The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is Germany’s third-largest industrial sector in terms of revenues. It produces a wide range of products, including fine chemicals, specialty chemicals, petrochemicals, inorganic chemicals, synthetic materials, agrochemicals and fertilisers, laundry and cleaning agents, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, paints and adhesives.
A world-class industry
With revenues of €186.8 billion in 2012, the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry is by far the largest European chemical and pharmaceutical industry as well as being the fourth-largest worldwide, according to data provided by the German chemical industry association VCI. Revenues from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry constitute nearly 11 percent of the total revenues in Germany’s processing industries. Furthermore, with a market share of over 11 percent, Germany was the world’s largest exporter of chemical products in 2011. The country exported chemical products with a total value of €160 billion.
According to VCI, over 90 percent of Germany’s more than 1,900 chemical companies are small and medium-sized enterprises. These companies are often based in one of the country’s numerous chemical parks. The outstanding infrastructure, combined with an interconnected system of raw materials and energy, enables companies based in these parks to remain competitive in their production.
Some 434,000 workers are employed in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Many of them are graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to figures from the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), 126 out of every 1,000 employees in the industry are graduates in these four key fields, which are in particular demand in Germany.
Third place worldwide in the field of innovation
The chemical and pharmaceutical industry holds a strong position in the area of research. Its high number of innovations and wide range of products make the industry a major supplier for other industries. The industry’s estimated expenditures for research and development were around €9.6 billion in the year 2012, according to VCI. This positions the German industry at third place in an international comparison. In the year 2010, 77 percent of the companies in Germany’s chemical and pharmaceutical industry brought new products to the market. Some €13 billion altogether was invested in innovations. According to data from Germany Trade & Invest, Germany holds third place worldwide in the number of patent applications filed for chemical products. Germany is also among the top-ranking countries in its number of patent applications for pharmaceutical products. Innovations in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry are actively supported by the federal government’s High-Tech Strategy. Further information on the High-Tech Strategy 2020 for Germany is available here. It also covers the development of digital products and associated processes and services – to allow companies to collaborate more easily, for example.