Mannheim and the surrounding Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region have always stood for ingenuity and inventiveness. And even today, people here think in terms of solutions, not problems. The region's outstanding universities and research institutions are strong partners for industry. Diverse cooperations offer an excellent basis for a lively start-up culture and a successful technology transfer.
Mannheim's Water Tower rises majestically above Friedrichsplatz, almost touching the clouds. Built in the 19th century, the city's landmark has ensured its water supply for years. Today, the more than 60-metre high tower pays tribute to the role of water in the economic strength of Mannheim, as it serves as the foundation of trade and goods transport.
So it's not surprising that the city, situated between two rivers, the Neckar and the Rhine, is a prime location for companies. Another reason the city is so sought after is because of its good infrastructure. That is why many research institutes, companies and representatives of the healthcare industry have made this city their home. Mannheim, with its streets laid out as a grid, is simply the heart of the Rhine-Neckar region in Southwest Germany.
Mannheim is also known for its cultural diversity. People from more than 166 countries live side by side here. This multicultural melting pot has brought joy to the lives of the residents. For example, in 1969, the Italian-born Dario Fontanella created the most beloved ice cream treat in Germany, known as 'spaghetti ice cream'. Moreover, the diversity of the population draws international companies to the city. There are people from more than 60 nations who work at the Roche campus in Mannheim alone. They enrich the company with their different languages and with the different ways they think and work, which in turn makes Roche more competitive.
Mannheim is a city with a history of inventions. With 4.95 patents per 10,000 residents, it is far above the German average and is a centre of innovation and progress.
Innovation is the basis for prosperity and employment. It strengthens competitiveness, promotes identification with the region and enhances its appeal. In Mannheim, there is plenty of room for eccentric ideas and the unusual. This is a region of doers and inventors, something that history has proven.
The people of Mannheim have always demonstrated an innovative spirit, in particular, in the area of mobility. Two hundred years ago, Karl Drais made the first bicycle tour ever with his "draisine". Carl Benz invented the first patented motor car in Mannheim almost 130 years ago, while Julius Hatry built the first rocket-engine aircraft in the world in 1929.
Drive is part of Mannheim's DNA. And drive makes change possible. A climate like this paired with a well-developed infrastructure, an excellent university and research community, and a powerful business environment forge the ideal waterways for techies, inventors and the next generations.
The Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region is home to approximately 2.4 million people, who are exceedingly curious and inventive, with 2.3 percent of the population working in research and development. That is almost twice the national average.
The region has a long tradition of study and research. Founded in 1386, the University of Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany. As many as 56 Nobel laureates are connected to this institution rich in tradition.
There are 23 universities and institutions of higher education that develop young talent. Along with these universities that drive scientific research, there are 30 research institutes in Mannheim, including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), four Max Planck Institutes, the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), and the Fraunhofer Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology (PAMB).
Due to the high concentration of research institutes and Life Science companies in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, a highly-effective biotechnology network has developed there. Two hundred partners are active in the biotechnology cluster, comprised of approximately 80 small and medium-sized companies, and seven large biotech, pharmaceutical, and healthcare companies.
With a finger on the pulse of the times, the BioMed X Innovation Center has created a cooperative model that serves as an interface between science and industry. Outstanding scientists from around the world work at the centre on novel pre-clinical research projects in biomedicine, molecular biology, cellular biology, diagnostics and consumer care.
Focus industries are biotechnology, life sciences, healthcare, plant and mechanical engineering, and automotive. Successful companies work together with the diverse scientific and research community to create a partnership that is mutually beneficial. A strong economy needs well-trained professionals.
The Roche campus in Mannheim cooperates closely with universities and non-university research institutes in the region. Through 2-track study programmes or collaboration in the development of medical products, Roche benefits greatly from the role of Mannheim as a scientific centre.
In Mannheim, Roche processes many active ingredients to turn them into ready-to-use products. From research and development to production, sales and logistics, it houses the entire value chain. Roche's global logistics centre in Mannheim delivers products to customers in over 170 countries.
