Since time immemorial the people in Baden-Württemberg have been known for their ingenuity and their love for research and development. But a technological leading edge alone is no longer sufficient to be able to keep up with the international competition between top business locations. The resource of the future is creativity. Its growing influence in all areas of our society requires new ways of thinking from all concerned.
It is the same at the workplace and in the business world. In these cases, the creative industry has become an increasingly important sector of the economy – in the future, successful economic centres will develop where companies can call on sophisticated services. Knowledge and creativity are crucial prerequisites for this.
Well-known, diverse, competent – creative people in Baden-Württemberg. These are precisely the conditions offered by Baden-Württemberg. Its creative sector is an important sector of the economy, in which a wide range of knowledge services are provided and have been provided for many years. Baden-Württemberg has a long tradition in the area of creativity. For example, design legends such as Otl Aicher and Anton Stankowski or typographic geniuses such as Kurt Weidemann with his visual images for the Olympic Games, IBM, Lufthansa, Porsche or the Deutsche Bank have characterized not only the German but also the international design scene.
But nowadays the creative sector is still playing at the top level. Whether it’s the design or the music sector, the software or games industry or the press and advertising market – these and other components of the creative sector are demonstrating unmistakeable growth drivers. Since 2000, annual average employment in the creative sector has increased by more than twice that of the economy as a whole.
Creative regions from all over Baden-Württemberg have contributed to this – for example, Mannheim und Karlsruhe – known for institutions such as the Popacademy Baden-Württemberg (University of popular music and music business) or the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe.
Also Pforzheim and Ulm, with their internationally accredited design schools, Baden-Baden as the location of Südwestrundfunk (Southwest Broadcasting Station) and Freiburg and Offenburg, traditionally strong printing and publishing centres, also play a crucial role.
And last but not least, Stuttgart also plays an important role. This boasts well-known architecture companies such as Behnisch or Schlaich, unusual buildings such as the Art Museum Stuttgart, the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porsche-Museum and media companies such as Reclam, Klett or Motor Presse Stuttgart.
The regional advertising and design sector is also very diverse. A current example is the German Pavilion at the Expo 2010, which has been implemented by an agency from Baden-Württemberg. This is a particular strength of Baden-Württemberg – the link between engineering competence and creative thinking. In this form it is unique in Germany.
The creative sector in Baden-Württemberg thus leads everything but a niche existence. At 3.7 per cent, employment in this sector in Baden-Württemberg is even over the national average of 3.2 per cent.
The mostly small-structured sector now employs some 155,000 people in 28,000 companies which earn a total revenue of some 19 billion euros. The software industry in particular is proving to be a real job motor. The percentage of employment in the software/games industry in Baden-Württemberg was recently put at 44 per cent, as opposed to only
33 per cent nationally.
These impressive figures prove that the local software industry has developed particularly dynamically over the last few years. In these fields Baden-Württemberg is home to global players such as Alcatel-Lucent, IBM, Hewlett Packard and SAP, while numerous medium-sized “hidden champions” ensure sound growth rates. These include such companies as Gameforge from Karlsruhe, which is one of the world’s market leaders of internet-based browser games, along with development studios such as Acony from Villingen-Schwenningen or TriCAT from Ulm, with its virtual learning and training solutions.
Future challenges: promoting talent, linking sectors, driving innovations. In order for Baden-Württemberg’s creative sector to continue to gain impetus, it is important now to select the right strategic direction, and support for creative, innovative talent is one of the most important tasks in this context. For this reason, Baden-Württemberg’s innovation agency for IT and media, the MFG Baden-Württemberg, is helping students to implement excellent interdisciplinary IT and media projects with the Karl Steinbuch Bursary. One current example is the PATRONUS project of Alexander Schwende, a student at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). With the help of this system, safe surroundings can be set up in residences of patients suffering from dementia.
As well as supporting talent over the long term, the targeted support for company start-ups is also particularly important for a creative location. From the idea to the business model – the business initiative “Baden-Württemberg: Connected” (bwcon) assists young, expanding high-tech companies and innovative start-ups with a comprehensive, network-based offer of services on this long and often stony path.
Last but not least, it is increasingly important nowadays to bring people together and link them with each other – ideally across national borders and sectoral lines.
Together with the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, the innovation agency for IT and media created a unique forum for new ideas under the motto “where Creativity meets Technology”: At the Creativity World Forum, we have linked over 2,000 creative leading minds from 29 different sectors and 28 countries and inspired them to learn from each other. The fruitful results of the exchange across national borders and sectoral lines can be seen in the “Creativity Think Tank”, for example. This interactive workshop had the task of developing 100 ideas in 100 minutes. When the 100 minutes were up, there were even 130 concrete suggestions and solutions.
Inspired by this impressive innovation potential, the creative industry in Baden-Württemberg can confidently face the challenges of the future. Further information can be found at: www.mfg-innovation.de.
The author has been managing director of MFG Baden-Württemberg – the state’s innovation agency for IT and media – since its formation in 1995. Today it is one of the leading European innovation agencies. The author has over 30 years of experience in the creative industry and the ITC sector. He is a much sought-after speaker, lecturer, author and advisor in the fields of business, society, politics and science.