The centre of Mannheim, laid out in a practical rectangular design, is as much a feature of the city as its expertise in transport + logistics, financial services, technology + innovation and chemicals + pharmaceuticals. The city also enjoys the benefits of an outstanding network between industry and research in the area of vehicle technology and the promotion of the medical biotechnology cluster by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Mannheim would appear to be fertile ground for developments in the area of transport + logistics – especially in vehicle technology. Carl Benz invented the automobile here, Karl Freiherr von Drais created the "draisine" (an early form of bicycle without pedals), Johann Schütte was a pioneer in airship construction and Julius Hatry built the world's first rocket plane. To this day, the Mannheim region is a renowned location for manufacturers of vehicles and vehicle technology. Important associations and educational institutions are represented here with the VDI (Association of German Engineers), Hochschule Mannheim University of Applied Sciences and Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg / Cooperative State University Baden-Württemberg (DHBW). In addition, Mannheim is a part of wide-ranging competence networks such as the Automotive Cluster RheinMainNeckar, which has around 450 members and is involved in the EU project "Transnational Clustering in the Automotive Sector (TCAS)". There is also the Commercial Vehicles cluster, which brings together hundreds of manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, universities and research institutes in the south of Rhineland-Palatinate and the west of Baden-Württemberg.
Financial services and insurance: With the insurers Mannheimer Versicherung, the Inter Versicherungsgruppe and the financial services company MLP, Mannheim is home to three elite members of the insurance and financial services industry. In education, the city shines with three leading business administration faculties. It also hosts one of the largest financial congresses in Europe (FONDS Professionell Kongress) and the largest financial trade fair in the German-speaking world - the Finance Symposium Schwabe Ley und Greiner.
Technology + innovation are, by tradition, strongly anchored in Mannheim. The focus today is on the IT industry. Software giant SAP and BASF's subsidiary for corporate solutions and various user groups are both based in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. With the Institute for Computer Science and Business Information Systems and corresponding degree courses at the various universities, the city has excellent foundations in research and education.
The region brings together fields of competence in chemicals + pharma and medical + healthcare. The cluster "Cell-Based & Molecular Medicine in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region" (BioRN) is particularly impressive. By 2014, the BioRN cluster is expected to bring a total of around 50 drugs, diagnostic techniques, technology platforms and services in the area of personalised medicine and cancer treatment to industrial maturity. Over 100 strong partners from business, science and politics are engaged in the cluster promoting advances in cell-based and molecular medicine. The greatest concentration of biotech companies is in the vicinity of academic research and educational establishments such as the University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg University Hospital, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Hochschule Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. In addition, 60 small and medium-sized biotech companies as well as the three major diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies Roche, Merck Serano and Abbott shape the cluster and its innovative potential.