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Japanese business continues to focus on Düsseldorf and North Rhine-Westphalia

New Year's reception for the Japanese business community at the invitation of the state capital Düsseldorf and the state-owned economic development agency NRW.INVEST


At the traditional New Year's reception for the Japanese business community, the state capital Düsseldorf and the state-owned economic development agency NRW.INVEST welcomed some 250 guests to Düsseldorf's Rheinterrasse on Tuesday, 7 January. Mayor Thomas Geisel as well as Christoph Dammermann, State Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Japanese Consul General Masato Iso welcomed the representatives of Japanese business enterprises and other guests.

"Düsseldorf is a strong location for Japanese companies. The state capital is increasingly becoming an important center for innovation and product development for the European market," explained Mayor Thomas Geisel. "Japanese companies are increasingly setting up research and development units here and are becoming involved in our innovation networks, such as the Digihub or Startup Week. This benefits Japanese companies and the Düsseldorf location alike."

State Secretary Dammermann emphasized: "2019 was marked by a large number of meetings and events at which we were able to further deepen relations between Japan and North Rhine-Westphalia. We want to cooperate even more closely internationally in the coming years, particularly in future technologies such as artificial intelligence. Japan is a strong partner in this respect, enabling us to develop important joint projects and jointly advance technological innovations. We also look forward with great pleasure to the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo."

For Consul General Masato Iso, "2019 was a special year for our two countries". In the thirty-year era of 'Heisei', which ended on April 30, 2019, for the first time in Japan's modern history there was no Japan-related war. On May 1, 2019, the 'Reiwa' era began in Japan. "On the basis of common ideas and intensive cooperation, let us continue to do everything we can to make the Reiwa era a time of peace and stability that will bring people closer together in 'beautiful harmony'!"

The attractiveness of Düsseldorf and North Rhine-Westphalia as locations for Japanese companies remains undiminished: In 2019 there were a total of 44 investment projects in NRW. The state capital of Düsseldorf registered 39 new Japanese companies. There are now 630 companies from Japan established in North Rhine-Westphalia. The state capital is the strongest Japanese location in continental Europe. The main business areas are trading, sales and services. The good cooperation is also reflected in the population figures: More than 8,400 Japanese live in Düsseldorf, with around 14,800 in the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Highlights of the year 2019
One of the highlights of 2019 was the trip to Japan by State Secretary Dammermann and Mayor Geisel with a delegation at the beginning of September 2019, when the state capital Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf and NRW.INVEST jointly organized the traditional Düsseldorf Evening in Tokyo. Around 1,300 guests, including numerous representatives of Japanese companies, attended the event – a record number. In addition to visiting important investors, the aim of the trip was to create new stimuli and to promote Düsseldorf and North Rhine-Westphalia to Japanese companies as a location for innovation and product development for the European market.

The decision by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organisation) to make Düsseldorf its new "innovation hotspot" from the beginning of September 2019 also provided an important impetus. As part of this program, the Digihub, together with the Japan Desk of the Economic Development Agency, supports Japanese start-ups as they move into the European market. The interest of Japanese companies in digital start-ups has also grown considerably. For example, a 70-strong JETRO company delegation visited the Düsseldorf "Digital Demo Day", companies and research institutions in the Aachen region and the leading energy trade fair "E-world energy & water" in Essen. The delegation was thus able to gain a comprehensive impression of the lively start-up scene and innovative strength present in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Background: Municipal and state economic development
The municipal economic development agency and the state-owned economic development company NRW.INVEST support foreign and German companies in their investment projects and settlement in Düsseldorf and North Rhine-Westphalia throughout the entire settlement process and in all location-related issues. NRW.INVEST has the task at state level – as does the Economic Development Office at municipal level – of marketing North Rhine-Westphalia as an investment location internationally and attracting foreign direct investment to North Rhine-Westphalia.