GeoSea, a subsidiary of the Belgian DEME group, is helping to construct of some of the largest offshore wind farms in the German North Sea, including the Hohe See, Merkur and Borkum Riffgrund 2 installations. Projects like these, which resulted from a partnership with Hochtief, are managed from GeoSea’s base in Bremen – for a good reason.
The Belgium-based DEME Group has worked on offshore projects since the 1990s, collaborating with the Hochtief construction company for many of those years. Together, the two companies set up a joint venture for the purposes of constructing and operating the jack-up vessel Innovation. In 2015, Hochtief sold its shares and all its offshore assets to the DEME Group, which then founded GeoSea Infra Solutions GmbH in Bremen in 2016 for the development of its offshore activities. This company is situated at Anne-Conway-Strasse 6 in Bremen’s technology park and has around 80 employees today.
This is just a brief summary of a fascinating chain of developments, which actually began back in Wilhelmshaven in 1968. At that time, DEME had obtained the contract for deepening the outer Jade estuary from the Waterways and Shipping Office. For this project, Ackermans & van Haaren, a company that would later go on to found the DEME Group, established Nordsee Nassbagger- und Tiefbau GmbH, which was initially based in Wilhelmshaven. “It was DEME’s first milestone in Germany,” remarks Christopher Iwens, General Manager for German Subsidiaries at DEME. The company acquired further contracts and opened a branch in Hamburg in 2003. “The gravel that we dredged from the North Sea was processed in Hamburg for use in the construction industry.”
In 2007, Nordsee Nassbagger- und Tiefbau GmbH relocated to Anne-Conway-Strasse 9 in Bremen, acquiring a central site within close reach of the Elbe, Weser, Jade and Ems rivers. Around the same time, the company’s partnership with the Hochtief group was flourishing. “Dredging and hydraulic engineering made for a good combination, and we complemented each other ideally,” explains Iwens. This partnership ultimately resulted in a joint venture: Hochtief had wanted to construct an offshore installation vessel with Beluga Shipping, but the shipping company had to file for insolvency, and so DEME’s offshore subsidiary GeoSea took over the shares instead. In 2010, Hochtief and GeoSea founded HGO Infrasea Solutions GmbH, a company based in Bremen that would be responsible for the construction and operation of a jack-up vessel named Innovation.
“It’s just like in Formula 1 – a ship is only as good as its crew. The Innovation is operated by a fantastic 20-strong team that work in two shifts.”
Christopher Iwens, General Manager for German Subsidiaries at DEME
The investment in the Innovation was a pivotal factor in DEME’s expansion of its offshore activities in Germany, as it needed to ensure that the Innovation was used as much as possible. The partnership with Hochtief continued to develop as well – for example, Hochtief, GeoSea and Nordsee Nassbagger- und Tiefbau GmbH established a joint venture for the construction of the Baltic 2 offshore wind farm near Rügen island. Hochtief was acquired by the Spanish construction group ACS in 2011, and ultimately sold its entire offshore division with all its installation vessels and pontoons to GeoSea in 2015. “The stake we had in the company that operated the Innovation was closest to our hearts,” says Iwens. “We didn’t want an unfamiliar partner with whom we didn’t have this shared history.”
The Innovation was subsequently incorporated into the DEME fleet and has flown under a German flag ever since, manned by a German crew. Amid the expanding portfolio of offshore activities, GeoSea Infra Solutions GmbH was founded in January 2016. There were several reasons behind the choice of Bremen as a location for the company’s headquarters – for one thing, Nordsee Nassbagger- und Tiefbau GmbH was already located there. Another decisive factor was the central location in relation to the Ems, Jade, Weser and Elbe rivers, as well as the city’s proximity to the coast. One more positive influence came in the form of an invitation from Bremeninvest and the Senator for Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports, who encouraged DEME’s board of directors to visit and see for themselves how appealing Bremen and Bremerhaven were as a location for maritime industry.
GeoSea is actively involved in construction projects such as the offshore wind farms Hohe See and Borkum Riffgrund 2. However, the company also focuses on the area of project development: DEME has a stake in the project development company Merkur Offshore GmbH, while GeoSea has been working on the turnkey construction of the offshore wind farm since August 2016. “Prefabrication is currently taking place and the foundations are under construction,” Iwens explains. “As a single-source provider, we also carry out all kinds of services in the area – from the search for weapons on the ocean floor to scour protection that prevents the current from washing away the sand around the foundations.” Merkur, which is located around 45 kilometres north of Borkum island, is scheduled for completion at the beginning of 2019.
GeoSea’s order book is full until the end of 2019. The Federal Network Agency is currently inviting tenders for the construction of additional wind farms, although this work is not scheduled to begin until 2021. “It’s important that we establish another pillar alongside project development and the construction of wind farms,” says Iwens. For this reason, GeoSea intends to focus on the maintenance and repair of offshore wind farms in the North Sea in future. “Every facility is like a power plant on the water, and there’s a lot of attrition through wind, weather and salt water. Maintenance work can also be carried out with ships smaller than the Innovation, which means the entire fleet could be more fully utilised.”
