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SMEs – the backbone of the German economy

The world knows Germany as an economic power that is home to big brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Bayer, Adidas and many others. But, the main players of the German economic might have been the thousands of small- and medium-size companies, or mittelstand, that produce little seen products under unheard of brands.

With Boreal Light Operational Manager Ali Al-Hakim and Executive Manager Dr. Hamed Beheshti

Started in 2014, Boreal Light is a renewable energy engineering company that provides solutions to countries with limited power grid infrastructure. The company has also developed its own water desalination system that works perfectly in rural and urban areas. Having already perfected its systems and technologies, the company is ready to take their expertise around the world via partnerships and investments.

Boreal Light is targeting East African markets, with Kenya as a priority. But, the company also sees many opportunities in Asia, particularly in India, Malaysia and the Philippines. Providing renewable energy and clean water to rural areas in the vast continent addresses the need for large companies to begin effective and profitable CSR programs. So, the company has received significant support from within the country and from overseas.

“We are surprised to hear from overseas companies operating in different industries. Compared to big companies, our one big advantage is being able to act and move faster and be more flexible in our systems and works,” Executive Manager Dr. Hamed Beheshti said.

With Albert Kreuz Managing Director Uwe Schmidt and Marketing Manager Bettina Moghim

Marking its 10th anniversary this, Albert Kreuz has enjoyed continuous growth because of its commitment to quality and personalized customer service. Company founder Uwe Schmidt saw a need for “invisible business underwear” for men. Those garments grew popular fast and the company soon found itself making the same garments for women.

Operating a business on an e-commerce model is very challenging given the amount of competition online. But Albert Kreuz gained its huge customer base through product customization and its customer service chat feature on its Web site.

Stamped with the ‘Made in Germany’ brand, Albert Kreuz has grown its business steadily in other European markets and the United States. It is now setting its sights on Asia, particularly Japan, which is well known for its affinity for well-made products.

“After 10 years, I still think we are a startup. But being a small company is an advantage. We do outsource a lot of the things so that we can focus on our core business and we can act fast in all directions,” Schmidt said.

With ICE Gateway CEO Ramin Lavae Mokhtar

Another Berlin-based successful startup is ICE Gateway, which develops products and provides solutions for “connected cities in a digital age.” Among its products are LED systems, sensors, and related cloud-based services for lighting applications. It also builds wireless infrastructure that can optimize outdoor lighting.

The company already operates in six markets: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Dubai and Switzerland. It is looking to Asia for further expansion and wants to partner with influential individuals or businesses in main cities.

“We believe [large companies and individuals] should invest in sustainable solutions; solutions that do not have just a single purpose but those that can have more potential in the future,” ICE Gateway CEO Ramin Lavae Mokhtari said. 

Kirstin Wenk, Deputy Head of International Business – European Services of Brandenburg Invest

Providing a support system for startups, Brandenburg Invest promotes the region as an attractive investment location. WFBB, known as Brandenburg Economic Development Corporation, works with the Berlin Partner for Business and Technology to formulate strategies to develop five industry clusters: energy technology, media ICT, mobility healthcare, economy and optical industry.

Brandenburg highlights its proximity to the capital Berlin and its position at the other end of the New Silk Road being built by China. With trade between Germany and China growing sharply and steadily year-on-year, WFBB continues to promote investment opportunities in China and organize business delegations and B2B meetings to attract more business in Brandenburg.

“Together with Berlin, we always welcome Asian companies to the German capital region. Through our activities, we create opportunities to meet with our companies and hopefully start a fruitful conversation from there,” said Kirstin Wenk, WFBB Deputy Head of International Business – European Services.

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A deeper look into Chinese acquisitions in Europe

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