The future on two wheels

Who is going to solve the puzzle of mobility for the future? And where will they be based? Might the answer come from Mühltal in Southern Hesse? Premium e-bike manufacturer Riese & Müller is deeply involved in exploring mobility options for the future. Backed in part by a Hesse innovation loan from Wirtschafts- und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WIBank), Riese & Müller has all its resources trained on the challenges of environmentally-friendly mobility, sustainable employment and future quality of life. We visited the company's new head office on the edge of the rolling wooded hills of the Odenwald district.

The bicycle business is booming in Germany – and e-bike manufacturers are leading the way. That bikes with an electric motor on board were a hugely promising technology for the future and not just an oddity for ageing enthusiasts too tired to pedal is something Riese & Müller recognised a long time ago, well before most people had even heard of particulate emissions or the idea of diesel vehicle bans. Heiko Müller and Markus Riese, who founded the company more than 25 years ago, switched over completely to e-bikes in 2012. The two, who first met while studying mechanical engineering at Technische Universität Darmstadt, have always had a hearty appetite for innovation – not, they insist, because innovation is necessarily a virtue in and of itself but because innovation provides a way to make life easier for people. Today, the question of what exactly a person needs to enjoy a perfect cycling experience is just part of the equation: issues surrounding sustainable lifestyles and mobility as a whole dominate the agenda. Even the most zealous petrolheads running the gauntlet of the morning traffic jams or searching in vain for that one last parking space must eventually find themselves wondering whether there might be a better way to cover the ground from A to B. Viewed in these terms, it is only logical that more and more people are choosing to swap four wheels for two. There are more than three million e-bikes on Germany's roads now.

Riese & Müller’s aspirations extend well beyond Germany though; in fact it has long had its sights set on the global market. "We monitor the markets and trends very closely before we invest," explains Managing Director Dr Sandra Wolf, whose remit includes corporate strategy. The company expands in a very calculated way, moving into selected cities once it judges the market to be ripe, the infrastructure appropriate and the population ready to change. Sometimes the opportunity arises to harness good ideas from companies with related business models: there is a highly successful bike sharing platform operating in Switzerland that uses top-end eCargo bikes made in South Hesse, for example.


Ecological and social responsibility is an integral compo­nent of our business strategy.

New production facilities

"We want to play our part as a corporate citizen by proactively helping to shape mobility for the future," Dr Wolf explains. The e-bike manufacturer's commitment to facilitating sustainable lifestyles extends not just to its customers, but also to its 450 or so employees. When burgeoning demand meant it was necessary to expand manufacturing capacity, making sure the new production facility lived up to employees' expectations and incorporated optimal work operations and processes was part of the brief.

Heiko Müller and Markus Riese found the finance they needed to take these steps in preparation for the future through their primary bank, which made an application to Wirtschafts- und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WIBank) under the Hesse innovation loan programme. Just one of the many carefully matched support options offered by the state development institution WIBank, this special-purpose loan provides access to capital for fast-growing companies wanting to invest for the future. Start-ups in particular would not ordinarily qualify for this type of loan because of their risk class, but the State of Hesse is especially keen to strengthen the hand of visionary entrepreneurs and enable selected companies to invest in innovative products and create jobs.

“We want to play a proactive role in helping to shape mobility for the future.”

Dr Sandra Wolf, Managing Director, Riese & Müller

Healthy growth

Riese & Müller received their loan, and the new company premises opened a short time ago. Sunlight streams into the plant through the large skylights; an enormous panoramic window in the break room allows staff to rest their eyes on the deep green shades of the wooded hills beyond. There is an in-house Corner Cafe selling sustainably produced products from the region at fair prices too, and with a number of circular footpaths heading off into the countryside right from the company's front door, there are plenty of options for anyone in need of fresh air and exercise.

Employee health is an important part of the Riese & Müller strategy, which very much favours sustainability rather than fast living. Dr Wolf offers a succinct summary: "Growth is our commercial objective, of course it is. But we don't expect it to happen overnight. We want healthy growth – sustainable growth." The new production hall has nothing in common with the facility it replaced; nothing, that is, except the complete absence of assembly lines: every bike is built by hand, right down to the very last bolt. Valued by customers the world over, this commitment to premium quality is what sets Riese & Müller apart. Quality is the constant.

A partner for the road ahead

WIBank backs customers all the way as they plot their course for a successful future. A platform with a long-term, sustainable lending policy and a wide range of development loan options and counselling services to offer, it knows how to bring the right partners together. Two other companies that understand how to make use of such opportunities and put smart ideas into practice are Karl-H. Mühlhäuser GmbH & Co. KG (Michelstadt) and Akasol AG (Darmstadt). Both have been able to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the development of new technologies thanks to finance from the Hesse innovation loan programme and both have done so with considerable success: their electric and hybrid drives are already being used in tunnel construction and in environmentally-friendly buses. These innovations are the brain child of people who have the courage to realise their ideas and create companies to put their vision into practice. People like these are who make Hesse the economic powerhouse it is.

