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Developing Frankfurt as a game industry hub - MCV

Developing Frankfurt as a game industry hub

Frankfurt Economic Development’s centre of creative industries on how it’s helping to establish the region as one of Germany’s most vibrant games clusters
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The software and games sector within the creative industries is recognised as one of the strongest markets in Frankfurt, and it's a hotspot we recently covered in depth with local studios.

The city counts 7,800 employees in this area, and between 2007 and 2014 the number of jobs offered in these sectors increased by some 47 per cent. In total, the creative industry employs 25,065 professionals, while IT accounts for 29,267 jobs in 4,059 different companies.

The software and games sector is said to have represented 19 per cent of the total turnover of Germany’s creative industries.

“Frankfurt has exploded over the past several years and has established itself as an important games industry hub within Germany,” says Manuela Schiffner, director of Frankfurt Economic Development’s centre of creative industries, an agency that works to strengthen the city’s economic future by creating the ideal business climate for growth.

“We have one of the most vibrant and important games clusters – no other region offers such a distinguished concentration of games developers, games development related companies, publishers, producers, R&D and universities.

“The Frankfurt metropolitan area has the perfect ecosystem for harnessing digital potential – namely a strong creative workforce, thriving research and educational support, solid industry infrastructure, an international art scene – all-in-all a great environment for further growth and development and a great place to live.”

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Spurring growth

Frankfurt Economic Development wants to spur this growth even further. It plans to obtain its ambitions of a prosperous region by providing support for local business, new investment and global trade. It also aims to focus on people by attracting talent from the local area, neighbours or other countries, and ensuring such skilled professionals are retained.

The agency is a full subsidiary of the Frankfurt am Main, and acts as an intermediary between business and politics, ensuring industry needs are heard by the decision makers. It offers advice to firms in the region on areas such as business, site-planning and economic developments in Frankfurt, and devises what it calls cluster-based economic development strategies to help ensure a creative and supportive technological hub.

Frankfurt has exploded over the past several years and has established itself as an important games industry hub within Germany.

Manuela Schiffner, Frankfurt Economic Development’s centre of creative industries

One way it achieves its aims is to give recommendations on economic policy and location-related activities, as well as developing plans to safeguard Frankfurt’s future in business. Its location services, which it offers free of charge, are designed to speed up the process of founding a company, and the agency helps guide firms through the entire process. It can also put businesses in contact with professional lawyers, a notary, tax adviser, banks or experts for the specific sector a new company plans to operate in.

It’s no easy task though. Countries with their own games development hubs surround Germany, including Finland, Sweden, France and the UK, and not forgetting cities closer to home, such as Hamburg and Berlin.

But Frankfurt Economic Development believes the city has just the right conditions to support entrepreneurs with the vision to open a new company, as well as supporting established firms in expanding their business.
“On their way to independence, entrepreneurs will experience individual advice and support by us,” says Schiffner.

“Thanks to our excellent network with municipal authorities and the local business scene as well as to our extensive knowledge about various industries, we can provide valuable support in starting and running a business. Frankfurt has also a thriving games scene with a growing community, offering an atmosphere of trust and mutual support.

“The games community and Frankfurt, as a tolerant and cosmopolitan city, welcomes everyone with a huge melting pot of knowledge and open arms.”



To further fuel this growth, the agency has identified games as a key economic driver, a factor Schiffner says “cannot be stressed enough”. She adds that the city of Frankfurt is proud of being home to such a dynamic industry and wants to offer long-term and individual support for games industry-specific needs, rather than just adding games to other schemes where support may be slow.

“Big studios work on an international level and many smaller developers surprise with their artful and original projects, the young talents trained there were very much in demand,” says Schiffner. “The City of Frankfurt is very proud of their achievements. This is a display that shows that we are going in the right direction and proves that the Frankfurt metropolitan area is the right place to be if you want to be part of the innovative, creative, and technological future.”

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Incentivising business

As seen in our previous look at Frankfurt's development hub, Frankfurt is home to top triple-A companies such as Crytek and Deck 13, while Doom developer id Software has just set up shop in the city, and Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium has seen fit to open a new Foundry42 studio in the region. This is despite the lack of tax breaks enjoyed by other countries, where it could perhaps be more cost-effective to run a studio, particularly at scale. Though of course this may not always be a factor for multi-studio companies that can already claim elsewhere.

Schiffner admits tax incentives are always going to attract companies to set up shop in a region that offers them. And if there are no specific tax breaks available, “it is much harder for regions or countries to compete successfully within the global market”.

To compete then, she says there must be other advantages and incentives for business, such as access to fast digital infrastructure, to market, finance tools and human capital.

“All these you´ll find in Frankfurt,” she states. “Let us take a closer look to the appeal of the city for new habitants independently of specific tax breaks. Around 288 people per week [come to the city], that implies 15,000 people per annum come to live and work in Frankfurt.”

There are a broad selection of different financing tools available to entrepreneurs to build businesses. Frankfurt Economic Development supports devs with this by finding the right funding opportunities.

“We go on to filter the individual requirements from the companies so that they can make the right decision in order to guarantee investment, credits or venture capital,” says Schiffner.

Those aiming to open a studio in Frankfurt or wider Frankfurt Rhine-Main region may want to seek out the agency’s free advice and services when considering a move to the region. Frankfurt may not offer enticing tax incentives, but it does offer an ever-growing tech hub full of talent in an ideal location.

All Frankfurt image credits: ©Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main

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