Germany’s DLR and Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic join in Lunar Cooperation

As the legendary Red Whittaker stated, Astrobotic is the astonishing convergence of multiple fields of study and new technologies that are on the absolute cutting edge: aerospace engineering, robotics, information science, physics, communications and good old manufacturing, but in its 4.0 cloak.  Astrobotic Technology, Inc., an official partner of NASA, is a lunar logistics company headquartered in Pittsburgh that delivers payloads to the Moon for everyone – companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and folks like you and me.  With its partner Carnegie Mellon University, Astrobotic is pursuing the Google Lunar XPRIZE.  Because Whittaker is Chairman of the Board, there is a very good chance Astrobotic will win.  A prodigious researcher and highly successful entrepreneur, Whittaker is the primary mover behind Pittsburgh’s National Robotics Engineering Center, Caterpillar’s product fleet automation, the founding of RedZone Robotics, and a first place in the DARPA Urban Challenge for autonomous vehicles.  Whittaker acknowledges the strong German contribution to many the robotics programs in our region and at Carnegie Mellon and he is pleased that the German Aerospace Center (DLR), with its tremendous strengths, is formally collaborating with Astrobotic.  Hats off and best wishes to CEO John Thornton and his team!AStrobotics


Why German companies find Pittsburgh attractive

In the not too distant past, Pittsburgh was a bustling place known for blast furnaces, smoking chimneys and soot, but when America’s steel industry imploded and plants closed, the population of Pittsburgh plunged while unemployment skyrocketed. The Steel City quickly became part of the Rust Belt. Today there is little trace of this history. Pittsburgh has reinvented itself, becoming a “center of inventors”, as Kathrin Werner aptly calls it. Ms. Werner is the U.S. Correspondent for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest broadsheet newspaper. During her visit to Pittsburgh, she saw autonomous medical robots, power-folding baby strollers and intelligent drones, all made in what was once the Steel City. Thanks in large measure to the region’s excellent universities, including Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, the city has become an innovative start-up and high tech center. International companies such as Disney, Google, Apple and Uber have research facilities in Pittsburgh.  The region is also home to more than 125 German companies.


How has Pittsburgh achieved such a dramatic turnaround? Kathrin Werner spoke with Joe Peilert, who serves as the CEO of the North American division of the German company VEKA, the world´s leading producer of PVC-U profile systems for windows and doors. He is also a board member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the German American Chamber of Commerce. Peilert sees many parallels between the region around Pittsburgh and the Ruhr area in Germany. This includes a skilled and loyal workforce with a strong work ethic. In contrast to cities like Bochum, however, Peilert sees greater appetite for structural change in Pittsburgh. New start-ups are founded and grow up alongside companies like VEKA, which expands. The population is slowly increasing, the cost of living is low, and transportation connections are favorable.  In the center of the city that once was one of the dirtiest in the country, there is now the greenest skyscraper in the world.  It is the new headquarters of PNC, the fifth largest financial institution in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a very attractive business location – also for German companies.

Read Kathrin Werner’s article on Pittsburgh here (in German):

Warum deutsche Firmen Pittsburgh attraktiv finden

Vor nicht allzu langer Zeit  war Pittsburgh eine lebhafte Stadt, die für Hochöfen, rauchende Schornsteine und Ruß bekannt war. Doch als die US-amerikanische Stahlindustrie unterging und die Stahlwerke schlossen, sank die Bevölkerung von Pittsburgh rapide und die Arbeitslosigkeit stieg dramatisch. , Die Stahlstadt wurde Teil des Rostgürtels. Heutzutage merkt man davon jedoch kaum etwas, denn Pittsburgh hat sich neu erfunden – als „Zentrum der Erfinder“, wie es Kathrin Werner treffend bezeichnet. Frau Werner ist die U.S. Korrespondentin der Süddeutschen Zeitung. Während ihres Besuches in Pittsburgh traf sie auf autonome Krankenhaus-Roboter, faltbare Kinderwagen und intelligente Drohnen – allesamt hergestellt in der Stadt, die einst die Stahlstadt war. Vor allem auch dank der exzellenten Universitäten – dazu zählen Carnegie Mellon und University of Pittsburgh – ist Pittsburgh heute eine innovative Startup- und High-Tech-Metropole. Internationale Konzerne wie Disney, Google, Apple und Uber haben in Pittsburgh einen Forschungsstandort errichtet. Auch mehr als 125 deutsche Unternehmen sind hier zuhause.


