NRW.INVEST Explores Georgia’s Investment Potential

NRW.INVEST, the state-owned economic development agency of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), conducts international marketing for the NRW region, considered to be Germany’s No.1 investment location.

NRW Invest, headquartered in Düsseldorf and having subsidiaries in the USA and Japan, and branch offices across China, Korea, India, Turkey, Poland, Russia and Israel, brings foreign direct investment to the NRW region.

NRW.INVEST provides services and expertise to companies both from Germany and abroad, while closely collaborating with the local and regional development agencies, ministries, associations, chambers of commerce and other business-related organizations.

GEORGIA TODAY met with Ms. Petra Wassner, NRW. INVEST CEO, and Elena Matekina, Head of Unit, during their very first visit to Tbilisi, Georgia, as they explore Georgia’s investment potential and possibilities of partnerships and cooperation with the business sector in their country.

Why did you decide to come to Georgia?

We’d been planning a visit to Georgia because it’s one of the strategic countries in the Caucasus region. We started with Ukraine, Azerbaijan and now Georgia. One of our main reasons for coming was to see what could be of interest for business relations between our two states. The second reason is to see how the infrastructure will be developed concerning the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) strategy initiated by the Chinese government. We see a huge impact on all these countries that are connected via the New Silk Road.

North Rhine-Westphalia is not only the economic powerhouse of Germany, we’re also a top logistics hub in Europe. For example, we have Duisburg with the biggest inland port DUISPORT worldwide, with a harbor that has industrial and commercial sites for logistics and other manufacturing issues; three of the seven trains coming from China to Europe end there and from there, goods can be distributed by train or by ship. That’s why we’re so interested in the OBOR and also in the countries that are on the New Silk Road or nearby, since we know that there are main routes and side routes, too, which will be developed. We think NRW is an ideal partner. The new city and port to be built in Anaklia are very interesting in terms of cooperation and possible participation from Germany.

What are the major fields of operation of NRW.INVEST?

We are a state-owned economic development corporation of our state NRW. Our company was founded in 1960. We have a long tradition and in the past decades we supported economic development, structural exchange and investments from abroad. We provide consultancy and expertise to foreign investors on how they can start their business in Germany, how to find the right partners, and answer different questions. We serve investors as a one-stop agency. We offer investor-related services directly in the target countries where we have our subsidiaries. Currently, we’re focusing on digitalization and start-ups. In North Rhine-Westphalia the density of industry is very high, up to 28 percent, and we’re an ideal location for digitalization of manufacturing processes in different sectors of industry and logistic chains. We’re looking for investors who fit in this value chain, as well as for start-ups. As a service agency, we collect information and develop concepts for investment projects. Our mission is to create a communication platform for organizations and institutions.

Which industries are you focusing more on in Georgia?

This is our first visit. We know that agriculture is one of the dominating industries in Georgia; however it wasn’t our sole focus. We see a big potential for cooperation in the future, for joint projects. Our first visit is to give us an impression how we could connect logistics and service providers in NRW and Georgia. For us, it is important to bring international partners together. German companies have good opportunities to assemble or manufacture in Georgia. For NRW, Georgia could be of interest because of its strategic location in the Caucasus area.

The NRW region is the number one foreign direct investment location in Germany. How?

25 percent of all the foreign companies are located in our state - companies with more than fifty percent of foreign capital: one third of all the foreign direct investments in Germany are concentrated in our region. How did we achieve it? We attracted foreign companies and supported them in developing a business community in NRW. For example, the Japanese Business Community, with around 600 companies, also has a business club, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, a kindergarten and schools for the families of the managers.

Why do you think digitalization is important today?

Digitalization will change our factories and cities in a disruptive way. To support start-ups, our NRW government started an initiative to build Digital Hubs with ecosystems, co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators.

Can you share some of your impressions of Georgia so far?

We are very impressed by the country, its countryside, its excellent food.

Tbilisi is a fantastic city! We’re so impressed of the spirit we found here, a spirit of creating for the future.

Nino Gugunishvili

26 June 2017 17:45