The region of Rhine-Neckar, a metropolitan region running along the Rhine and Neckar rivers, is a planningregion around the tri-state border between Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hessia. Some 2.4million people live in this relatively small area, which measures around 5,600 square kilometers. This makes itthe second most densely populated metropolitan region in Germany, and this density is rising. The area includesthe cities of Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg, the surrounding area, the rural district of Neckar-Odenwald and the southern Palatinate region of Südpfalz. The area has everything to offer for a lifestyle fullof variety and fulfillment, whether it’s the arts and cultural events, leisure activities, housing or medical care.
This important economic location is home to a variety of international corporations, small and medium-sizedenterprises, and business startups. Among the leading names here are companies like BASF, Roche Germany,SAP, the printing machine maker Heidelberg, Fuchs Petrolub, Freudenberg, Bilfinger & Berger, and HeidelbergCement. Among those not named in the region are companies that have made history in their industry withgroundbreaking inventions. Others still are global leaders in their industry.
The mixture of industries represented in the area fuels a hotbed of innovation potential. To exploit this potential,many regional alliances and business clusters have been formed, acting as a springboard of collaboration forcompanies, regional universities of applied sciences, research institutions and hospitals. I would like to namea typical example of this: The BioRN Leading Edge Cluster, which involves over 100 powerful and inventivepartners both from trade and industry, and science and academia, all successfully collaborating on cell-basedand molecular medicine. The alliance includes some 60 small and medium-sized biotechnology firms.
Many of the people working at these companies hail from scientific institutions in the region. Aside from theoldest university in Germany, the world-class University of Heidelberg, there are about 21 other establishmentsof further education in the area, with 90,000 enrolled students. The universities of applied sciences andthe Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) also make a significant contribution to academictraining in the area, especially in the field of engineering. There is also Germany’s only Pop Academy, which isa center of excellence in musicology based in Mannheim. Then there are the College of Jewish Studies inHeidelberg, conveying the multifaceted nature of Judaism, the German University of Administrative Sciencesin Speyer (DHV) and the outstanding Department of Applied Linguistics and Cultural Sciences at the Universityof Mainz.
These establishments are complemented by a host of Steinbeis Enterprises in the metropolitan region, offeringa variety of scientific services and know-how. It is a fast-paced region, and as early as 1969 one of Baden-Württemberg’s first five technical consulting services was established at the former state engineering collegein Mannheim with the aim of making scientific insights available to companies in the region. These technicaladvisory centers were subsequently integrated into the Steinbeis Foundation. Nowadays, the many transferprojects carried out by Steinbeis Enterprises in the region are particularly useful to SMEs, a helping hand inanswering their know-how and technology requirements.
I hope you enjoy reading this latest edition of Steinbeis Transfer magazine and that it whets your appetite forthe metropolitan region of Rhine-Neckar!
Prof. Dr. Heinz Trasch was Chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation Board from 2004 until 2012. He is now Director of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Science, Technology & Economy in Ludwigshafen. The center is one of over 50 Steinbeis Enterprises in the Rhine-Neckar region.