OHB, an aerospace company from Bremen, has been a partner of the Northern Germany Innovation Office (NGIO), a joint project run by the German Federal States of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Bremen and other private partners, since 2020.
The initiative has an office in San Francisco, USA, whose aim it is to cultivate the transfer of technology and cooperative ventures between Northern Germany and Silicon Valley. After a year, the satellite builder is able to report a positive result, and plans to continue its cooperative relationship with the NGIO. We asked Egbert van der Veen, Strategic Director and Venture Capital Managing Director at OHB, three questions about previous successes and future plans.
Which sectors or companies at OHB have already been able to benefit from the partnership with the NGIO?
Egbert van der Veen: Our partnership with NGIO helps the OHB as a group, see the bigger picture. Very often, we come into contact with start-ups or small companies that are active in areas in which aeronautics is not the core business. This forces us to look into other areas than the ones we are usually involved with. OHB DIGITAL is our newest division, and the one in which we have to invest the most time and energy, to provide the best possible help for the start-ups and businesses recommended to us by the NGIO. This involves services in a range of different sectors: from geo-localisation-based services in the logistics market to maritime applications or digitisation solutions. The NGIO has already created analyses of the companies that are active in OHB's primary area of activity and even established contact with some of them already.
In the meantime, OHB has announced that it would like to extend its partnership with the NGIO. What positive outcomes does the company expect to see from this alignment?
Egbert van der Veen: We expect that we will be able to further extend our cooperative relationship with the NGIO in the coming years. As international travel should become easier again soon, this will also make it easier to invest in innovative companies in the USA and work together with them.
What could, or should, this level of technical and scientific cooperation between the USA and Europe and Germany in particular inspire in the near future?
Egbert van der Veen: In continuing our partnership with the NGIO, we aim to find start-ups or small companies that are able to export our products and services to the USA and support American partner companies on the European market, and to do this at an earlier, rather than a later, stage. This is basically a win-win situation from which both sides derive the most benefit if they are supported by the NGIO.
It is often the case that European companies find it hard to do business in the USA if they don't have an American subsidiary. Setting up a company in the USA not only involves a great deal of time and effort, but in itself, it's also no guarantee of success. This is why this type of cooperative agreement is a sort of intermediate step which helps companies test out their business concept and market options.
Similarly, the US market offers great opportunities because it has more investment options available for start-ups. However, a US start-up or smaller company might not have the necessary marketing capacity or economic strength to market its products or services in Europe. For this reason, using the NGIO as a means to contact and stay in touch with companies in Europe is also very useful to them.
Thank you Mr. van der Veen!
The NGIO provides interested companies with information about the working practices of US-based companies and research institutes in their specific field of activity, enabling them to set up useful business contacts. The NGIO also actively promotes Northern German Federal States in the San Francisco area and provides advice to American companies that are interested in Northern Germany as a location. The NGIO has been run by the Federal States of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Bremen and private partners since 2018. In Bremen, it is supported by Bremeninvest.
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