Doch wie hat Pittsburgh diesen kompletten Wandel geschafft? Darüber sprach Kathrin Werner mit Joe Peilert, Nordamerika-Chef der deutschen Firma VEKA, dem Weltmarktführer für Kunststoff-Fensterrahmen. Er ist auch Vorstandsmitglied der GACCPIT. Peilert sieht viele Parallelen zwischen der Region um Pittsburgh und dem Ruhrgebiet, dazu zählt er eine gute, bodenständige und  treue  Arbeiterschaft mit einer starken Arbeitsmoral. Doch anders als in Städten wie Bochum sieht Peilert in Pittsburgh Mut zum Strukturwandel. Neue Startups entstehen neben Unternehmen wie VEKA, das expandiert. Auch die Einwohnerzahl steigt wieder leicht, die Lebenshaltungskosten sind gering und Transportverbindungen sind vorhanden. Mitten in der Stadt, die einst zu den schmutzigsten des Landes gehörte, steht heute das grünste Hochhaus der Welt. Es ist das neue Hauptquartier von PNC, dem fünftgrößten Geldhaus in den USA. Pittsburgh hat sich zu einem attraktiven Unternehmensstandort entwickelt – auch für deutsche Firmen.

Lesen Sie hier den gesamten Artikel über Pittsburgh von Kathrin Werner:

The newest German company in Pittsburgh and why it matters

Pittsburgh is exceptionally fortunate to have a new German-owned company taking up residence on the city’s South Side. SCOPE International launched its operations here in October 2015 to meet client needs in the United States. Mr. Gerald Meub, the company’s CEO, came to town to mark the occasion and to officially name Ms. Alethea Wieland to lead the company’s activities here.

SCOPE International is an independent, global, full-service contract research organization (CRO) headquartered in Mannheim, Germany. The firm supports clinical trials and regulatory submissions for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies worldwide. SCOPE offers comprehensive clinical development services, including project management, clinical monitoring, data management, biostatistics, and medical writing for a single trial or an entire clinical trials program.

Ms. Wieland is an entrepreneurial expert with extensive experience with clinical research operations, quality control and audits, regulatory submissions, and negotiations with the FDA and Health Canada. She knows first-hand Pittsburgh’s emerging life science sector with impressive drug, biologic, and medical device innovations and spin-outs from the universities that draw outside investments. Although some pockets within industry have taken notice, Pittsburgh is not well known outside of the US. Ms. Wieland firmly believes that Pittsburgh has “economic advantages over Boston, Atlanta, DC, Philadelphia, and other more expensive cities because of the significant savings that can be passed on to our clients from our competitive housing market, cost of living, salary requirements, and highly educated workforce.”

Christian Manders, COO of Promethean LifeSciences, Inc., which is based in Pittsburgh, said, “(our city) is one of the few regions in the world that has over a billion dollars in basic science research and top tier computer science talent (but) Pittsburgh has been underperforming on the commercialization of its research and SCOPE should be able to help the region take the next steps to prove and commercialize concepts.”

SCOPE’s U.S. office opens with multiple customer projects already underway with more slated for 2016. We wish the company well. It brings world-class capability in its field to the region and it recognizes that Pittsburgh is a very promising place to start its U.S. operations.

The Pittsburgh Symphony’s 2016 European Tour: An Opportunity to Combine Business and Culture


Business and culture are good for one another.  Neighborhoods revive when the arts move in.  Entire downtown business districts, like Pittsburgh’s, have seen economic revitalization thanks to cultural anchors like the Benedum, the Byham Theater, and Heinz Hall.  Many downtown corporations have recognized the benefit of supporting this transformation financially, but even companies with operations far from the city center benefit when the community as a whole is healthier through the impact of arts organizations.

