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“The Silicon Valley on the Salzach river” – Bavaria’s chemical triangle
Who would have thought that one of the state's most important location factors was hidden away in Bavaria’s picturesque landscape? Although, given the large industrial plants it contains, Bavaria's chemical triangle – also called “the Silicon Valley on the Salzach river” – is not really hidden at all. The centre of the Bavarian chemical industry lies in south-eastern Upper Bavaria. Its many multinational companies make it one the most important chemical regions in Europe.
Employing 20,000 people, the companies located there account for more than one third of all employment in Bavaria’s chemical industry. Another 5,000 jobs in the region are also closely linked to the industry, generating total annual sales of EUR 10 billion.
The companies in the area also benefit from the economic strength of others by working together. Most of the companies and the Bavarian chemical associations in the triangle have formed a joint initiative to promote the holistic development of the region. Billions of euros have already been invested into new production plants and the location infrastructure, for example. Furthermore, the Ethylene Pipeline South (EPS), which has been in operation since 2012, provides access to the north-western European ethylene network and thus to new markets. The chemical triangle thus has the potential to become the hub of a pan-European pipeline system in the long term.
Although the companies are geographically dispersed, they use an efficient transport network to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits that result from the joint location and cooperation. Altogether, approx. 6 million tonnes of goods pass through the gates of the chemical plants every year.
A rich history and a bright future
The chemical triangle can look back on more than a hundred years of history. It started with three hydroelectric plants, which are still in operation to this day. Today, the different companies located in the region cover a wide range and variety of chemicals. Production has moved away from mass-produced goods to the manufacture of special products.
Although the chemical triangle has a rich history, the companies are certainly up-to-date when it comes to future-oriented technologies. The industry is also a pioneer in terms of digitization – digital technologies and the application of real time data play an important role in controlling complex production plants, for example, which are often embedded in larger network systems. The stakeholders therefore also see themselves as a driving force behind future developments. With the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 as an essential engine for increasing productivity, companies in the chemical industry also depend on new technologies.
Producing the next generation of highly-educated staff, Bavaria also benefits the chemical triangle as a university location. In addition to that, networks such as the chemistry cluster bring companies and research institutions in the Bavarian chemical industry together and make valuable contributions to reducing the time-to-market for chemical products. The cluster was awarded the European Commission's “Cluster Management Excellence Label GOLD” for the advice it offers foreign industrial park developers and the outstanding integration of other Bavarian sector clusters.
Ilse Aigner, Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, also emphasises the significance of the entire industry: “On the one hand, the importance of the chemical industry itself is clear given its high sales and employment figures throughout the years. On the other, the wide range of products made by the chemical companies act as basic substances for other industrial sectors. The chemical industry is thus an important cornerstone of the entire industrial landscape in Bavaria.”