Travelog of German Innovation and
Growth Driver Cities

Written by Yoon Seok-jin (Researcher at Regional
Economy Research Division, the Incheon Institute)

Heidelberg Technology Park, the Cradle of the Ecosystem for Bio Startups


Heidelberg Technology Park is a campus-type innovation cluster that was established in 1984 with focus on the research centers of chemical corporations. As one of the oldest technology complexes in the world, the technology park was built for excellent human resources and enterprises to conduct successful businesses in Heidelberg. At present, more than 100 bio, pharmaceutical, medical device, and chemical startups and SMEs are creating more than 4,000 jobs. In addition, seven global pharmaceutical companies are located in the technology park.
From the outside, Heidelberg Technology Park does not look much different from the corporate campuses in Korea. It has another similarity in that the capacity for innovation of neighboring universities and the industrial capacity of global companies are utilized to facilitate the industrial ecosystem. Rather than environmental conditions, the fact that the key three elements of talented human resources, capital, and network are success drivers of Heidelberg Technology Park.


First, Heidelberg Technology Park provides opportunities for local college graduates to remain in Heidelberg and start an enterprise. In particular, more than 100 mentors that Heidelberg Technology Park owns are invaluable assets that help local talent learn how to run a successful startup.


Second, Heidelberg Technology Park attracts investors for startups in Heidelberg not only from Europe but also from the U.S. and China. Heidelberg Technology Park employees participate in industry conferences all over the world to discover and network with investors, while continuously providing the global investors with information on startups in Heidelberg.


Lastly, Heidelberg Technology Park makes tremendous efforts for building a network among business founders, researchers, companies, and investors. Markus Buehler, who is responsible for startup support at Heidelberg Technology Park, said, “Building a network is not an easy task; however, it is so important to establish a system for communication.”

Bahnstadt Residential Complex, a Representation of
Urban Development with Environmental Sustainability


The Bahnstadt Residential Complex in Heidelberg is the world’s largest ‘passive house’ complex in an area of 116 hectares. It is known as an “energy independent smart city,” with 2,500 passive residencies run 100% by new and renewable energy, as well as business facilities, hospitals, research centers, and commercial facilities.


The city of Heidelberg, encouraged by the success of Bahnstadt, plans to convert the city into a 100% new and renewable energy city by 2050. The construction expenses for Bahnstadt Residential Complex were high owing to the passive house construction method. Due to this, the residential cost is higher than other buildings by approximately 20%. However, the actual residential cost is almost the same as other buildings, as no energy cost is charged.
The development process of Bahnstadt Residential Complex was dramatically different from the urban development projects of Korea. Most remarkable was that the urban development was implemented as part of a long-term master plan of Heidelberg to become an energy-independent city. In addition, in the process of urban development, citizens, experts, developers, and local governments continuously participated to make decisions for the details of the development. In other words, Bahnstadt showcases that urban development can also champion the value of environmental sustainability while also being a profitable business development.


Bernd Franke, the senior researcher at Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, pointed out two critical elements for the success of such value-oriented urban development as Bahnstadt Residential Complex: the government’s subsidy policies that can induce eco-friendly urban development and a long-term application of environmental sustainability from the point of setting up an urban development plan rather than applying construction remodelling to existing buildings.

Gateway Gardens at Frankfurt Airport, an Exemplary Case
of the Business District in the Airport Economic Zone


Gateway Gardens is a 700,000㎡ business district located within walking distance from Frankfurt Airport. Besides being located near an airport, Gateway Gardens is at the node of a transportation network that is connected to railroads and highways, guaranteeing high accessibility and connectivity. Making the best use of these advantages, Gateway Gardens pursues to become a “Global Business Village.”
Although some parts are still under construction or on sale, there are already many residing companies in Gateway Gardens. In terms of large-scale industrial facilities, there are Sky Chefs, a company specialized in in-flight catering, Condor, an airline company, and Hoya, a multinational company. In addition, as hotels with convention facilities are located in the area, the business efficiency is enhanced in terms of connectivity to the airport. The House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM), an anchor-type public facility, implements the function of research and development for smart logistics and mobility related to airport.
Going beyond the simple functions of an airport, passenger service, and logistics terminal, Gateway Gardens showcases the potential for development of an airport city where various industries form a cluster. Frankfurt airport has made marvelous achievements by developing Gateway Gardens and attracting various global companies, maximizing its merit as a hub airport in Europe.

Innovative Growth, Lessons from German Cities


Heidelberg Technology Park, Bahnstadt Residential Complex, and Gateway Gardens of Frankfurt airport have presented a lesson for the future growth of the IFEZ. The Bio Convergence Technology Laboratory, which is planned to be established in Zone 11 of Songdo International City, will serve as an opportunity to develop an industrial ecosystem where the SMEs and startups harmoniously grow together, escaping from the conventional framework focused on the growth led by large-scale enterprises.
To this end, efforts to induce startup talents and venture investment capitals are needed, as seen in the case of Heidelberg Technology Park. In addition, the case of Bahnstadt teaches us that the next generation should consider values when implementing the urban development project for the IFEZ. The Gateway Gardens at Frankfurt airport can be utilized as a practical model for the development of Airport Economic Zone with focus on Incheon International Airport, which has been a topic of discussion as of late.