Cologne: Germany’s Creative Powerhouse




Nestled along the Rhine River, Cologne isn’t just famous for its stunning cathedral and fragrant perfume. This vibrant German city has quietly transformed itself into a thriving hub for media and creative industries, attracting talent and businesses from across Europe and beyond. With over 70,000 people employed in the sector and contributing about 12% to Cologne’s total economic output, the creative industries are a cornerstone of the city’s economy.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Imagine walking through the streets of Cologne and bumping into your favorite TV stars or stumbling upon a film set. This isn’t a far-fetched scenario in a city that’s home to over 120 TV and radio stations. Broadcasting giants like RTL Group, Europe’s largest TV, radio, and production company, and WDR, Germany’s largest public broadcaster, have made Cologne their base, turning the city into a veritable Hollywood of Germany.

But it’s not just about the big names. The Cologne region boasts world-class studio facilities and a deep talent pool that would make any filmmaker’s eyes light up. The Coloneum, one of Europe’s largest TV production facilities covering an impressive 157,000 square meters, is where the magic happens for many popular German TV shows. With about 1,500 film and TV productions annually generating a turnover of approximately €1.5 billion, Cologne’s film industry is booming.

Digital Dreams and Creative Schemes

Cologne isn’t content with just dominating the traditional media landscape. The city is rapidly becoming a hotbed for digital innovation and creative entrepreneurship. From cutting-edge advertising agencies to scrappy startups, Cologne is where ideas come to life.

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Join us this Autumn in London for one-on-one meetings with the team from KölnBusiness, Cologne’s official Economic Development Agency.

Get bespoke advice from the Agency and local Cologne ecosystem stakeholders about the opportunities for your business in the region, and learn about the incentives and benefits that are on offer.

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Major players in the advertising world like Mediacom, Ogilvy, and Publicis, have set up shop here, contributing to an industry that generates an annual turnover of around €1 billion. The city’s digital economy, comprising over 500 IT and telecommunications companies, is equally impressive, generating an annual turnover of about €8.3 billion. The city’s startup scene is also buzzing with energy, particularly in areas like adtech, e-commerce, and other digital business models.

The gaming industry is another jewel in Cologne’s crown. With about 150 game development studios, the city has become a mecca for gamers and developers alike. Cologne hosts Gamescom, the world’s largest gaming event, attracting over 370,000 visitors annually and cementing its status as a global gaming hub.

A Melting Pot of Creativity

What makes Cologne truly special is its dense creative cluster. Here, graphic designers, architects, fashion mavens, game developers, and musicians don’t just coexist – they collaborate and innovate together. This vibrant ecosystem, comprising more than 2,000 media companies, fosters a unique environment where creativity knows no bounds.

The University of Cologne and other local institutions, like the renowned International Film School Cologne (ifs) and the Cologne Game Lab, play a crucial role in fueling this creative engine. They produce a steady stream of skilled graduates ready to make their mark on the world, ensuring that approximately 20% of all employees in Cologne work in the creative sector.

The UK Connection

For UK companies in the media, advertising, or creative industries, Cologne offers an irresistible proposition. It’s not just a gateway to the lucrative German market, but a launchpad for European expansion.

Your Invitation

Join us this Autumn for one-on-one meetings with the team from KölnBusiness, Cologne’s official Economic Development Agency.

Get bespoke advice from local Cologne stakeholders about the opportunities for your business in the region and learn about the incentives and benefits that are on offer.

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Imagine setting up shop in the MediaPark, a 20-hectare site in central Cologne that houses over 250 media companies. You’d be surrounded by potential partners, clients, and a pool of world-class talent. The city’s excellent transport links make it easy to stay connected with the rest of Europe, while its supportive business environment helps newcomers hit the ground running.

Strategies for Success

So, how can UK companies make the most of what Cologne has to offer? Here are a few winning strategies:

  • Establish a local presence to fully immerse yourself in the creative ecosystem.
  • Network, network, network! Attend industry events and conferences to build valuable connections.
  • Partner with local universities to tap into fresh talent and cutting-edge research.
  • Take advantage of business support services to navigate the German market.
  • Consider joint ventures or acquisitions to quickly scale your local operations.
  • Tailor your offerings to meet the unique needs of German and European clients.
  • Leverage the expertise of KölnBusiness, the city’s economic development agency, which offers tailored support services, market insights, and networking opportunities to help international companies establish and grow their presence in Cologne.

The Future is Bright

As the sun sets over the Rhine, casting a golden glow on Cologne’s iconic cathedral, one thing becomes clear: this city’s creative spirit is just beginning to shine. With the media and creative industries generating an annual turnover exceeding €27 billion, Cologne’s position as a creative powerhouse is undeniable.

For those bold enough to seize the opportunity, Cologne offers a chance to be part of something truly special – a creative renaissance in the heart of Europe. Whether you’re a media mogul, a digital innovator, or a creative visionary, it’s time to ask yourself: are you ready to make your mark in Cologne, where media, innovation, and creativity converge?

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Ian Collins
Ian Collins
Ian Collins, with an extensive background spanning over 30 years in business development and general management, co-founded GTM Global in 2015. His experience encompasses hi-tech industries such as security, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, and enterprise software solutions. In his career, Ian has started several tech companies, overseen two corporate ventures, executed a management buy-in, and led two business turnarounds. He has also been involved in buying, selling, and merging various of his companies, and has achieved two successful business exits. Ian's expertise is particularly focused on business growth strategies and leading-edge proposition development.