Birgit has worked in Berlin and Brandenburg in the field of international business expansion in the media and games industry for 20 years. Institutions she worked for include Germany Trade & Invest, Brandenburg Economic development Board and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
Could you tell us something about Berlin Partner for Business and Technology (Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie) and your role in the organisation?
Berlin Partner is the economic development agency of the city of Berlin. We offer business and technology support for companies, investors and scientific institutions in Berlin, for companies who want to settle down in Berlin and also for existing Berlin companies. I am working together with a great team of colleagues, all responsible for different industries and clusters. My task is to attract media and games companies and accompany them with their plans to set up a business in Germany’s capital. Luckily, the games industry had a strong interest in Berlin and so I have been quite busy in recent years.
If a company is interested in settling down in Berlin, how could they get in touch and which kind of companies should reach out to you?
In non-Covid-times you can find me easily at all major games events such as GDC, Nordic Game, Gamescom, at gamesweekberlin or one of the networking events of games:net in Berlin. You can also call me +49157739980241, email me or add me on LinkedIn.
We assist all kinds of companies mainly with a strong focus on innovation, technology and creativity… these are all characteristics that easily apply to the games industry.
You have worked together with different companies over the last years, could you give us some examples on how you have worked together?
Of course. It is quite a large range of companies, who I work with from big international groups to small independent developers, publishers and service companies. Just to mention a few of them: Ubisoft, who has built a AAA studio in Berlin; Kolibri Games, who came as the vibrant startup Fluffy Fairy Games from Karlsruhe and have scaled up their business in Berlin quite a bit; King, who has built a development studio; Gamevil Come2us from Seoul, who is offering localization, marketing, community management etc., and Voodoo Games from Paris, who has set up a studio for hyper-casual games.
We can mainly support with three topics such as finding the right office location, giving advice on the main subsidy programmes provided by Berlin’s Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises and support with HR related topics such as the visa procedure. Apart from that I am happy to provide contacts to institutions and networks and of course a lot of information about the games industry here.
What is in your opinion special about the capital region and what makes it attractive for companies to establish an office in Berlin?
In recent years there was quite a run of international companies being interested in setting up a European Headquarter or office in Berlin.
Most of these companies liked the mix Berlin has to offer. Berlin is especially interesting for international talent because it is a European metropolis, hip and trendy, has to offer a huge creative industry community, lots of culture and a high living standard while still having low cost of living in comparison to other international games hubs. The international companies work with about 60-70 % international employees and know they can attract talent to Berlin. Apart from that there is already quite a large and international games community here which networks a lot at many events. From all German cities, Berlin has also the reputation of being the most international.
All these characteristics make Berlin an attractive location for the German and international games industry.
In terms of Brexit – do you think that many companies from the UK will relocate to Berlin?
So far, Brexit has not yet led to a significant relocation run by British games companies to Berlin, although we are speaking to a few. But since Brexit has just started to show first consequences for British companies, I still assume that there will be a rising interest among British gaming and media companies in having a main or second office somewhere in Europe, because it will be a lot easier and less paperwork to recruit international personnel and to do business in central Europe. And as you can see from the other answers above, Berlin has a lot to offer to attract those companies.
How is the Covid19-pandemic affecting your business and the plans for companies to settle down in the capital region?
Well, that is a situation everyone is facing right now and I guess that nobody is happy about it. Luckily, we have all sorts of digital tools that help us staying connected and let us network to a specific level. But we all know that it is not the same as getting in touch with each other directly, meeting old friends and new partners at an event or conventions. And Berlin is a city, that you have to discover to see all it has to offer. From its vibrant pulse to the cozy evenings in a Café, the creative and international people that are forming and make Berlin so unique. So yes, Covid affects all of us, and I am looking forward to a time where people can travel again and visit us in Berlin. The interest from companies to come to Berlin and settle down here is still on a high level and I would love to introduce them to our great games and media ecosystem with all its facets.