According to a statement by the Cologne-based Institute for the German Economy „South Germany is the innovation leader«. There was no other place in Germany where there were as many patents pending on a per capita basis as in Baden Wurttemburg and Bavaria. But not only was the North of Germany lagging behind. In particular in East Germany there was still quite a long way to go with the only exception of Dresden where a relatively high number of scientists work.
The economic future of Germany strongly depends on its innovative power. However, not all German regions are equally involved in the process of building this foundation of future German wealth which is innovation. Scientific research is rather concentrated on a few big cities where innovative companies co-operate with universities and institutions such as the Max-Planck or Fraunhofer associations. Furthermore, most important German think tanks are located in the South of Germany.
In the area of Greater Stuttgart about 60.300 employees worked in the field of research and development (R&D) in the year 2003 which represented 5.7% of all the people employed in the capital of Baden Wurttemberg and its surroundings. The same figure for Munich was 56.000 staff who accounted for 6.3% of all people employed in this region.
The two innovative conurbations of Stuttgart and Munich differ, however, quite a lot: In the Bavarian capital, besides the electronics combine Siemens, operate many small hightech companies from e.g. the field of biotechnology. For this reason Munich is said to be the leading high technology region in Germany. Greater Stuttgart, however, with its numerous automobile and mechanical engineering enterprises is the centre of middle technology which invests a smaller part of its turnover into research and development than the high-tech industry.
The number of patent applications in both regions indicates that the research done also pays off economically. In this respect the position of South Germany is even more excelling with regard to the rest of Germany than is suggested by the statistics on employees in research and development. Companies, universities, institutes and freelance inventors from Baden Wurttemberg applied for 120 patents per each 100.000 inhabitants last year. This inventive talent the regions mainly owes to its automobile and mechanical engineering industry, to its strongholds of Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg and Heidenheim. These three cities reported almost 200 patents per 100.000 inhabitants in 2005.
Bavarians are similarly inventive as the Swabians and registered 110 inventions per each 100.000 inhabitants in 2005. The front runner is the city of Erlangen where Siemens erected a R&D headquarters. From this city in the year 2006 came 260 patents per each 100.000 inhabitants. With this not even the high-tech city of Munich is able to keep up: in the Bavarian capital as well as in Starnberg and Regensburg the number of patents amounted to 200 per each 100.000 inhabitants.
More detailed information can be gathered from the newsletter of the institute, edition 28 (starting from page 6). This document is also available in PDF format and can be downloaded.