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Start your business in Hamburg

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world, and has an excellent infrastructure to promote innovative projects. With Europe's third largest seaport, an active airport and a prime location at the crossroads between Scandinavia and Central Europe, Hamburg remains an innovation hub for making business.

Hafencity and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
© Mediaserver Hamburg / Timo Sommer

Successful business made in Hamburg

Hamburg is a major international trade, transport and services hub and one of the most important locations for industry in Germany. Global players such as Airbus, Beiersdorf (Nivea), HapagLloyd, Montblanc, Otto and Tchibo are located here.

Tradition meets innovation

Hamburg is an attractive location for growing startups: comprising 96,000 businesses, the services sector is Hamburg’s strongest industry. With a share of approx. 34%, the information and communication segment, including leading advertising and online marketing companies such as Facebook, Facelift, Google, Smaato and Twitter, is particularly important.

© Mediaserver Hamburg / Christian Brandes

City of networks and opportunities

In recent years, the city has cultivated a supportive and inclusive business environment. Startups and scaleups come together in Hamburg and take advantage of the city's rich resources and well-established networks: Various consulting providers, research institutions and cluster initiatives support young companies in building a strong network right from the beginning. Startups can also benefit from a wide range of funding programmes and financing offers.

Apply now: Future Hamburg Award 2023!

The internationally and nationally oriented Future Hamburg Award honours forward-looking startups that contribute to making cities more liveable while enriching the economy and society in metropolitan regions. This year's focus is on mobility, green tech and logistics. The winning teams will receive a one-month accelerator programme at Plug and Play's headquarters in Silicon Valley, as well as individual mentoring, pitch training and a corporate readiness workshop.

Who can apply: All startups that are between two and four years old and have developed a solution for the city of the future in the field of mobility, logistics or GreenTech.

Application period: April 17 - July 9, 2023

The Scaleup Landing Pad is designed to assist young businesses as they expand into Germany and Europe from Hamburg. This programme offers a handpicked selection of incentives and services which can be individually customized to suit your business expansion goals. Best of all, these services are offered free of charge to every participating scaleup!

  • Tulika Raj

    CEO SunGreenH2

    “Hamburg's special location, the logistics, all this fits together very well. We can imagine coming for the long term and building something up in Hamburg.”
    Learn more
    Tulika Raj, CEO of SunGreenH2 at Plug&Play 2022
    © Hamburg Invest: Tulika Raj at Plug&Play 2022
  • Antoine Welter

    CEO & Co-Founder of Circu Li-ion

    “If you are a scaleup in the fields of maritime, energy and logistics, the Scaleup Landing Pad Hamburg is the way to start in Germany. Their matchmaking has been essential in building the local connections to become competitive in the German market.”
    Learn more
    Antoine Welter, CEO & CO-Founder of Circu Li-ion
    © Circu Li-ion
  • Andrew Woo Schill

    Vp of GTM Strategy at MicroSec

    “With the Scaleup Landing Pad we experienced a programme which is serious about how to scale startups to their next level. For us, it has been instrumental in providing us the right soft landing in a new market overseas to establish our base in Hamburg.”
    Learn more
    Andrew Woo Schill, VP of GTM Strategy at MircoSec
    © MircoSec
  • Belén Moreno

    Account Executive of HySiLabs

    “The Scaleup Landing Pad helped us a lot to see the necessary steps and how to walk them successfully on the staircase of entering the Hamburg ecosystem and the German market.”
    Learn more
    Belén Moreno from HySiLabs
    © HySiLabs

Working and living in Germany

  • Being a city state, Hamburg’s real estate market is very dense, and especially short-term rentals can be difficult to find. You are therefore advised to start looking for accommodation as early as possible.

    Relatively cheap and yet with good public transport connection: the districts of Harburg, Barmbek, Lokstedt, Wilhelmsburg… More “hip” and expensive are the Schanzenviertel (“Schanze”) district, Altona, Ottensen…

    Find out more about Hamburg’s districts and on how to find a home during your stay.

  • As one of Germany’s main startup hubs, Hamburg offers a broad range of coworking spaces and hubs. The Startup City Hamburg´s coworking map provides an interactive overview of all coworking and office spaces, hubs and fab labs available in Hamburg, alongside information on innovation parks and real estate in Hamburg.

Good to know before you settle to Hamburg

  • If you’re planning on coming to Hamburg to live and work, you should be aware of any applicable visa and entry requirements. Please note that different rules may apply, depending e.g. on whether you are a citizen of a country within the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, or a citizen of any other world region.

    To learn more about the entry process, check out the links below, with information provided by the Hamburg Welcome Center, or visit the Hamburg Welcome Portal:


    ·         General information on the visa process for citizens of other states

    ·         Requirements for citizens of other states wishing to set up a self-employed business

    Note: It is recommended that you start the application process for an entry visa, residence permit or work permit at an early stage as it may take several months to complete. Typically, a visa has to be applied for in person at the German diplomatic mission in or closest to your home country. If you’re a citizen of an EU or EEA country, you have the right to live, work and study in Germany without any visa or permits.

  • First of all you should look up general information for employers regarding different employment conditions and aspects to be considered.

    If you and your Startup are settled in Hamburg, you can post your current vacancies on the Startup City Hamburg job portal and find smart people for your growing teams.

Building and growing your startup in Germany

  • In Hamburg you say “Moin” – which basically means “Hello”. You can use it at any time of the day or night. In the rest of Germany, Hamburg’s residents are considered to be a rather cool-headed and reserved bunch – but really, we’re not that bad once you’ve gotten to know us.

    Hamburg’s business culture is still heavily influenced by the city’s Hanseatic legacy, and the city’s locals have always valued the toil of manual workers such as port workers and market vendors.

    Hamburg is not only home to global players such as Airbus, Facebook, Google and Nivea, but also provides excellent opportunities for the perfect after-work experience – e.g. in the legendary St Pauli neighbourhood. Even the Beatles kicked off their music career in Hamburg.

  • Hamburg offers a wealth of beneficial resources and funding opportunities for entrepreneurs. As a founder in Hamburg, you can benefit from various support services provided by universities, startup centers, the Chamber of Commerce, innovation consultancies, and other public and private entities. Most of these resources offer free guidance and networking opportunities within the city's startup and innovation ecosystem.

    Startup City Hamburg has gathered essential details for you on how to establish a business and informs you about the financing options accessible for new businesses in Hamburg.

    You can find these information under Funding & Startup Support.

Startup Unit hamburg Teammembers Rica and Vero

Contact our Startup Unit for a consultation

Advisory Session for startups:

Book a free startup consultation (by phone or video call on request, 40 minutes) with the Hamburg Invest Startup Unit.