Chemicals and pharmaceuticals

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

A world-class industry

With revenues of €190.8 billion in 2014, 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 almost 11 percent, Germany was the world’s largest exporter of chemical products in 2014. The country exported chemical products with a total value of €160 billion.

According to VCI, over 90 percent of Germany’s more than 2,000 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 444,800 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

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 expenditures for research and development were around €10 billion in the year 2015, according to VCI. This positions the German industry at fourth place in an international comparison. 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.

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Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Industry focus on chemicals and pharmaceuticals (German)

The federal government

High-Tech Strategy 2020 for Germany (German, English)

Germany Trade & Invest

Locations, research and labour requirements in the chemical industry (German, English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian)

Facts and figures on the pharmaceutical industry in Germany (German, English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian)

German Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Information on current issues in the pharmaceutical industry (German)

Industrieverband Körperpflege und Waschmittel e.V.

Information on the cosmetic industry and the manufacturers of laundry and cleaning agents (German, English)

The German association of drug manufacturers

Specialised courses for pharmacists and information in the field of drug research (German, English)

Industrieverband Agrar e.V.

Information on the agrochemical industry (German)

German Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies

Information on pharmaceutical research (German, English)

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