© KölnTourismus GmbH, Foto: Axel Schulten

Business in Cologne

Broadly diversified and always open to new ideas.

Innovative media metropolis, launch pad for groundbreaking new businesses, international hub, leading logistics location and home to numerous traditional commercial and industrial enterprises, Cologne and its surrounding area have grown continuously to become one of Europe’s key economic centers and a hidden champion of the start-up scene.

The Cathedral City and its environs constitute a huge catchment area. Situated in North Rhine-Westfalia, Cologne lies at the heart of one of Germany’s highest ranked regions for population and purchasing power. In fact, some 17 million people live and work within a 100 km radius of Cologne. Numerous other cities in the Rhineland and the Ruhr region can be reached within an hour. As a business location, Cologne is also characterized by a broad mix of industries and sizes of business. 


Cologne is home to conglomerates, numerous family-run medium-sized manufacturers - including many hidden champions - as well as a multitude of start-ups. Cologne's traditional industries include chemical and automotive. Currently, the service sector generates most jobs, with business service providers, the retail and hospitality industries, finance, and insurance, for example, all providing employment.

© Volker Dennebier

Cologne: Germany’s second largest insurance center

The second largest insurance center in Germany, Cologne is happy to welcome huge multinationals from the sector as well as numerous "InsurTech" startups.

Cologne's insurance industry benefits from innovative digital solutions developed jointly by traditional insurance companies, industry experts, startups, and students. Annual events such as InsurTech or the Insurance Symposium of the TH Köln University provide the ideal environment for this.

In 2020, the Zurich Insurance Group moved its Rhineland headquarters to the banks of the Rhine in Cologne. The Zurich Campus on the site of the new MesseCity mixes modernity with a sense of tradition. In addition to the proximity to the Rhine, the three buildings provide workplaces for around 2,700 staff members as well as a host of smart, sustainable, and digital features designed to ensure a perfect workflow.

AXA Insurance, which along with Zurich is one of the five largest European insurers, is also headquartered on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne. Besides AXA and Zurich, more than 50 German insurance and reinsurance companies have their headquarters in the Rhine metropolis, while another 60 have a branch office here – including renowned groups such as DEVK, Gothaer, HDI-Gerling and DKV.

Tourism: the keystone to Cologne!

The tourism sector, which is heavily populated by small and medium-sized enterprises, is an important economic and locational factor for Cologne. A diverse high-quality tourism offering makes the region attractive for businesses, investors, guests, skilled workers and, of course, event planners.

As a result, Cologne and the region also benefit as a place to live, work, study and invest!

To ensure that this remains the case over the long term, it is essential to consistently address industry-specific challenges such as technological change. Socio-ecological change is also inevitable if we are to secure our livelihoods and, at the same time, keep our businesses and the city competitive over the medium and long term.


Promoting tourism is not an end in itself, but rather part of Cologne’s locational and economic development! The Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce offers independent guidance, assistance, networks, recommendations and new impetus.

An Interview with the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Dr Nicole Grünewald, Head of the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce, talks to the CCB about the event industry, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and what has impressed and also annoyed her in these times.


Media metropolis

Cologne is a media city. It is home to Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), the largest media provider in the EU. In addition to the public broadcaster, Europe's largest private media conglomerate, the RTLGroup, major broadcasting groups and numerous smaller companies in the media and communications industry are also based in Cologne. The Mediapark, which provides more than 5,000 jobs in the communications, culture, media, and creative industries, was established on the site of a disused rail freight yard back in 2004. Cologne also counts as one of Germany’s top five publishing locations and one of Germany’s five most digital cities.


© MMC Studios, Foto: Rico Hartig

New Work

The Ship

With coworking spaces, think tanks, a gym, a restaurant and its own daycare center, The Ship responds to the demands of the digital age for flexible and networked work structures. The developers' plan to build the most digital office building in Germany has come to fruition: From access control to parking garage management, everything in the FOND OF headquarters and Ehrenfeld startup hub works via app.

Soon The Ship will have a new neighbor. The Vorum - another high-tech office property – with capacity for over 800 workstations – is being developed by evolutiq GmbH, a Cologne-based, independent investment management company. Vorum is also all about new ways of working.

The new building’s brick façade is the only reminder of its industrial heritage. Inside everything is ultramodern. Based on the latest research into the interplay between digital building technologies, health, and well-being, Vorum will provide the ideal working environment. The man behind the THE SHIP, evolutiq GmbH’s founder Dr. Oliver Steinki, has already been able to gather a lot of experience.

I/D Cologne

Another construction project set to shape Cologne as a business location is I/D Cologne. Cologne's largest business park development is going up on the site of a disused railway freight yard in Cologne’s Mülheim district. Embedded in the attractive Schanzenstraße cultural and business area, with its well-known E-Werk and Palladium venues, the seven-hectare development will provide space for both living and working. Plans envisage 160,000 square meters of office, hotel, restaurant, and fitness space, with smart building technology and a neighborhood parking garage equipped with the latest sustainable e-charging infrastructure making the ensemble fit for the future.

Smart City Cologne

Sustainability also plays a key role across various other sectors of Cologne’s economy. Some of the concepts set to have a lasting impact on Cologne as a business center include sustainable(r) events, a zero-waste concept, "Productive Cologne" or "Connected Cologne" concepts developed as part of Cologne’s City Strategy 2030+, a platform for local climate protection projects and SmartCity Cologne, which works with local associations, businesses, and individuals to develop forward-looking technologies.

By the way, Cologne’s strong emphasis on research and innovation when it comes to the city’s environmental economy has not gone unnoticed, as witnessed by the good ratings that Cologne regularly receives in the Germany-wide BITKOM Smart City Index. In 2022, for example, Cologne ranked first out of 81 participating cities and fourth in a nationwide comparison. In assessing cities, the Smart City Index looks at "administration," "IT and communication," "energy and environment," "mobility" and "society".


Coming out on top against rival cities, Cologne has been awarded its second EU agency. With the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) already calling Cologne home, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) now plans to open the headquarters of its Innovation Community for Culture and Creative Industries (CCI), or EIT Culture & Creativity for short, in the city. Still in the start-up phase, the agency will play a central role in innovating for the EU's cultural and creative industries over the next 15 years on a financially independent basis.
Regardless of whether they are large, medium-sized or small businesses, traditional companies, EU agencies, start-ups or scale-ups, enterprises all benefit from the region's dynamism and potential, strong economic base, vast higher education landscape and "innate" soft skills. Cologne is agile, open, tolerant, fun-loving and, with an average age of 42 years, comparatively young.

FAQs - frequently asked questions

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