Whether dealing with large-scale projects or maintenance work, Iwens and the entire DEME group prefer to seek out partnerships. “We’re happy to work with partners, since not everyone can do everything and have everything. We have our ships, for example, while other businesses provide the manpower,” explains Iwens. It’s important for him that the partnerships are not only compatible on a business level, but also on a human level.
“Business is between people. In order to be mutually successful, partners have to develop a high level of confidence in their working relationship.”
Christopher Iwens, General Manager for German Subsidiaries at DEME
On the subject of working relationships, roughly 20 employees at the Bremen site currently work for Nordsee Nassbagger- und Tiefbau GmbH and around 80 for GeoSea. Some of them come from Belgium. “When we began last year, things took off immediately, so we had to get some DEME employees over from Belgium to work in Bremen. But now we are gradually employing more workers from Germany, meaning the Belgians can go back. It’s an ongoing process,” explains Iwens. “Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find skilled workers. The offshore sector is very demanding.”
For more information about GeoSea, view www.deme-group.com/geosea
Companies wishing to access the European market should be careful about their choice of location. Brexit could result in significantly higher financial and tax burdens for UK-based companies. Under these circumstances, setting up a base on the continent might be a better option. Find out what challenges companies will be facing.
Keen to remain in Bremen? Then why not combine residency status with self-employment? Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service knows all about how a start-up could allow British citizens to beat Brexit and kill two birds with one stone.
Photography studios, workshops and professional kitchens are rarely fully occupied round the clock. So why not let others share them? The german start-up Craftspace brings together providers of production spaces with entrepreneurs, small business owners and artists on a single online platform. It’s an arrangement that benefits everyone.
It’s an adventure playground for kids, an idyllic sanctuary for couples, and a quiet retreat for those looking to escape from stress – from joggers and Nordic walkers to lovers of nature and culture, the Bürgerpark in the centre of Bremen has something for everyone. For the last 150 years, this protected heritage site in the centre of Bremen has relied solely on the support of donations to keep it open and well-maintained.
A great deal of manual labour goes into aircraft construction. Despite this – or perhaps even because of it – Airbus is changing its approach to make increased use of digital technologies. It’s also researching the applications of new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. And not a moment too soon, as Airbus’ site manager in Bremen, Dr André Walter, explains in our interview.
Art, design and people with disabilities make up the fascinating focus of the work of two young designers from Bremen. Working together with employees from community-based workshops, they develop and improve on designs for handmade products – and are continually thrilled by the potential they see in their co-designers.
Environmentally friendly manufacturing and ethical standards are the principles on which the fair trade clothing sector is based. Leela Cotton, a successful German-Turkish textile company, produces clothes for children and adults that are not only stylish, but also make a positive contribution to the environment in the way they are manufactured.
Why have so many IT companies chosen to establish themselves in Bremen? We asked five key business figures and researchers from various organisations to tell us what makes the city such an attractive location for the IT sector.
3D imaging with millimetre accuracy for underwater industrial activities and deep sea exploration – company founder Jakob Schwendner has a very clear goal. The first prototype of a camera with brand new sensor technology was built in Canada and presented to industry professionals at the Ocean Business conference in Southampton, United Kingdom, in April.
The Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is a successful business park that is currently undergoing expansion. Several major logistics companies have based themselves here, developing increasingly sophisticated processes that aim to optimise just-in-sequence production for the automotive industry.
Of all the states in Germany, Bremen has the highest density of major research institutions in relation to its population – a fact that also benefits those who study there. It offers a range of international education opportunities for prospective academics with strong practical relevance and research activities that span a diverse range of fields.
Weatherproof displays for transport services, and screens that don’t produce glare in bright sunlight – these are just some of the devices provided by AlfaNet Computer und Electronic Handels GmbH, a Bremen-based company founded nearly 25 years ago by Thomas Lie.
They came, they saw, they marvelled – Chinese business people in Bremen visited the Mercedes-Benz plant and were surprised to find that an automotive manufacturer with a vast robot workforce was also Bremen’s largest employer, with just under 13,000 (human) employees. But where do they all work?
Three continents, four countries, and Bremen at the centre of it all – a start-up could hardly be more international. The young entrepreneurs Ahmed Cheema and Stefan Kuzmanovski want to make sustainable manufacturing and the use of ethically sourced materials standard practice.
Bremen: Down-to-earth, yet always ready to surprise you. An attractive place to live, a city through which we can move easily and without stress – on foot along the river Weser, on two wheels through the many parks, or by tram through the city centre. People from different cities and countries tell us why they fell in love with Bremen and have made their lives here.
