Munich: where innovation meets heritage
Munich’s progressive metropolitan mindset, reputation for ground-breaking research and commitment to heritage mean tech giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft have been beating a path to its door in recent years. Here, they compete for space and talent with resident German heavyweights, such as BMW and Siemens.
Since the 1970s, Munich has become an increasingly attractive prospect for investors. With a handful of successful strategic investments into both hi-tech industrial and educational facilities started to snowball, the third largest city in Germany has transitioned from beneficiary to benefactor.
Munich is now becoming ever more diverse and open-minded, further fuelling its allure for interested parties looking to relocate, expand or start up in the city and surrounds.
The city also boasts top research organisations and two of Germany’s leading universities: Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This gives companies access to both unparalleled research and development facilities and some of the brightest minds on the planet.
Challenges in hand
With forests, lakes and mountains within striking distance of the city centre and a rich downtown architectural heritage, Munich also scores highly on the aesthetic and quality of life front.
Where many cities have sacrificed heritage for short-term gain, strict regulations capping the height and style of any proposed new buildings within Munich’s inner ring have served to preserve its beauty and enhanced its attractiveness to high profile global corporates contemplating where to set up shop.
While it is true that these exacting standards have meant competitively-priced commercial and industrial space can be hard to come by, so alluring is Munich for big business, companies are prepared to spend to have a presence here. While this influx of new high-earning talent has exerted high pressure on housing and transport infrastructure, city authorities have been quick to step in with the necessary interventions. This means certain districts are now subject to protected rents as part of efforts to restore affordability.
Also, substantial funds have been invested into public transport to alleviate city centre congestion. The flagship project is the construction of the “Second Stammstrecke”, a €3.85 billion double-track commuter rail initiative linking the east and west of the city, which is due for completion towards the end of the decade.
Success begets success
Increasing numbers of high-tech companies have also been attracted to the city. Apple, for example, is set to significantly expand its Munich operations in 2021. Microsoft also has its German headquarters in the city and Amazon opened a new three-storey corporate office in Maxvorstadt in 2019, hosting employees for its web services department. Meanwhile, Google is strengthening its presence in the city and is developing its Munich arm into an international data protection hub. And, where these tech giants go, others will follow.
Combined with its strength in depth across more traditional areas such as automotive and financial services, Munich can boast a balanced distribution of sectors, making it much more resilient when crises such as COVID-19 hit.
But it will take more than a pandemic to dent Munich’s fortunes. The city continues to hypnotise investors with its irresistibly sweet smell of success. It charms them by embracing its heritage, yet shows this need not be at the expense of blue-sky thinking.