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China and NRW to cooperate on digital transformation

Cologne, 2 September, 2016 - The state-owned economic development agency NRW.INVEST and the city of Cologne, one of the most important Chinese centers in Germany, is hosting the Business and Investors Forum China in Cologne for the second time. "There are many good reasons for it taking place in Cologne again," Mayor Henriette Reker explained: "Our city possesses almost unique expertise on China with extremely well-networked actors, about 200 Chinese companies and an outstanding economic development service for investors from the People's Republic." More than 500 visitors from Germany and abroad are expected. The Business and Investors Forum China has become one of the most important Sino-German economic dialog platforms in Germany. This year the event will focus strongly on the digitization of the economy.

In lectures and panel sessions, Chinese and German experts will discuss the potential of cooperation in various aspects of digitization, from logistics and the telecommunications sector to start-ups and SMEs. These include Frank Sportolari, President of UPS Germany, Torsten Küppers, Vice President Huawei Germany, Dorry Chen, Supervisor of the European Center of NetEase, Ren Lü, Vice-President of Winsun, and Puja Abassi, Head of Communications at Giant Swarm. Almost all participants agree that excellent opportunities for cooperation exist here for both states. Garrelt Duin, North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Economic Affairs, emphasizes: "We will continue to intensify the partnership between North Rhine-Westphalia and China and work towards common norms and standards. Particularly in the digital economy and in the field of Industry 4.0, there are large overlaps and great potential for cooperation."

Today, there are more than 900 Chinese companies located in North Rhine-Westphalia. "The interest of Chinese companies in NRW is unbroken", emphasizes Petra Wassner, CEO of NRW.INVEST. "In 2016 alone, 62 new companies from China came to our state. We are expecting to see increasing interest in the areas of Industry 4.0 and the digital economy in the coming years. This ranges from traditional settlement through M&A to venture capital from China."

As part of the state initiative "Digital Economy NRW", the state is promoting the digital competitiveness of traditional industry and small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, NRW is investing 12.5 million euros in the development of digital hubs in Aachen, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Münster and the Ruhr region. Cologne in particular is becoming one of Germany's leading digital locations. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Rhine metropolis is even regarded as the "digital capital of Germany". There are more than 200 start-ups and 15 business incubators located in the Cologne region. Seed capital, numerous events and networks of the digital economy contribute to the attractiveness of the location. The new Digital Hub Cologne will serve as a central bridge between SMEs and innovative start-ups. Digital business models can systematically find their addressees in the corporate sector. This plays an important role in the future viability of the entire Cologne economic area. In this way, synergy effects arise from which science and industry benefit in equal measure.

Ute Berg, Head of the Department for the Economy and Real Estate of the City of Cologne, is convinced: "With the Digital Hub, which we are launching on 1 October together with the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the University of Cologne, we will further strengthen the startup scene in Cologne. More than 100 partners from business, industry, science and research are participating actively in the innovation and digitization center. We are also involving international partners. I expect to see important stimuli for the already good economic relations with the People's Republic of China, in particular with our partner city Peking."

Minister-President Hannelore Kraft and Shi Mingde, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in the Federal Republic of Germany, have assumed the patronage for this year's Business and Investors Forum China

The premium partner for the event is UPS Deutschland.