What makes Central Hessen so special? With its five counties (Gießen, Lahn-Dill, Limburg-Weilburg, Marburg-Biedenkopf and Vogelsberg), Central Hessen may be the smallest administrative district in Hessen in terms of surface area and population, but it is also the administrative district with the second-highest concentration of students in Germany. Of its university towns, Central Hessen leads by a nose, with Gießen having the highest concentration of students of all German university towns (44 per cent).
The heavy student influence in Central Hessen (28 per cent) is also apparent when compared with the administrative districts within the entire state as the percentage of students is considerably higher than its percentage of the population as a whole at 17 per cent. Evidence that these large numbers also represent high quality can be seen in official recognition in the form of the German government’s Excellence Initiative. The Justus Liebig University is home to two of the six excellent research focal points in Hessen in the form of the Cardio-Pulmonary System excellence cluster and the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture. The Central Hessen research region is also further reinforced by the LOEWE Centre for Hyper-Proliferative Illnesses of the Lungs and Air Passages.
Central Hessen’s R&D potential is apparent at Philipps University of Marburg, for example, which boasts eleven Leibniz Prize winners and operates one of Europe’s three BSL-4 high-security laboratories for virological research.
Our three Central Hessian tertiary educational institutions – Philipps University of Marburg, Justus Liebig University of Gießen and the Gießen-Friedberg Institute of Technology – enjoy an excellent reputation. All three institutions have a tradition of innovation and a company start-up spirit. Innovative products have been made in Central Hessen for over 150 years such as the well-known sera against diphtheria and tetanus or the famous Leica camera. Names of well-known scientists such as Behring, Liebig or Röntgen are inseparably linked with Central Hessen. The fact that innovation and tradition are not mutually exclusive can be seen in the well-known companies in the region such as Buderus, the Schunk Group, Leica Camera AG, Leica Microsystems GmbH, the Friedhelm Loh Group, CSL Behring and Novartis Behring. Education and research thus form a basis for the region’s commercial success.
Institutions like TransMIT Gesellschaft für Technologietransfer mbH, the Timm Competence Network and the Central Hessen Entrepreneurship Cluster (ECM) support the links between the local economy and local tertiary educational institutions and ensure that scientific research results are converted into commercially applicable know-how. For example, TransMIT GmbH alone has opened over 100 centres in recent years, paving the way for many start-ups towards a successful business. In cases such as these, TransMIT GmbH regards itself as a central interface between tertiary education and business. Businessmen looking for an innovative solution to their problems or scientists wanting to market ideas or form a company are at the right address at TransMIT GmbH. The recently-formed Central Hessian Entrepreneurship Cluster also pursues a similar approach. Its objective is to reinforce and systematically initiate company start-ups from Central Hessen’s institutes of tertiary education and to stimulate entrepreneurial spirit in the students. Timm, by contrast, offers an ideal platform for cooperative programmes and knowledge transfer especially for the medical sector in Central Hessen. The objective is to simplify innovative processes and convert the results of research into marketable applications quickly.
An excellent example of how knowledge acquired here benefits local companies is the “StudiumPlus” course at the Gießen-Friedberg Institute of Technology. “StudiumPlus” is a dual course in which the students enrol at the Institute and simultaneously have a job contract with a local company.
Efforts are also made through the targeted formation of clusters to gain advantages of size and group and to combine strengths. For example, companies in Central Hessen active in drive, measuring and control technology, optics and photonics each have a broad network of manufacturers, which makes the region a real focal point of competence in one of the business fields of concentrated innovation. The optics cluster in the Gießen area and the Lahn-Dill county is thus one of the top ten in the optics sector.
In order for ideas to actually be implemented in the market, the conditions must also be right. Precisely this is the case in Central Hessen. Its central position in Germany connects the region very well with all major urban centres in Europe and international markets. The investor-friendly climate here with short administrative processes and comparatively low location costs makes Central Hessen particularly attractive for start-ups and investors. In this context the Regionalmanagement-Verein MitteHessen e.V. functions as a cohesive combination of business, science and government, which supports competent companies at their formation stage.
Approval processes which are as short as possible are also an important location factor offered by the Central Hessian region.
The Gießen administrative district has therefore set itself the objective of finalizing approval processes flexibly and in considerably less time than usual. For example, in 2007 a manufacturing company could obtain approval after only an average of 2.27 months, which enabled it to react quickly to the demands of the market. As an additional service, the administrative district offers comprehensive consulting services, starting with questions on forming companies through the search for approval options for certain projects to possible EU subsidies. Innovation-friendly policies and flexible public authorities round off the region’s general concept.
Overall, it can be said that academics, scientists, students, businessmen and investors are in the right place here in Central Hessen.