The site is a strong partner within the Group and has a clear focus on high-tech and automation in the value chain. Within the Roche Group, the Mannheim site is a service provider for complex challenges, for example, for drugs that are costly to produce but are highly effective, as well as for new diagnostic test methods that require a high degree of expertise to produce.
Diabetes Care, Diagnostics, and Pharma are all housed under one roof in Mannheim. This means the three divisions can quickly share their ideas and experiences – a benefit to all. Because in the end, all three have the common goal to use skills and knowledge to create a better quality of life for people.
Mannheim adapts, implements and optimises new trends such as digitalisation for Roche product development and production. As the innovation centre for point-of-care diagnostics, the experts at the site increasingly use for example data analyses for the further development of POC systems. This means Roche products can better meet the needs of customers and patients. Roche increasingly invests in ideas and solutions that facilitate easier decision-making for doctors.
Diabetes Care also uses the opportunities of digitalisation to help patients achieve better treatment outcomes. The approach is to reduce patients' long-term blood sugar levels through digitally supported, integrated Personalized Diabetes Management (iPDM). Within the framework of this concept, digital solutions also help to make practice processes more efficient, facilitate the handling of therapy-relevant data, support the interaction between doctor and patient and can contribute to increasing the motivation of people with diabetes.
Well-trained employees work with highly automated production processes on a daily basis to produce, in particular, products that are developed to meet the needs of people with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Life-prolonging drugs that treat cancer and important products for in vitro diagnostics are also produced here.
More than 60 modern and highly automated production, packaging and labelling facilities are used in Mannheim for pharmaceutical and diagnostics production. Some of these facilities were even designed by Mannheim technology experts themselves. Their expertise is so well-developed that Mannheim engineers are now developing and engineering highly specialised and fully automated special equipment for Roche production sites around the world. To do this, they are relying more and more on digitalised processes and digital maintenance to create more intelligent service processes. This means that the facility itself reports when maintenance is due, even before repairs are necessary.
Since 2006, 3D printing is being used for rapid prototyping and machine and spare parts. This advanced technology enables printers to create parts that would have been impossible to make using milling, turning and eroding techniques. "3D printing has revolutionised production technology and opens doors to new possibilities. We can now think in completely new ways when we design these products", explains Andreas Speier, Manager of Mechanical Systems Maintenance.
With investments of more than one billion euros, Roche has expanded the Mannheim site over the last five years, making it ready for the future. High-tech production facilities, multifunctional laboratory buildings, technologies and infrastructure-related measures are modernising the site.
Five new buildings have been built recently. The new Pharma production building with an ultra-modern filling system, built by Mannheim specialists, can produce up to five million vials per year. This is the most expensive single investment ever made in Mannheim, and it signals the Group's trust in Mannheim as a key site.
What is particularly important is the close collaboration between the diagnostics and pharmaceuticals divisions. The two divisions work together in the new laboratory building. Quality controls and long-term stability tests are carried out on products here.
The new sales building has been designed to accommodate the needs of Roche's customers and features impressive sustainable construction methods. In addition to office work stations, rooms for customer and employee training, and a demo lab, the building has a photovoltaic system and charging stations for electric cars.
The new sustainable cold water storage tank is the largest of its kind in Germany. The new tank provides additional cold water for climate control to the new Pharma Production buildings and the laboratory building, as well as for the expansion of Diagnostics production. And one great side effect is that it reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,100 tons each year.
Furthermore, Mannheim houses one of the most energy-efficient computer buildings in the entire Roche Group. It primarily supports the Pharma and Diagnostics production systems, as well as the site systems.
What can be more sustainable than developing products that improve the lives of patients? Innovation and sustainability are integral parts of our business strategy, and our contribution to society. Roche makes lasting, prudent decisions for the future. Working sustainably, protecting the environment, creating a life-enriching, modern workplace and assuming social responsibility. For Roche, these tasks are self-evident. In Mannheim, high-tech and sustainability go hand in hand.
