While the Free State of Bavaria, located in southern Germany, is the largest federal state in Germany, it does also contribute significantly to Germany’s image around the world. The world is fascinated by the combination of experienced tradition and economic strength based on technological expertise. The fact that this is not just a PR campaign is underscored by hard facts as presented by our author, State Minister Ilse Aigner.
As a business location, Bavaria has great charisma in southern Germany and in central Europe. In cooperation with well-known scientists, outstandingly-trained and motivated employees and dedicated entrepreneurs earn above-average prosperity in our state. With over 20 per cent real growth over the last ten years, the Free State of Bavaria is Germany’s unrivalled leader in economic growth. New export records with major trading partners, including in times of economic downturn, are impressive evidence of the Bavarian economy’s ability to compete internationally. More than every second euro earned by Bavaria’s economy is earned abroad.
Nowhere else are job market perspectives as positive as in Bavaria: an unemployment rate of only 3.8 per cent around the state means that in many regions full employment has been de facto achieved. In fact, many sectors are already lamenting over shortage of skilled professionals, which is likely to increase over the coming years due to demographic changes. This is why the Bavarian state government is focusing on a comprehensive mobilisation of the potential offered by the existing workforce – through the right balance between work and family, targeted further education measures and the integration of immigrants. We also want to make even better use of the expertise provided by older workers, which is why we are fighting for fair, flexible pension schemes which would make it more attractive to work beyond the statutory retirement age of one’s own accord.
Traditional craft enterprises, lively medium-sized companies and successful major companies ideally complement each other in Bavaria. Tremendous importance is placed on networking across all levels of the value-added chain – from the supplier to the service provider, from research to marketable products. Our proven cluster policy is a characteristic of the Bavarian economic policy. Scientific studies show that the companies participating in all important future-oriented sectors within our clusters benefit from a significantly higher level of productivity, innovation dynamics and growth. Innovation and hightech were and still are Bavaria’s strengths. Nearly every third patent in Germany originated from a Bavarian company.
A recent study conducted on behalf of the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) also highlights the positive innovation environment as one of Bavaria’s major strengths. The study, which compared 45 countries around the world, attests that the Free State of Bavaria achieves an excellent second place when it comes to quality of the industrial location. Thus it pays off that we in Bavaria have always placed considerable emphasis on a strong industrial core and have campaigned for the interests of our industry in Berlin and Brussels.
Particularly as a high-tech location we know: whoever stops, falls behind. The current focus of our innovation policy is therefore the comprehensive and profound digitalisation of our economy, which we are consistently implementing under the motto “Digital Bavaria”. We are also promoting the targeted expansion of our non-university research institutions, we are strengthening the technology transfer and are developing the Bavarian university landscape in the respective regions. The regions are what makes Bavaria strong. According to the 2014 regional ranking by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, seven of the top ten regions in Germany are located in Bavaria. We are therefore continuing our successful regional promotion in order to mobilise investments throughout the state and create local jobs. The current Northern Bavaria Initiative by the Bavarian state government alone has a volume of almost 600 million euros for science and economy up until 2018. We want Bavaria to remain attractive to investors and entrepreneurs and this is why we have created the “Gründerland Bayern” initiative, which focuses on financing, internationalisation and networking.
Among other things, we want to use our new growth fund and cooperation with venture capital investors to give start-up enterprises in Bavaria a leg up. Here, we play a greater role than the German federal government. We now need greater momentum from Berlin. This not only applies to tax-related assistance for venture capital, but also for other tax-related impetus such as improved write-off conditions, inheritance taxation which benefits medium-sized companies and, lastly, incentives for energy-related building refurbishment.
However, Bavaria is not just an economically strong part of Germany, it is also a part of the country worth living in. The state not only offers excellent job and income prospects, it also offers much to discover in culture and landscape. Bavaria, the number one tourism destination in Germany, welcomed over 31 million visitors from around the world last year. We will use these achievements to advance further.
The author, born in Feldkirchen-Westerham in 1964, is a radio and television technician as well as a certified electrical engineer. From 1998 to 2003, she was a member of the German parliament and was a federal minister in the cabinet of Angela Merkel from 2008 to 2013. She has been Deputy Minister President of Bavaria and Bavarian State Minister of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology since 2013.