The economic region of Munich is the undisputed German champion as a technology centre, and it is one of the five leading high-tech regions worldwide. This is why many innovative business founders chose to establish their firms in the Bavarian state capital.
The economic strength of Munich is mainly based on a sound mixture of global players, medium-sized businesses, large companies and one-man operations in highly efficient and fast-growing industries such as electrotechnology, vehicle and mechanical engineering, the services and IT sector as well as nano- and biotechnology with their unique cluster in Martinsried. The backbone of the economy in Munich, and indeed in the whole of Bavaria, is the metal and electrical industry, with a particular focus on the powerful automotive industry and its suppliers. Approximately 300 companies in the greater area of Munich provide jobs for 160,000 people in this industry, generating some 70 billion euros in turnover annually.
Ten universities and other academic institutes, numerous colleges of cooperative education and vocational schools and various private training and further education institutions generate knowledge and continually produce highly qualified workforce for the local labour market. Renowned organizations, such as the Max Planck and Fraunhofer Societies, the German Aerospace Center, the German Research Center for Environmental Health or the Ifo Institute complement the research network. It is due to this positive environment that a large number of globally active companies have decided to locate in Munich and carry out research and development work here, for instance the BMW Research and Innovation Center (FIZ), which deals with questions of vehicle construction, cooperative traffic management or navigation systems, or Siemens, whose research activities are also concentrated in the state capital.
In the Munich region, some 50,000 people are active in R&D – research and development. In addition, almost one third of the 80,000 students in Munich are enrolled in science or engineering disciplines. The European and the German Patent Offices, which are also based in Munich, support the transformation of knowledge into products and services.
This close cooperation between companies and scientific institutions is one of the city’s decisive advantages.
It is obvious: Only if research and teaching are tailored to meet companies’ needs can competitive advantages be achieved and employment be created. Munich has managed this task with excellence.
The Bavarian Business Association, vbw, and the employers’ associations of the Bavarian metalworking industry, BayME and VBM, vigorously support the transfer of know-how from science to businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses. In order to promote the competitiveness of SMEs, the Employers Association of Bavarian Electrical and Metalworking Industries, VBM, and the Munich university of technology, TUM, have founded the centre of competence “Kompetenzzentrum Mittelstand GmbH”. This institute acts as a hinge between research and the 1,700 member companies of the employers’ associations of the Bavarian metalworking industry. 12.5 million euros will be invested in the first five years to strengthen the innovative power of small and medium-sized metalworking and electrical firms in the fields of technology and business administration.
This combined effort of business and science is backed up by the excellent infrastructure of Munich, with access to motorways leading in all directions, comprehensive rail connections and the airport at Erdinger Moos, which, being the number-two German commercial airport, is increasingly developing into a competitor to the first-placed Frankfurt/Main airport. Not to forget the many varied opportunities to obtain capital and services from local providers.
The very high spending power of the citizens of Munich, amounting to 27,000 euros per capita, easily secures the Bavarian state capital its top ranking position in the list of the most wealthy German cities. According to a study carried out by the New Social Market Economy Initiative (INSM), Munich is the economically most successful city in Germany.
It is the primary goal of vbw and the employers’ associations of the Bavarian metalworking industry to make sure this remains as it is. To achieve this, it is important to preserve and improve the competitiveness of Bavarian – including Munich-based – companies.
We promote the development of Munich by acting as trendsetters who identify and address topics and possible risks to the competitiveness of the companies early on.
With regard to education, for example, we issued the study “Bildung neu denken!” (rethinking education) to raise awareness and urgently demand an educational “revolution” from politicians to make sure that in the greater area of Munich excellently qualified workforce will continue to be available to companies and young people in our country will have good prospects for the future. Already in 2000, the “balancing of family and work life” was identified and added to our list as a priority issue of the future, which is increasingly gaining in importance in view of the very heterogeneous family structures in Munich on the one hand, and a serious shortage of specialized labour in some industries or occupational areas on the other.
The importance Munich has for our association also manifests itself in the fact that a substantial part of our political lobbying work takes place in Munich, even though it is complemented by relevant activities we perform in Berlin and Brussels. For example, the know-how present in our expert committees contributes a considerable amount of economic expertise to state, federal and European legislation, which in turn means that the course is set for Munich to be able to fully unfold its economic potential. In essence, our services consist of a wide variety of networking opportunities.
The vbw headquarters, the “hbw | Haus der Bayerischen Wirtschaft” (house of Bavarian business), constitutes an ideal platform for exchanging information between companies, scientists and political decision makers. These networks help to further improve the framework conditions for our Munich-based firms and facilitate access to government and administrative authorities.
The author, born in Neustadt/Weinstraße in 1960, studied law at the Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich. He is the CEO of Bavarian Business Association (vbw), the Employers Association of Bavarian Electrical and Metalworking Industries (VBM) and the Bavarian Business Association of Electrical and Metalworking Enterprises (BayME). He is also a member of the administrative council of the Federal Employment Agency.