In contrast, for example, to Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Hessen is not strongly associated with industry and does not host the headquarters of major companies, with a few exceptions such as Fresenius, Merck, Adam Opel, Kion, K+S, Heraeus and Schunk. However, Hessen is strong in some sectors and branches of industry, which employ significant numbers of workers:
The metals and electronics industry (from machine manufacturing to automotive, electronics, and optics) employs 210,000 people. Around 115,000 work in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, including related businesses, and around 80,000 work in the information and communications industry. Beyond that, Hessen has wide-ranging competencies in the service sector, and an above-average proportion of service-related business.
This is due mainly to two factors that contribute to its stability: the banking centre with approximately 70,000 workers and the mobility and logistics sector with just under 80,000 workers at Germany’s largest place of employment alone – Frankfurt Airport.
These sectors, however, cannot simply be lumped together as services. Rather, value is largely created as a specific result of collaboration and the integration of these competencies to form a comprehensive package. Industrial products require not only logistical distribution – almost always throughout the entire world – but often also financing and, increasingly, integrated software in order to derive ‘learning’ products.
Above all, it will be the intelligent integration and networking of these competencies that offer Hessen the chance to become a leading location for new and highly modernizing industry, which
- succeeds in integrating industrial production and closely linked services through exemplary networking,
- promotes the integration of industry and software through such networking, i.e. Industry 4.0,
- develops, in a particularly networked and innovative manner, solutions addressing the global megatrends of resource scarcity and climate change, health and nutrition, communication within an information society, and demographic change,
- contributes to the solution of the megatrend of urbanisation by bringing together the industrial needs of growing cities with an industry that supplies infrastructure and exports globally, and
- creates people-friendly and sustainable solutions as a result.
What kind of integration would be indicative of a ‘new industry’ in Hessen, for example?
- Integrating a health care industry with industrial standardization and quality customized health solutions – which also contributes to a reduction in costs for the health sector financed by social insurance.
- Integrating industry with the energy revolution by funding research for new storage technologies, such as the strengthened commitment to research in the area of fuel cells (link to the PPP research agreement with the EU).
This list is neither complete nor is it easy to predict the outcomes. Not all of the plans for these projections will come to fruition. However, if Hessen is looking for realistic opportunities, they are predominantly to be found in the realm of these new fields of activity.
Hessen will also need a common will from the political, business and social sectors in order to focus and further develop infrastructure and an approach to subsidization. And a shared commitment by stakeholders is needed, to set goals and to promote their realisation.
The first step in this direction is for the community to come together to develop a concept for Hessen as a place of industry. This concept should be both:
- a commitment to strong and modern industry in Hessen and
- a guiding principle for the additional optimization of the industrial location.