Hamburg and Copenhagen are natural partners: The cities are only 288km apart, have a similar business-DNA and they are innovative leaders in various sectors. The potential for cooperation formed the background of the second Hamburg Copenhagen Business Forum titled “Two strong partners, one competitive region”. The objective of the Forum is to promote cross-border cooperation between businesses, organisations and political players from both cities to make the joint region between Hamburg and Copenhagen stand out in the European competition in the future. More than 250 participants came to Copenhagen to discuss similarities and differences in order to address the prospects of a joint region between the metropolitan areas of Hamburg and Copenhagen.
Fritz Horst Melsheimer, President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, and Jens-Peter Saul, Chairman of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce, both emphasised the importance of business cooperation in becoming one competitive region in their welcome speeches. The fixed Fehmarn belt link will pave the way for a closer cooperation and initiate common projects between the two metropolitan areas.
Collaboration on large-scale projects is also among the top priorities of Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor Frank Jensen and Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz, as both stated during the Mayors’ Talk. In the eyes of Jensen, reduced travel time gives great possibilities for the cooperation between both cities. Scholz stressed the strong support of the federal government and state governments of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein for the Fehmarn belt-link.
The opportunities for the joint region were further underlined by the two mayors' plan to intensify and formalise cooperation in the coming years by establishing a working group. Jensen highlighted the experience that can be drawn from the Oresund region around Copenhagen and Malmö. In the same vein, the mayors welcomed the Business Forum as an opportunity to learn from each other as role models. Scholz stressed Copenhagen’s leading role when it comes to Smart City projects, as the Scandinavian city sets new standards in areas such as urban bicycle concepts and district heating systems. Jensen, on the other hand, praised Hamburg’s business culture and its close cooperation with institutions, which, paired with a unique welcome culture and business-friendly politics, plays a prominent role in Hamburg’s success story.
The Mayors identified energy as one of the key topics for the region and stressed the two cities’ successful steps towards the energy transition (Energiewende). Scholz underlined Hamburg’s position as a wind energy hub, emphasising its potential in expanding the renewable energies grid. Copenhagen’s very efficient district heating system drives the city’s ambitious aims of becoming the first carbon neutral capital by 2025, highlighted Jensen. These and other approaches combined with best practice sharing will place Hamburg and Copenhagen among the global players within the renewable energy sector.
The following panel debate named people, businesses and organisations as important prerequisites for the development of the region. The four speakers concluded that fostering a joint region requires a cross-border mind-set and that therefore the educational level is very important. Hence, a successful region needs to be based on people’s positive attitude towards one another. The panellists see the potential of forming such a joint region based on private innovation, which requires training of the region’s young people in business and research. The potential for cooperation between the two cities has not yet been utilised, as willingness, rather than action has dominated the public debate and policies.
Whilst the morning part of the programme explored a broader framework for cooperation between the metropolitan areas of the two cities, the afternoon presented the possibility to discuss specific sector topics in breakout sessions. The focus was put on energy and smart cities, logistics & IT, real estate investments, health care and life sciences as well as tourism. In the different sessions, the participants could explore shared opportunities and had the chance of learning from each other, gain new insights and make new contacts to relevant stakeholders.
At the end of the day, Copenhagen Capacity and the City of Copenhagen invited the participants to a reception at Copenhagen’s City Hall. After a few concluding words by the host, Mayor Frank Jensen, the chairman of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce, Jens-Peter Saul, closed the conference and invited the participants to the next Hamburg Copenhagen Business Forum in Hamburg in 2017.