Science and research play a decisive role in Germany. They are both key factors in international competition and form a central component of the welfare and prosperity of our society. Rhineland-Palatinate is well-positioned as a state with a wide-ranging and dynamic science and research landscape. Renowned international companies are located here, alongside many medium-sized companies and innovative start-ups. In addition, Rhineland-Palatinate has a number of universities and research institutes with excellent facilities and a broad range of subject areas. For example, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz – one of Germany’s ten largest universities – is the only university in Germany that brings together almost all of its institutes in a campus close to the city centre. This provides students with excellent options in research and teaching. Even beyond university studies, young people have good prospects in Rhineland-Palatinate. There is demand for well-educated specialists in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in particular. Thanks to its mixture of universities and industrial research centres, Rhineland-Palatinate is a leading location for these innovative sectors.
The chemical and pharmaceutical industries can look back on more than one hundred years of history in our region. These are also the most important industrial sectors in Rhineland-Palatinate in terms of revenue and employment: they generate around 30 per cent of the revenue in the state and some 20 per cent of all employees earn their money through them.
Rhineland-Palatinate boasts two global players in this sector, with Boehringer Ingelheim in Ingelheim and BASF in Ludwigshafen. Both companies offer a broad portfolio of innovative products. Plastics and chemicals from BASF are in international demand, while medication from Boehringer Ingelheim, such as for the treatment of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, are standard in therapy worldwide. Furthermore, the family-owned company Boehringer Ingelheim, which is among the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies, has successfully expanded its research activities in thromboembolic diseases, cardiometabolic diseases and cancer. Over 42,000 staff on all continents are working on research, development, production and marketing for new medications with high therapeutic value for human and animal health, true to the company vision: “Value through Innovation”. But it is not just the large reference companies that embody the spirit of research and innovation in Rhineland-Palatinate.
A number of small and medium-sized companies contribute to achieving the pharmaceutical and chemical industries’ export rate of over 62 per cent with 55,000 staff. Young, innovative companies are setting up in the Mainz area in particular, taking advantage of the scientific environment and the local infrastructure of technology centres. It is no coincidence that Mainz was named “City of Science” last year. The city’s dedication and the contributions from specific scientific and economic projects to city development were decisive to the award of this title. Twelve months filled with events and “a passion for science” have since passed. Boehringer Ingelheim made an active contribution with ten further education presentations. The diverse range of presentations spanned topics on research for human and animal health to the embodiment of company values in its corporate culture. Sciencerelated communication continues in Mainz, even after the year of science 2011: The “Naturhistorisches Museum Mainz” (Museum of Natural History), one of the city’s museums closely involved in research, has joined forces with Boehringer Ingelheim for an exhibition on “How a medicine is created”.
Mainz is a leading and well-liked university city beyond Rhineland-Palatinate’s borders, too. The figures are proof enough of this: around 40,000 students are enrolled at the three main universities, which cover almost all academic subject areas – Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz University of Applied Sciences and Mainz Catholic University of Applied Sciences.
Furthermore, two Max Planck Institutes are located in Mainz: the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research are both situated at the Johannes Gutenberg University campus. With their diverse range of research areas, the institutes complement the work of the universities and other research institutes. In addition to the close cooperation with the Max-Planck Society, a close collaboration has also been established with the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations in recent years.
The natural sciences in Mainz also rank among the top in international research rankings. The Academic Ranking of World Universities 2011 counts the Institute for Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University among the top 75 worldwide. The Institute for Molecular Biology (IMB) at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz is a prime example of the dedication of the industry to fundamental university research in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is funding the establishment and operation of this international centre of excellence with a total of 100 million euros for a duration of ten years. Rhineland-Palatinate is therefore receiving one of the largest private donations that has ever been given to a scientific institution at a university. This basic funding ensures that the researchers at the institute have access to state-of-the-art technologies and can work on major projects in the long term. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate has also contributed to funding the establishment of this centre of excellence by having a new building constructed, which will offer renowned scientists an excellent working environment. As a result, the newly founded institute fulfils international standards for cutting-edge research – another gain for the science sector in Rhineland-Palatinate.
The author studied chemistry and completed a PhD in macromolecular chemistry in Mainz. He has been working at Boehringer Ingelheim for 28 years. Dr. Günster was a country manager in Canada and responsible for the prescription medicines business in Europe and the AAA region (Asia, Africa, Australia). He has been country manager of Boehringer Ingelheim in Germany since April 2009.