Lighter, more bespoke and more intricate: for companies open to new ideas in manufacturing and construction, metal parts produced by 3D printers present an economic alternative to conventional die cutting, rolling and milling. Leading the way is Materialise, a company with its own metal printing plant in Bremen.
Bremen has been twinned with the city of Dalian in north-eastern China since 1985. Find out more about the similarities and connections that the two port cities share.
Up to now, cricket has been very much a niche sport in Germany. But that is changing. In Bremen, a woman is calling the shots in this male-dominated sport – with great success. Her men’s team are the 2016 German cricket champions.
Wearables and smart glasses provide hands-free digital information. A visit at the headquarter of the global market leader for Industrial Wearable Computing, Ubimax in Bremen.
In 2016, companies invested a combined total of €229 million in the federal state of Bremen. Where do these investors hail from, how many jobs have they created, and what is their line of business? Our infographics provide an overview.
How will the UK’s impending exit from the EU affect the logistics sector? Günther Hörbst, Managing Director of the Via Bremen Foundation, on the economic links between the United Kingdom and the EU
The Chinese designer Haoyu Li combines his German design degree with Chinese business acumen. Now he is opening a design office in Bremen, with the aim of making it easier for Chinese products to enter the German market, and to bring German brands to China.
The colours of the local football team are not the only thing that's green about Bremen, as you'll see when you take a stroll around its parks and open spaces. A look at the statistics shows that Bremen is not only Germany's tenth-largest city, it is also its third-greenest, offering plenty of space to enjoy nature.
The high standard of logistical expertise in the state of Bremen functioned as a key to open doors, making this a successful year for Bremen. 2016’s successes were marked by automobiles and steel, welcoming ambitious international companies.
From initial idea to successful move. Andreas Gerber, who heads up the international relocation team at Bremeninvest, knows what international companies need to do to set up a business in Bremen. Here he tells us about the most important steps on the ...
Hard facts take top priority when it comes to the choice of location for international or domestic businesses. But the faster we feel comfortable outside the workplace in the everyday routines and culture of a foreign country, the sooner we feel at home. In addition to trade, science – and of course its port, Bremen has plenty to offer when it comes to quality of life.
BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.
Going it alone is rarely an easy option. Co-working enables entrepreneurs to work in a shared space and experience the benefits and synergies that come with this. There are nine co-working spaces in Bremen – which one is right for you?
Permits and authorisations, a mountain of applications and a language barrier too. These are just some of the difficulties you face when starting a business abroad. Luckily, an advice centre opened in Bremen in early 2015 that can help you through the jungle: Bremeninvest’s welcome service.
Geographical distance and cultural differences make it hard to relocate or start up a company in another country. Luckily, help is at hand from the team at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Bremen. They'll do all they can to make your international business a success.
In December 2016 ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) member states met to determine the roadmap for the European space sector for the years ahead. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Bremen submitted joint recommendations. In the following interview Dr Peter Vits, Bremen's State Coordinator for the Space Sector, talks about Bremen's strengths and opportunities.
The sky is not the limit, at least not in Bremen. All parts of the aerospace sector are represented in the city, from R&D to production. Aeroplane wings, Ariane rockets and Galileo satellites – Bremen is one of the leading locations in the international aerospace industry. Here are five factors behind Bremen’s story of success.
In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.
The Bremen region has long been a pioneer in electric mobility and is now set to enjoy further success after Mercedes-Benz and Borgward announced that they will be making electric vehicles in the city.
Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.
Sometimes you have to learn from other people's mistakes and trust your instincts. That is what Muhammad-Farhan Aslam believed when he took over his father's business. Not only did he change the business model, but he also shelved his own plans to move to England. Instead he stayed in Bremen. And it turned out to be one of many good decisions that he made.
For 30 years, the Cargo Distribution Centre in Bremen has delivered excellence – as an investment location and a logistics hub. Today more than 150 companies employing approximately 8,000 people are based at the site. It offers direct links to the ports, the autobahn and has a close proximity to Bremen City Airport.
Language barriers, unfamiliar legal and fiscal systems, qualifications that need to be recognised. There are many additional hurdles that entrepreneurs have to overcome when setting up a new branch or a new company in a different country. Bremeninvest is committed to offering you advice and support from the outset.
You might expect a Bremen-based company specialising in innovative instruments and implants for spinal surgery to be located at the Technology Park. But you'd be wrong. NuVasive Germany GmbH has its head office at the heart of the city centre next to Wallanlagen Park. Now employing a team of 44 people, the company generates annual revenue of more than €10 million – a figure that looks set to rise.
David Zhou came to Bremen three years ago with the aim of conquering the market – and a new continent – with LEDs. He started his business selling LED lighting and electronics at the World Trade Centre at Bremen Airport and has gradually built it up over the past few years.