Record investments in Saxony-Anhalt in 2021 with a focus on sustainable future technologies

The growth in the number of companies moving to Saxony-Anhalt has continued. In 2021, the Investment and Marketing Corporation Saxony-Anhalt (IMG) acquired 68 new projects and helped 20 companies make the decision to move to the region, creating 2,019 new permanent jobs. In addition, 632 existing jobs were safeguarded. This exceeds even the figures for the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Over the past three years, the majority of the new arrivals came from the ICT, chemical and food industries. One notable feature of 2021 was the increase in the number of projects relating to the circular economy and medical technology. The finishing touch to these developments was the recent decision by Intel to invest 17 billion euros in two semiconductor plants in Magdeburg.

“The close links between the research sector and industry, the large number of highly qualified employees and the carefully targeted investment funding have made Saxony-Anhalt into an attractive location for foreign investors,” says Thomas Einsfelder, managing director of the Investment and Marketing Corporation Saxony-Anhalt (IMG). The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed the fact that foreign companies are impressed by the benefits of Saxony-Anhalt as a location. “Because companies see this area at the heart of Germany as a region of future technologies,” explains Einsfelder, “most of the investments planned for 2021 have gone ahead, despite the pandemic.”

Green chemicals from sustainable raw materials

The Halle-Leipzig area has a reputation both inside and outside Germany as a center for green chemicals. The Finnish UPM Group is currently building a biorefinery in Leuna where sustainable basic chemicals will be produced using wood from the region. The 1300-hectare industrial site at the location of the former Leuna works came out on top in the international competition to host the large-scale plant. Alongside around 300 international firms, the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP is also based here. The institute is carrying out research into the industrial production of chemicals from sustainable raw materials. This and the proximity to potential customers from the chemical industry, plus the supply of green electricity, were the key factors that convinced UPM to make the move to Saxony-Anhalt. The availability of renewable energy enables the companies already located in the area to manufacture products that are sustainable right from the start of the value chain.

Significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

For the UPM Group, the Leuna site will form the core of a new business unit developing bioproducts from sustainably harvested natural raw materials. “According to UPM, it is investing 550 million euros in the plant. The fact that it has opted for Leuna is a demonstration of the competitiveness of Saxony-Anhalt as a business location and a region of future technologies,” emphasizes Thomas Einsfelder. In Leuna, UPM is laying the foundations for growth in a completely new area of business without the use of fossil raw materials. The company has developed its own technologies for this purpose which will be used on an industrial scale in the biorefinery. Sawmill residues and sustainably certified industrial hardwood that has been selectively felled will be processed to produce a new generation of basic chemicals. These include bio-monoethylene glycol (bMEG), bio-monopropylene glycol, functional fillers and industrial sugars. The innovative methods used to process the renewable raw materials will result in significant reductions in CO2 emissions, among other things.

The total annual capacity of the biorefinery will amount to 220,000 metric tons. The start of production at the plant was planned for the end of 2022, but interruptions to the supply chains caused by the pandemic have resulted in the schedule being delayed by a year. The UPM plant in Leuna will then be part of a European value chain. The customers for the chemicals made from biomass include companies from the rubber and plastics industry which will use them to manufacture products such as tires, shoe soles, packaging, bottles and textiles.

Pharmaceuticals from plants

The Japanese chemical company Topas Advanced Polymers is also constructing a type of plant in Leuna of which there are only a few in the world. It will produce cyclic olefin copolymers (COC). This “plastic of the future” has innovative properties. It is used in medicine, optics and electronics and is easy to recycle. The Dutch company Echo Pharmaceuticals Deutschland is also setting up a new facility in Leuna where it will develop and manufacture pharmaceutical, cosmetic and nutraceutical products from plants.

Solar cells with a high energy output

In 2021, the Swiss company Meyer Burger Technology AG decided to construct its new plant for the production of solar cells in Thalheim in the district of Bitterfeld-Wolfen. Using an extremely efficient technology, it will manufacture solar cells with a high power output. The plant in Thalheim represents a new type of venture for the Swiss mechanical engineering firm. Its objective is to supply technologically advanced solar cells and modules that are made in Europe. The fact that it is setting out on this new path in Saxony-Anhalt is testament to the technical expertise and experience to be found in “Solar Valley.” The aim is for up to 200,000 solar cells to roll off the production line in Thalheim every day.

STERIS Applied Sterilization Technologies has also built a new plant in Thalheim. The global group provides sterilization services for manufacturers of medical and industrial products, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. The facility in Bitterfeld-Wolfen is operated by Herotron E-Beam Service GmbH. The sterilization process there uses accelerated electrons and is ideal for highly complex medical products.

Global players move to the logistics center in the heart of Germany

“Saxony-Anhalt, which is located in the center of Europe, is an important hub for the transport of goods,” explains Thomas Einsfelder, managing director of IMG, and highlights the example of the Korean company Samsung, which is one of the five largest tire manufacturers in the world. Samsung SDS Europe Ltd., the IT and logistics company in the Samsung Group, is setting up a base in Magdeburg and, in the future, plans to sell its Hankook tires throughout Germany from Saxony-Anhalt. The building it is constructing at the logistics center in Magdeburg-Rothensee will cover an area the size of five-and-a-half soccer pitches. The benefits of the location include the good hinterland connections via freeways, waterways and rail lines to the port of Hamburg, among other places.

The Austrian lighting manufacturer EGLO is also exploiting these advantages. It is building its largest warehouse for finished products at the logistics center in Magdeburg-Rothensee, which will supply customers in Germany and Scandinavia.

Large-scale production of algae

Saxony-Anhalt is also a model region for the bioeconomy where biotechnology processes are developed and applied in industry, energy generation and food production. Algae offers significant potential for the future and world-class research on the subject has been taking place in Saxony-Anhalt for more than two decades. Making the most of this technical expertise, the British company AlgaeCytes is building the world’s largest factory for algae production with 20 bioreactors on a ten-hectare site in Dessau-Roßlau. According to the company, it is investing 55 million euros in the plant and creating 70 new permanent jobs with the aim of producing 300 metric tons of algae every year. This will be processed to produce a variety of substances that are used in the manufacture of food supplements, medicines and cosmetics. 

The background of the Investment and Marketing Corporation Saxony-Anhalt

The Investment and Marketing Corporation (IMG) is the economic development agency of Saxony-Anhalt. Working on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry, we promote Saxony-Anhalt as a location for business and research. We are also responsible for marketing the region as a tourist destination in Germany and abroad. The IMG actively supports and assists business location projects in Saxony-Anhalt. On behalf of the region, the IMG also supports businesses already based here that need help with their investments. Our service is free and confidential.