The German American Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh Chapter was honored to host an event backstage at Heinz Hall on September 24 to provide guests an unusual preview of the PSO’s tour to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in May and June 2016.  Maestro Manfred Honeck was our guest of honor.  He spoke with passion about his commitment to the symphony and its musicians, to the importance of building musical bridges internationally and locally, and to his love for Pittsburgh.  He stayed to speak individually with every Chamber guest who wished to meet him.  The PSO’s new President and CEO, Melia Tourangeau spoke about her delight at coming to Pittsburgh just two months ago and noted the “brilliance” displayed by our orchestra.  Helge Wehmeier, former CEO of Bayer Corporation and symphony board member, emphasized the Pittsburgh Symphony’s stature among the world’s greatest orchestras and then gave concrete examples of how companies can derive benefit from the PSO’s concert stops in Europe.

Pittsburgh-based subsidiaries of European-owned companies can bring clients and parent-company colleagues to a concert in Frankfurt or Vienna, for example, and enjoy a world-class musical experience; a formal sponsorship of a concert gives a company even more engagement and visibility.  But the experience runs much deeper than merely promoting one’s brand, because it enables, as Mr. Wehmeier explained, an “emotional” connection among those who share the performance together.  A reception planned before or after a concert provides additional space for this emotional connection to find expression and to take root, whether through more effective relationships with headquarters’ executives or customer commitments to long-sought deals.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance has partnered with the PSO for years on its international tours to showcase our region’s assets to firms with existing ties to Pittsburgh or an interest in establishing US operations.  We can all serve as ambassadors for Pittsburgh by bringing such firms to PSO tour concerts next May and June and giving the PRA the chance to put an exclamation point on Pittsburgh’s story.

As our region’s premier cultural asset, the PSO shines a wonderful light on Pittsburgh wherever it goes.  We urge you to let the PSO work for you.

Why having the USA as the featured Partner Country of Hannover Messe will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for U.S. companies


Global businesses and investors have recognized Hannover Messe as a top trade and investment show for decades, but with the United States as the event Partner Country for the first time in history, there is more opportunity for U.S. companies and the nation as a whole to showcase itself as the global business leader.

Companies that participate as U.S. exhibitors in a U.S. Pavilion will find unequaled advantage by participating in the U.S. Pavilions:

  • Connect directly to more than 200,000 attendees, including global investors, buyers, distributors, resellers, and members of the business media.
  • Reach a global audience that comes from more than 70 countries.
  • Network with more than 100 business delegations that come to the event ready to make business deals.
  • Connect across industry sectors from energy, industrial automation, digital factory, industrial supply, and research technology.
  • Take advantage of support from the U.S. Commercial Service and SelectUSA including personalized, 1-on-1 counseling tailored to your needs.

For registration or more information, go to

Our J-1 Visa Service for Intern- and Traineeships

Germans, Austrians and Swiss who are planning on doing an internship or traineeship in the U.S. can only apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa by submitting a Certificate of Eligibility at the U.S. Consulate in his or her home country. The German American Chamber of Commerce New York is officially authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for interns and trainees. With the issuance of the DS-2019, the GACC operates as the sponsor of the Exchange Visitor during the entire stay in the U.S.

If you want to know more about our J-1 Visa Service as well as other employment-based immigration issues regarding temporary and permanent visas for foreign employees, then join us for our Executive Roundtable on Immigration Visas on Thursday, August 20! Thomas Dzimian, the responsible Officer for the GACC J-1 internship visa and an expert in his field, and Alexa Forte, Director in the Immigration Practice Group at Cohen & Grigsby, P.C., will give you latest information, guidelines and requirements.

Sign up now for the Executive Roundtable!

The German Mindset by Nevena Staresinic

We thank GACC Pittsburgh member Nevena Staresinic of Moderna Relocations for the following contribution.

