Hamburg has ambitions to be a virtual reality hub, by Alex Cruickshank

The German city of Hamburg is setting itself up as a potential hub for virtual reality startups

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that’s been on the cusp of usefulness for over two decades. Until recently, bold claims for its potential have never been fully matched by the capabilities of the technology.

In the past few years, that’s changed. The technology has become usable and, perhaps more importantly, there are genuine practical applications for it. That’s especially true in the fields of industry and gaming/entertainment.

VR-focused businesses are popping up all over the world. Cities are vying to offer attractive locations, grants, tax breaks and infrastructure for the new VR generation. One such city is Hamburg, Germany, which is aiming to become the VR capital of the country – and perhaps even Europe.

It’s building on a strong base. Hamburg, with a population of 1.8 million, has the highest concentration of creative agencies in the country. This is a reflection of the infrastructure, communications and transport – it’s a seaport that also has good rail and air links – and it appeals to creative people.

It lacks the low cost of living and general grunginess of Berlin (although both those factors are evaporating fast in the startup-riddled German capital) but still has a Bohemian feel and a broad mix of nationalities. It’s a pretty city, too, both architecturally and in terms of open spaces, yet it also boasts an appealing nightlife, especially along the legendary Reeperbahn in the St Pauli district.

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