Upper Bavaria Feb 01, 2019

A close look at Bavaria’s regions: Upper Bavaria

Bavaria’s regions shape the state’s economy. And because no two are the same, we’re taking a closer look at them – from Upper Franconia to Swabia: what makes the Bavarian economy special? We find out. In this part of our series, we’re taking a look at Upper Bavaria, one of the strongest economic regions in Europe.

The European Union published a ranking of those regions in Europe with the highest gross domestic product at the start of 2018. Upper Bavaria ended up in a very respectable eighth place – it was only beaten by strong competition like the financial centre of London or whole small states like Luxembourg.

The fact that the belief in this location’s future is so high is down to the outstanding infrastructure on the one hand and its economic strength on the other hand: the administrative district has the city in Germany with the highest GDP per employee with Ingolstadt, where the Audi car manufacturer is based. Munich is in the Top 10 in this ranking.

Global corporations meet SMEs and digital start-ups

Global players, such as Audi, BMW, Allianz, Wacker or Munich RE who all have their head offices in Upper Bavaria, make a major contribution to this. They ensure that the promising digital industry is booming in this administrative district because they are able to connect up with digital services that are helping old industries move into a new age. But that isn’t all: in addition to the companies that originate from Bavaria, there are also numerous international major corporations with a focus on the digital sector that are opening up branches in Upper Bavaria, for example Microsoft, Google and Amazon. It’s not just the major global players who are relevant to Upper Bavaria’s positive development though. SMEs also do their bit towards this. Their involvement ranges from ground-breaking cross-industry innovations to synergy effects, particularly in the B2B sector. Companies like the Brückner Group, Dr. Johannes Heidenhain, HEINE Optotechnik, Neaspec, Trebbin and Kessel AG are just a few examples to mention here. They all provide a fertile breeding ground for new ideas.

These are already being used permanently in Upper Bavaria, as the administrative district’s flourishing and varied start-up scene proves. As a result, new companies like Arculus (Industry 4.0), Freeletics (FitTech), Konux (IoT), ProGlove (Smart Wearables), Scalable Capital (FinTech), Serva Transport Systems (Mobility) und 8Sense (eHealth) have settled or been founded in Upper Bavaria over the last few years. They are the best examples for how extensively and purposefully start-ups are supported and developed here. Among other things, with the help of several start-up centres with different backgrounds.

Digital start-up centres:


  • BRIK (Ingolstadt, cross-industry)
    BRIK in Ingolstadt describes itself as the port of call, meeting place and new home for entrepreneurs and creative professionals, digital nomads and start-ups.
  • Stellwerk18 Rosenheim, cross-industry)
    Stellwerk18 is a digital start-up centre that supports the regional economy in terms of digitalisation requirements.
  • Werk1 (Munich, cross-industry)
    Werk1 is a start-up centre in Munich that supports the development of start-ups with several services – there is special support for InsurTech start-ups.

The digital start-up centres are funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and have good contacts to policy-makers and companies in the region.

Other start-up centres:


  • IZB (Martinsried/Freising, BioTech)
    Fördergesellschaft IZB mbH is an innovation and start-up centre for biotechnology. It is among the Top 10 biotechnology centres in the world.
  • InsurTech Hub Munich (München, InsurTech)
    InsurTech Hub Munich is the platform where corporations and SMEs from various sectors meet and can work on solutions for the insurance industry’s future together.
  • ESA BIC Bavaria (Gilching, Aerospace)
    The ESA Business Incubation Centre is aimed at start-ups in the aerospace sector who want to take the next step in their development.
  • GATE (Garching, cross-industry)
    GATE currently offers more than 50 start-ups space for their ideas. Besides numerous additional services, a start-up coach supports young companies during the start-up phase.




  • BioM (Planegg, BioTech)
    BioM is the biotechnology industry’s network organisation in Bavaria. It acts on behalf of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, was recently awarded by the German government and pursues various start-up projects in the BioTech and Pharma sector.
  • Digital Hub (Munich, Mobility/InsurTech)
    International companies and start-ups from the automotive and insurance industry drive the digital transformation of products and services forward together in Munich’s Digital Hubs. The Digital Hubs are a government initiative – there are 12 hubs with different industry focuses throughout Germany.


Besides the start-up centres and cluster initiatives, the international start-up community in Upper Bavaria ensures lively exchange between start-ups, investors and established companies. Countless workshops, meet-ups and events, for example Bits & Pretzels or the FitTEch Summit initiated by Burda Media provide the perfect environment for innovative start-ups.  

Universities and university research centres:

Upper Bavaria also offers a number of institutions for training young talent. Besides the two elite universities, TU Munich and Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität (LMU), the professionals of tomorrow are educated at the following universities:

Research is conducted in many places away from the universities in Bavaria too: for example at the German Aerospace Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen – one of the largest research centres in Germany with 13 scientific institutions and roughly 1,800 employees. The various opportunities offered by the Fraunhofer Institute and the Max Planck Gesellschaft with their main offices in Munich and various institutes in and around the regional capital are also worth mentioning.

Do you want to find out more about Bavaria and its regional specifics? We present more administrative districts to you under the Regions heading.

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