The site's energy footprint reflects this approach: more than 90 percent of the energy used for electricity and heat has come from sustainable sources since September. At the same time, energy consumption has fallen from 164 gigajoules per employee and year in 2005 to 106 gigajoules in 2017. This is possible not only because of efficient and modern plants and technologies, but also thanks to partnerships with energy service providers.
The grounds of the site are taken care of by many green thumbs. Approximately 20 percent of the campus consists of green spaces. In the summer, rare butterflies flutter past the industrial buildings and across fields of colourful wild flowers.
The working environment in Mannheim is also colourful, diverse and international. People from over 60 countries work on the campus. They can take advantage of a wide range of flexible working time models. With these models, Roche supports employees in different stages of life and with diverse life plans.
The goal is to create a working environment that encourages employees to shape their own careers. This is well received by employees and potential hires. This can be seen in the average number of years employees stay with the company – approximately 13 years – and numerous awards as best employer.
Modern and digital technologies are part of our daily work in Mannheim. When servicing and repairing production facilities, technicians use smart glasses, for example, that offer them an augmented reality. These lightweight glasses allow them to service special equipment at the various Roche sites remotely and support technicians at these sites. This technology saves up to 70 percent in travel costs.
The virtual world is becoming a reality. Mannheim is the Centre of Excellence for the Roche Group in the creation of virtual laboratory landscapes. These offer customers a comprehensive look at the complete solutions, as opposed to simply the individual products. The technology saves travel costs, transport materials and complex, replicated prototypes in product development. Virtual reality also supports Roche in training, because it facilitates faster access to instruments and processes.
Roche employees are socially active in many ways. They support charitable causes and make monetary donations or donate goods to humanitarian projects. Many of the employees dedicate some of their free time to volunteering or take part in events, such as the Roche Children's Walk, a charity walk to raise money for children in need.
One focus is the promotion of education and, in particular, natural and life sciences, especially in Mannheim and the entire region. Getting involved and becoming locally active – this is important to Roche.
How can products be developed more specifically? How can production errors be permanently eliminated? And how can the use of diagnostic equipment be better adapted to customer needs? Data Science helps to answer these questions.
Anna Osberghaus knows how to elicit data their secrets. Since 2015, the graduate engineer has been part of a unit responsible for the development of algorithms and mathematical support. She is currently working on the research and development of a new system for measuring glucose in hospitals. Experts from the fields of medical technology, mathematical physics, modelling and statistics are working on this project to translate the complex information of the measuring device into an informative glucose value and to create automated data analysis.
In this day and age, data accumulates in great quantities. But data alone is not of much use, you have to elicit the information from it. This is where experts like Anna Osberghaus come in. Data scientists are putting huge amounts of data in order.
With their own "toolbox", the experts can recognize coherencies even in large and complex data sets. With classical methods, these would remain hidden. For this reason, research and development units are increasingly employing experts - because without them, data science would be useless.
The analysis of data is the basis for constantly developing better products. Data Science helps to some extent to predict future developments and understand how processes work. Thanks to data science methods, decisions are based on scientific findings. A real benefit!
Today, data analysis is offered by countless tools. Anna Osberghaus is critical of the unqualified use of this software, which could endanger the quality of the analyses. "Data Science has powerful tools, but no wands. The quality of the result does not depend on the tool but on the user", says Osberghaus. In their eyes, therefore, well-qualified people who can handle the tools and make well-founded statements are indispensable. A data scientist must prove his skill and be able to display the extensive and multidimensional data in a suitable way to bring light into the darkness of the data jungle.
Anna Osberghaus loves her work, in which data plays the central role. "For a data-based decision, everyone in the team works hand in hand, formulating the question and obtaining the necessary data: each discipline contributes its own information and skills so that a whole picture emerged and the decision can be made and supported together," the young data scientist explains her passion.