In addition to the strong economy and excellent infrastructure, one of the key factors for the region is the excellent educational landscape. Heidelberg University was founded in 1386, making it Germany's oldest university. Today, Heidelberg has about 29,000 students and is ranked as one of nine elite universities in Germany by the federal government. Altogether about 89,000 students are enrolled at 22 institutes of higher learning in the region. National and international rankings regularly bear testimony to the region's academic excellence in the fields of the life sciences, natural sciences, humanities, economics and social sciences.
This vibrant academic environment has, in turn, created a strong scientific network. Nearly twice as many people are employed in the field of research and development in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region than in the rest of Germany.
The region is home to more than 40 non-university research establishments, many of which are widely recognized both nationally and internationally. These include the Institute for the German Language in Mannheim, the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, the German Research Institute of Public Administration in Speyer and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. The Max Planck Society has four institutes in Heidelberg. And within the Helmholtz Community, the German Cancer Research Centre is one of the leading facilities of its kind world-wide. Considering this high level of academic research, it is no wonder than 15 Nobel Prize laureates have close ties to the region.