Mechanical and plant engineering is the core of the German capital goods industry and is also one of the most important branches of industry in Bavaria. As a supplier of complex products for all sectors of the economy and a recipient of technologically sophisticated pre-deliveries, it is at the centre of industrial performance. Bavaria’s mechanical engineering sector, with its focus on drive technology, general ventilation technology, power systems (engines and turbines) as well as pumps and compressors, is mainly concentrated in the administrative districts of Swabia, Lower Franconia and Upper Bavaria. The area of digitisation/industry 4.0 has meanwhile taken on a crucial role in mechanical engineering and will continue to strongly shape the industry. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning offers many new opportunities, which will further advance mechanical engineering with considerable growth potential.
A special feature of the Bavarian mechanical engineering industry is the great variety of sectors, almost all sub sectors can be found here. In addition, mechanical engineering is characterised by its SME owner-managed structure. With over 236,800 employees (approx. 18% employment volume of all Bavarian industrial jobs), mechanical engineering is still the largest industrial sector in terms of employment. In 2019, the 921 Bavarian mechanical engineering companies generated a total turnover of approximately EUR 54.4 billion. This means that almost a quarter of the total German industry turnover was generated in Bavaria. With more than 14 percent of the total Bavarian industrial turnover, the industry is the second strongest branch of industry in Bavaria. Due to its strong international competitive position, mechanical engineering is a very export-oriented industry. 65.3% of Bavarian industry sales in 2019 were generated abroad.
Mechanical engineering, which is steeped in tradition, is one of the most popular study programmes in Germany among men with roughly 10% of all students. In Bavaria, an increasing number of women (around 3%) have recently expressed enthusiasm for a career in mechanical engineering. The attractiveness of these courses of study is reflected in the steadily increasing number of first-year students in recent years. In the field of mechanical/process engineering, the number of students enrolled in the 2019/20 winter semester increased again by +0.6% compared to the academic year 2018, with 5,769 initial registrations.
Thanks to the solid specialist education at Bavarian universities, the art of engineering enjoys worldwide recognition and offers excellent career prospects in this country. The range of applications in this sector is huge and not only includes the manufacture of all kinds of machines but also the design and production processes in the automotive and rail vehicle industry, and for ship lifts and aircraft.
According to the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), the total R&D expenditure of the economy as a whole in 2019 amounted to EUR 73 billion, with the mechanical engineering sector being one of the strongest research sectors in Germany with a share of 10%.
The proportion of scientists and engineers in mechanical engineering companies is currently over 50% of all full-time equivalents.
The German Engineering Association (VDMA) is the most important network for the mechanical engineering sector in Bavaria. Almost half of all Bavarian mechanical engineers are members.
As part of its Bavarian cluster initiative, the Bavarian State Government is promoting the operation of state-wide platforms in high-tech industries and traditional sectors of the Bavarian economy. The cluster platforms’ key remit is to link companies up with each other and companies and research institutions with each other. For the mechanical engineering industry, the Mechatronics & Automation cluster and Sensor Technology cluster ensure profitable networking.
In addition, the Bavarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) also offers its support throughout Bavaria with its locations in Munich/Upper Bavaria, Swabia, Regensburg/Upper Palatinate and in Franconia with Nuremberg, Bayreuth, Würzburg/Schweinfurt and Aschaffenburg. With the launch of the service and advice centre for regional industrial initiatives in the DIHK, regional industrial dialogue is to be strengthened and the industry’s innovative future topics, such as digitalisation, AI and the implementation of the energy system transformation, are to be supported and promoted. The DIHK is setting up the new service centre for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) as part of its Industrial Strategy 2030.
The Bavarian Employers’ Association for the Metalworking and Electrical Industries (BAYME e. V.) together with the Association for the Metalworking and Electrical Industries (VBM e. V.) represents the common economic, social and political interests of its members and thus also actively contributes to shaping the economic and social framework conditions in the mechanical engineering sector. In addition to the various fields of action in areas such as education, employment/securing skilled personnel, corporate financing, the associations offer professional support for coping with the digital challenges with their Innovation/Research and Technology platform.
Bavaria is not only an attractive location for established companies, but also for business start-ups. At many locations, the state not only offers the ideal economic factors but also a lively environment of universities as well as various research institutions with which founders can network and cooperate.
This is why Bavaria is counting on the state-wide networking of digital start-up centres, and with the BayStartUP start-up network on a central institution to support the establishment of companies and the search for start-up and growth capital.
For students and researchers, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) also offers a network platform called UnternehmerTUM as the largest centre for technical start-ups and innovation in Europe offering comprehensive start-up consulting services ranging from the initial idea to successful establishment on the market.
The last Start-up Connection of the VDMA’s Industry 4.0 Bavaria project took place in 2019 under the motto “Discuss, Learn, Collaborate”. The Start-up Connection is an innovative event that enables in-depth exchange between companies and start-ups. It is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy. The event is organised in partnership with the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship and the Zentrum Digitalisierung Bayern.
As part of the “Startup Radar” project, the VDMA identifies future topics, use cases and business model trends from AI start-ups relevant to mechanical engineering. Global ecosystems are investigated, start-up and investment trends are analysed and cooperation and disruption potential for the industry is derived. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Vision are currently the top topics for the mechanical and plant engineering industry, with innovative start-ups mainly preparing the ground with their trends, thus offering cooperation and disruption potential for the entire mechanical engineering industry.
Europe’s largest trade fair festival Bits & Pretzels, focuses the world’s attention on the city of Munich as an international location for start-ups, in addition to the Oktoberfest that takes place at the same time. Bits & Pretzels offers its visitors efficient networking with each other and start-ups the best opportunities to promote their ideas, network and business.