The German Mindset

In the main, Germans are proud, competitive and ambitious. Society is highly structured and life is conducted according to a set of rules. Focus is on the long term, and on achieving stability. Germans enjoy a high standard of living and take their personal time seriously. Most people keep their private and work lives separate. Germans are highly educated and cultured; Germany is the best-read country in Europe and the arts play a big role in many lives. Germans are also active, enjoying outdoor life to the full, with many people practicing sport regularly.

Business Organization

Germany has few self-employed or entrepreneurs; most people in employment work for someone else. Hierarchy is very important in German business.  Decision-making in Germany can be a mystery to outsiders: in addition to the official chain of command, German companies often have a parallel ‘hidden’ experts, advisers and decision makers.

Working with a broad spectrum of Germans

Germans are focused on two objectives: product quality and product service. They have a strong desire to be the best and are highly orientated to customer satisfaction. The process of production is important, as is the end result. Order, planning, a lack of risk and technical detail are all highly valued. Expect detailed negotiations with many experts called in; a great deal of due diligence on any deal; extended decision-making; lengthy contracts; and detailed follow-up. Be prepared to work hard at building relationships. German work teams have often been described as a group of individual experts working towards a common goal.

Communication styles

German communication styles are direct, short and in general very quickly to the point. The style of communication in German workplaces is very formal; even people who have worked together for years use the polite ‘Sie’ form of address. Germans tend to be quite frank. Be sure you can back up your claims with lots of data. Small talk is not traditional. Germans tend to like people who are very clear about their expectations and getting down to business is the norm.

  The Five Essentials to Successful Collaboration

  1. Be willing to work hard. Have a capacity to lead and analyze. Have a good level of technical expertise.
  2. Be clear, honest and respectful; say what you mean and you mean what you say.
  3. Be punctual, as being even a few minutes late is considered rude.
  4. Presentations should be concise. Be prepared to answer technical questions. Highlight the features and performance of a product rather than its look.
  5. Decision-making can be slow with opinions sought from various outside experts and advisers.

American and German Comparison

Main similarities:

  • Very task oriented
  • Communication style is explicit and direct
  • Driven by deadlines, don’t waste time
  • Linear, systematic approach to problem solving
  • Rely strongly on facts for problem analysis and decision making

Main Differences:

  • Power tends to be more concentrated than shared in German companies, with a fairly rigid hierarchy; while traditional organization in American companies is believed to be flattening hierarchies
  • Germans take problem analysis and research very seriously; while Americans think that simplicity is the key

Exceptions and rules

There is an old joke that goes, “Germans love to live by rules. As long as they are German rules. Others’ rules don’t make much sense to them.” In a similar vein, this and other cross-cultural documents can’t be taken overly seriously or read through a telescope of rigidity. Cultures cross a wide spectrum. Individuals dwell within culture, including those who refuse to be bound by traditional social norms and cultural expectations. These days, many managers and executives are versed at living in the world and have adopted an international style. In this regard, Americans are wise to apply the US’ culturally typed acceptance, fairness, democracy and openness at full throttle. Be inquisitive, open, ask good questions, listen carefully, and learn about each other.

Generally speaking, general-isms are often true. When dealing with each other, we remain mindful of generational differences, the speed of social change, accelerations that bring people together more than in the past, sharing and living across cultures, a global cosmopolitanism in urban centers, and myriad ways in which converging spheres of consumerism, news, language and information may yet mask deep differences in habit, culture, and expectations. Maintaining an open, flexible, tolerant stance can be helpful in deepening understanding, and establishing trusting contacts that lead to strong relationships.

For more in-depth about German society characteristics, as Etiquette, Business Meeting Culture, Forms of Address, Making a Good Impression or Easy guide on key elements of other society mindsets, please inquire at

Moderna Relocation helps corporate transferees, newcomers and companies with Orientation, Settling-In, House/Office Finding and Cross-cultural training in the Pittsburgh region.