A broad range of industries are represented in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, including automotive, biotechnology and life sciences, chemistry, energy and environmental sciences, IT, the cultural and creative services, mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, as well as organic electronics. With a total workforce of about 815,000 people employed at more than 135,000 companies, the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region generated a gross value added of 67.2 billion euros (2008). Here is a breakdown of the major industrial branches in the region.
Chemicals:The chemical industry has deep roots in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region. About 40,000 people are employed directly by chemical companies, and many more in the pre- and post-processing industry. The largest company in this sector is BASF, which was founded in 1865 in Mannheim and is now the world's largest chemical company. Its headquarters are across the Rhine River in Ludwigshafen. The production complex in Ludwigshafen covers an area of 10 square kilometers and is the largest industrial complex in Europe. With about 33,000 employees in Ludwigshafen, BASF is the region's largest employer. Other leading chemical companies include BK Giulini (Ludwigshafen, Woellner (silicates and special chemicals, Ludwigshafen), Raschig (Ludwigshafen) and Rhein Chemie Rheinau (Mannheim).
Automotive: The region has a long tradition with the automotive sector, beginning in 1886 when Karl Benz patented the world's first motorized car from his workshop in Mannheim. The companies represented here include Opel, MAN, Lear, Siemens and Pirelli. More than 23,000 people are directly employed in automotive manufacturing or the automotive supply sector. In terms of commercial vehicles, a number of leading manufacturers are also represented in the region, including Daimler, John Deere, euro engineering, Grammer and Kirchhoff Holding.
Information Technology: The IT sector in the region is dominated by SAP, the world leader in enterprise software and software-related services, which is headquartered in Walldorf. SAP has 65,000 employees in 130 countries, and is ranked as the world's third largest independent software manufacturer based on market capitalization. The region is also home to number of a mid-sized IT companies and innovative start-ups.
Life Sciences: As part of the Biotech Cluster Rhine-Neckar (BioRN), about 80 biotech companies develop drugs, technology platforms and diagnostics. Both global healthcare companies and international research institutes play a significant part in this cluster. With its focus on personalized medicine and cancer research, the BioRN cluster has assumed a leading role in Germany. In 2008, for example, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) awarded BioRN 40 million euros to fund "cell-based and molecular medicine in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region".
Altogether, more than 100 partners from business, science and politics are involved in this cluster. The region has a high concentration of academic and research institutions, including the University of Heidelberg, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Mannheim University. Major pharmaceutical companies are based in the region - Roche, Merck Serono, Abbott and AbbVie - as well as more than 60 small and medium-sized biotechnology companies.