Leipzig and Birmingham Offer Gateways for Post-Brexit Expansion
There is no doubt that trade and investment between Europe’s two largest economies - Germany and the UK - has suffered as a result of Brexit. Time will tell whether this will be a lasting decline or whether new bilateral relations can be strengthened in the future. Two major cities - Leipzig and Birmingham - are doing their bit to facilitate a new gateway for innovative firms to make the most of the emerging opportunities in both locations.
Last month an event for Birmingham companies successfully highlighted these opportunities:
For Birmingham and Midlands companies, the fastest growing city in Germany offers a warm and friendly welcome based on many years of close cooperation. With Leipzig's strengths in advanced manufacturing, future mobility, Artificial Intelligence, cleantech, and digital health, the city offers immense potential for businesses looking to expand into Europe. Birmingham and Leipzig share a common commitment to smart and sustainable growth, making them ideal twin cities to explore opportunities for collaboration and growth.
Birmingham and Leipzig started their partnership back in 1992, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the year following reunification. Initially co-operation was focused on supporting Leipzig’s economic regeneration and several large projects were successfully implemented with the help of Birmingham City Council’s Planning Department.
One key aspect about the partnership between Leipzig and Birmingham is the significance and role played by young people. A number of annual theatre and art projects brought children together and got them involved in the urban renewal process. Birmingham supported Leipzig significantly in developing European networks, in establishing contact with EU committees and international networks such as Eurocities, the group of six major cities created by the mayors of Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam.
Current projects in 2023 involve joint participation in an urban diplomacy exchange and a Mayor’s Roundtable; specialist exchange of administrative staff from the social and health sectors in Leipzig and Birmingham; initiation of school partnerships and a programme to promote young women in leadership. In May 2023 the renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was a special guest at the Leipzig Gewandhaus (the famous concert hall that is home to the city’s iconic orchestra) as part of the Mahler Festival.
Business links between Leipzig and Birmingham have been growing in recent years and have included a 2022 visit to the Midlands by Invest Region Leipzig and the regional trade body from the state of Saxony. The visit focussed on linkages in areas such as railway research; clean energy and hydrogen; and links between universities in both regions.
In June 2023, Invest Region Leipzig came to Birmingham to engage with Midlands companies for a roundtable discussion on "How Leipzig can be your Gateway to Europe" at Innovation Birmingham Campus.
This event was jointly hosted by Invest Region Leipzig and Bruntwood SciTech, Birmingham, and turned out to be an excellent opportunity for innovation-driven businesses across the Midlands to learn about the opportunities in Germany's fastest-growing tech city. The event was supported by German Trade and Invest and the Birmingham City Council.