Heidelberg is not just a beautiful city, but is also – and above all – an extremely attractive location for businesses and technology providers. As a services and science centre, it has for decades attracted those very people who really want to change things.
Heidelberg: the first port of call for research
The city’s largest employer is the renowned Heidelberg University, which boasts 31,000 students. Together with LMU Munich, it is regarded as the best university in Germany and is also ranked among the top 50 universities worldwide.
World-renowned companies such as HeidelbergCement, Henkel, SAS, Lamy, Prominent and Rockwell Collins are headquartered here – the close cooperation between science and business is the basis for Heidelberg’s outstanding reputation as a research location.
Heidelberg is one of the leading locations worldwide for the future-oriented biotechnology and organic electronics industries. As well as the university itself, there is the German Cancer Research Centre, the European Molecular Biology Laboratories (funded by 40 nations), four Max Planck Institutes and other cutting-edge research institutions. This concentration of top institutes is only matched by one other European city – Heidelberg’s partner city Cambridge.
Smart people. Good connections.
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been won by no fewer than 56 people with ties to Heidelberg. 40% of the workforce in Heidelberg are university or college graduates, compared with the national average of 16.7%.
70% of the active workforce are employed in the knowledge-intensive services sector and in industrial high technology – more than any other city in Germany.
With statistics like these, it is clearly an advantage to network with like-minded cities. Accordingly, Heidelberg cultivates numerous city partnerships, including with the renowned English university city of Cambridge and a project partnership with the world’s IT capital: Palo Alto in California.
Unrivalled quality of life
Heidelberg gives a whole new meaning to “quality living”. After Munich, the city has the highest quality of life anywhere in Germany, a fact that has been corroborated by a study conducted by German broadcaster ZDF and economic research institute prognos, indicating that 98% of people in Heidelberg feel “comfortable” or “very comfortable” there. “There is something ideal about Heidelberg” wrote Goethe – and 200 years later this is still true.
Best schools in Germany
Heidelberg already lives up to its reputation as an excellent educational centre long before higher education comes into play. When it comes to early-learning initiatives for children and adult education, Heidelberg is at the top of the table in Germany too. There are so many kindergarten places that even children from neighbouring communities are accepted. Municipal daycare facilities look after children aged over 12 months from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all parents who apply are provided with a place. And the schools in Heidelberg? They were awarded first place in the German Learning Atlas, a regional comparison undertaken by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
In Heidelberg, digitisation is more than an empty buzzword
Data is the most important raw material of our time. And Heidelberg serves as a model for developing new digital services. Together with top-class partners from the realms of science and business – such as Heidelberg University, software company SAP, partner city Palo Alto in California and Hangzhou Innovation Centre in China – the city is planning a digital strategy around the core of the new “MAsH” multiplatform that is to link various elements with one another. The city portal will be entirely digital, offering the people of Heidelberg the most important information for their respective situations. This takes the strain off administrative offices, leaving more time for consulting-intensive processes.
It pays to think ahead. Literally.
Small wonder that Heidelberg has been singled out by the federal state of Baden-Württemberg as a “digital future community” and that its projects have been provided with extensive financial support.
This was also provided for expanding the fibre-optic network with a view to securing the fastest possible internet connection. As strategic digital coordinator Nicole Huber, chief of staff to Heidelberg’s mayor, explains: “For us, this is every bit as essential as electricity and water”.
In any case, the people of Heidelberg have plenty of access to the internet: the free Wi-Fi network “Heidelberg4you” has more than 180 access points throughout the city – which, by way of comparison, is more than in Berlin. The next goal is to provide Wi-Fi throughout the entire city.
The regular series of events “Digitalität@Heidelberg” – i.e. Digitality@Heidelberg – also demonstrates the high level of interest among Heidelberg’s population in the digital future of their city. Together with the city library and the Chaos Computer Club, interesting aspects relating to digitality are discussed in depth, examining the opportunities and possibilities but also the risks associated with the digital age.