HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation - Dr Rolf Strittmatter

With a persuasive bid for the 2024 Olympics to pursue, an unrivalled quality of life and a vibrant local economy, the future is set fair for Germany's second city. Finance Director Europe talks with Dr Rolf Strittmatter, managing director of HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation and Hamburg Marketing about its vision for a compact and sustainable games and the likely legacy of the planet's premium athletics extravaganza.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you did prior to joining HWF and HMG as managing director at the beginning of 2015?

Dr Rolf Strittmatter: I am from the south-west of Germany, and that is where I began my career in regional business development. I served as CEO for a medical technology company, and later held a chair for business development at the University of Mannheim for two years. Most recently, I was the federal state of Brandenburg's CEO for economic development. I wrote my doctoral thesis on regional marketing in Europe.

What would you say were some of the biggest challenges you face in your new role?

My biggest challenge as managing director of Hamburg Marketing and HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation is to raise the city of Hamburg's profile. When the applicant cities for the 2024 Olympics were announced in Boston earlier this year, the list included Paris, Rome, and "Hamburg, Germany".

In future, we would like everyone to know that Hamburg is Germany's second-biggest city and northern Germany's economic powerhouse, so there will be no further need for "comma, Germany".

What projects in the pipeline will play a key role in maintaining Hamburg's position as Germany's 'Gateway to the World'?

Early June will see the 29th World Ports Conference. With its smartPORT initiative, the city promotes sustainable economic growth in Hamburg's marine sector. The ties between industry, trade and the digital sector offer great potential; not only does Hamburg possess one of the world's most advanced ports, but it is also a media and digital industries hub.

With its high quality of life, Hamburg is a hugely popular destination for people with creative minds, such as games developers and young entrepreneurs. Huge corporations, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, have their European headquarters in the city.

Congratulations on beating Berlin to be named as Germany's bid to host the 2024 Olympics. What does this mean for Hamburg?
The German Olympic Sports Confederation has decided in favour of Hamburg, rather than against Berlin. It was a fair competition, and Berlin is now supporting Germany's application, with Hamburg as the venue. We really appreciate that.

For Hamburg, the Olympics offer great potential. The application alone contributes to the global positioning Hamburg, especially in Asia and the Americas. Furthermore, we believe that the Olympics will expedite essential investments in infrastructure, and facilitate numerous important urban development projects.

What were the main reasons behind Hamburg being chosen as opposed to your main competitor at the time, Berlin?

Hardly any other city offers such maritime flair, and I am sure that Hamburg's proximity to the water also influenced the Committee of the Olympic Sports Confederation. That said, the decisive factor was certainly the fact that Hamburg's concept responds to the new requirements for future Olympic Games.

The idea of bringing this fabulous sporting event to the city is being developed in collaboration with its residents. Hamburg, the European Green Capital 2011, is fully committed to all aspects of environmental compatibility and sustainability.

Since the announcement, what is being planned in terms of infrastructure and urban development?

Hamburg offers a unique venue by providing an urban area of more than 100 hectares. The Olympic Park would open up an area that, until recently, was segregated from the city by the former free port boundary fence.

Most of the Olympic venues will be located within a radius of only 10km from the Olympic Centre, and many of the venues are within walking distance from the city centre. After the Games, the Olympic Village and the accommodation facilities for international media representatives will be transformed into thousands of new residential units for Hamburg's citizens: the general public will benefit from the Games, as desired by the IOC.

The Olympic Centre will be transformed into an attractive green quarter with a public park - in the heart of the port, and just a few minutes' walk from the city centre.The port of Hamburg will be developed further. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will add impetus to the modernisation of the port area and the efficient use of available land.

The city's transport infrastructure will be advanced further in order to meet the latest technological standards, and comply with the requirements for barrier-free mobility. This will be to the benefit of road users, pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, motorists and users of the public transport system.

Only a few of the competition and training facilities will have to be built entirely from scratch. Many of Hamburg's sports facilities will be modernised - for the benefit of Hamburg as a sports city and all those who are actively involved in sports.

How will Hamburg ensure that the legacy of the Olympics, and the investment made in aspects such as real estate in order to bid for it, lasts for longer than just the games? Is there sustainable investment taking place to ensure the benefits can be realised by Hamburg regardless of what happens?

With the idea of hosting games in the heart of the city, Hamburg pursues a future-oriented concept for sustainable urban development. The Olympic City is only 1km from the city centre, and will be transformed into an urban residential area after the Games.

The Olympic Hall will be turned into a new cruise terminal, and the stadium will be largely retained for subsequent use.

Environmental issues are clearly set to play a large role in the development of European cities. What's your vision for a greener Hamburg in the years to come?

When Hamburg applied for the title of European Green Capital, HWF phrased its relocation strategy as follows: "Vision Hamburg - Responsible Growth." Since then, Hamburg has become the global centre for wind energy. We will follow along this path and continue to focus on newly emerging sustainable industries.

Dr Rolf Strittmatter, managing director of HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation and Hamburg Marketing.
The 2024 Olympic Games have the potential to leave a lasting legacy in Hamburg, particularly in terms of sustainable urban development.