“The strength of demand demonstrates just how well the product meets the requirements of our entrepreneurs. Providing this support is our way of helping to ensure innovative companies continue to see their future in the state of Hesse.”

Gottfried Milde, Spokesman for the Management Board of WIBank

The Hesse innovation loan

The Hesse innovation loan programme is made possible by the InnovFin SME Guarantee financing solution provided through the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). EFSI was created under the Investment Plan for Europe to promote the financing and implementation of productive investment in the European Union and to ensure enhanced access to finance.

The finance is provided by WIBank using funding from sources including the low-interest options offered by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The State of Hesse supports the programme through a risk-sharing framework with WIBank.

Further selected projects

We, the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale (Helaba), use cookies that are absolutely necessary to provide you with our website. No additional cookies will be set for the duration of your visit to this website if you close the banner by clicking on "Decline". If you give your consent, we will use additional cookies to process information about your use of our website for the purposes of statistics (such as measuring reach) and marketing (such as displaying personalized content).

Your consent is voluntary and not necessary for the use of the website. By clicking on "Settings", you can individually determine in detail which cookies we may use based on your consent.

You can also consent to all additional cookies at the same time by clicking on "Accept".

You can revoke your consent at any time via the "shield icon" in the toolbar on each page or change your cookie settings there.


When you visit our website, Helaba makes use of required and optional cookies. Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer and saved by your browser. Their purpose is to make our range of services more user-friendly, for example so that you do not have to re-confirm an automatically generated disclaimer more than once. Cookies that we use are so-called “session cookies” because they are automatically reset at the end of your visit to our website.

Further information on the use of cookies on helaba.com can be found at Data protection.

cookie [publisher]purposestorage period / Follow-up processingthird country transfer
disclaimer_disclosureRequirements [helaba]necessary: Verification when accessing certain (sub) areas of the websitesessionno
disclaimer_residenceGermany [helaba]necessary: Verification when accessing certain (sub) areas of the websitesessionno
hideCookieNotice [helaba]necessary: Saves that the cookie or data protection notice will not be requested every time you visit.30 daysno
WSESSIONID [helaba]necessary: Standard cookie to use with PHP session data.sessionno

The sole purpose of using analytical services on our website is to optimise the online information we provide. Data collected in this way, such as IP address, date or time of the request, contents of the page accessed or the browser used do not enable any users to be directly identified. Analysis by Helaba of a user’s data is not intended to identify any individuals or conduct any profiling, in order to, for instance, send online advertising to visitors of our website.

You  find more information on statistics cookies here: Data protection

cookie [publisher]purposestorage period / Follow-up processingthird country transfer
_et_coid [etracker]statistic: cookie detection2 years / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
allowLoadExternRessources [helaba]statistic: Saves the user decision that external components may be loaded automatically.30 days / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
allowTracking [helaba]statistic: Saves the user decision that visitor behavior may be tracked.30 days / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
BT_ctst [etracker]statistic: Is used to detect whether cookies are activated in the visitor's browser or not.session / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
BT_pdc [etracker]statistic: Contains Base64-coded visitor history data (is customer, newsletter recipient, visitor ID, displayed smart messages) for personalization.2 years / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
BT_sdc [etracker]statistic: Contains Base64-encoded data of the current visitor session (referrer, number of pages, number of seconds since the beginning of the session), which is used for personalization purposes.session / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
isSdEnabled [etracker]statistic: Detection of whether the visitor's scroll depth is measured.1 hour / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno

On our website, we use a so-called re-targeting technology provided by The UK Trade Desk Ltd., 10th Floor, 1 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7BL, United Kingdom. With this technology, cookies (so-called third-party cookies) are stored on your hard drive when you visit our website. These cookies are either permanent or temporary cookies that are automatically deleted after a certain period of time has elapsed.

You find more information on marketing cookies here: Data protection

cookie [publisher]purposestorage period / Follow-up processingthird country transfer
EDAAT [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Stores a temporary security token for EDAA sign-out pages such as http://www. youronlinechoices. com/1 hour / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
TDCPM [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Matching IDs to avoid redundant calls.365 days / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes/ United Kingdom
TDID [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: recognition of web profiles over time on different websites.365 days / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
TTDOptOut [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Stores the decision to opt out of re-targeting.5 years / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
TTDOptOutOfDataSale [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Stores the decision against selling data to third parties.5 years / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
No choice made so far
Partial selection made
Agreed to all cookies