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European Innovation Council

Mainz (Germany)

The European Rising Innovative city - 2nd place: Mainz (Germany)

Aerial view of Mainz - down half of  the picture the city, upper part blue sky with some white clouds.

Mainz: transforming ideas into solutions

Mainz is a city with ecosystems that work together in a people-centric approach to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. Its entrepreneurial spirit is based on a supporting environment for diverse and innovative ideas, enabling it to shape the future.

The basis of its innovative strength

Innovation is a tradition in Mainz, and its impact was already being felt as early as 1450 with the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's movable-type printing press starting the Printing Revolution in Europe.

Today, successful innovations from Mainz, such as the development of the first COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty®, or the first commercial plant for the production of green hydrogen are moving the world forward on the most fundamental issues of our time.

Its innovators come from academia, business and the public sector. All are united by a passion and determination to make their ideas a reality. For breakthrough innovations to succeed, the most important factor are the people who drive change. They need an environment that encourages experimentation, escalation and expansion. And they also need effective ecosystems covering all relevant stakeholders from academia, industry, government and the public sector that constantly adapt to the changing demands of innovation.

Mainzvibes - its unique asset

Its unique culture rooted in hospitality, openness, cordiality and a down-to-earth mentality provides the ideal conditions for innovation to flourish. These "Mainzvibes" encourage proactive entrepreneurship and a start-up spirit while creating the conditions and networks to experiment with new ideas and lead them to breakthrough solutions. They are convinced that grassroots participation is a powerful approach that clearly outperforms traditional top-down practices. Establishing an environment that stimulates public-private partnerships, resources, diversity and talent forms the starting point for growth.

Green Transformation – they are designing a sustainable future

Decarbonisation is one of the most challenging issues facing the world today. They feel they have a responsibility to do their part and make an impact – not just today. As early as 2015, they started operating the world’s first large-scale production plant for green hydrogen in a public-private partnership with experts from Mainzer Stadtwerke AG, Linde PLC, Siemens AG and Hochschule RheinMain. The locally produced hydrogen is used to power our buses for the public transport network. Additionally, the green hydrogen is fed into the public natural gas grid, delivering up to 10% in green energy to private households.

Currently, a fourth purification step to purify wastewater is being implemented and the oxygen produced in this way will be used for ozonation and further purification of the water, while the resulting hydrogen will also supply a hydrogen fuelling station as well as the public natural gas grid. Another project is ongoing to use hydrogen as the primary source of energy in industrial production processes at two energy-intensive industrial partners, Schott AG (glass industry) and Essity GmbH (paper industry). With these initiatives as well as many more renewable energy projects they are demonstrating their ambitious goal to reach net-zero carbon as early as 2035 – as outlined in our “Master Plan for 100% Net Zero Carbon Emissions”

Digital transformation – an ecosystem to meet the needs of the city

“Digitalisation made in Mainz” is people-centric and based on our strong ecosystem. Their customer-focused digital strategy as well as their “advisory board for digitalisation” ensures a holistic, grassroots approach and targeted smart city development. In addition to many other digitalisation initiatives, the Gutenberg Digital Hub e.V. offers space for digital users, coworking opportunities and a platform for start-ups, SMEs, industry and science. In this way, they are creating an environment where inspiring ideas can become practical solutions for people and nature. They are proud to host successful start-ups, companies, initiatives and networks such as the IT Klub Mainz und Rheinhessen e.V., which are making history by transforming ground-breaking ideas into solutions for our focus areas of “smart infrastructure”, “digital administration”, “education & living together”, “economics, innovation and cooperation” and “mobility, environment and urban development”. Broad internal and external cooperations create the hotbed for unforeseen new opportunities: e.g. the first-ever IOT-sensors, developed by the start-up Hawa Dawa GmbH, that detect air pollutants and meet European requirements for indicative measurement of nitrogen dioxides, as certified by the independent auditor TÜV Süd.

Furthermore, Mainz is proud to belong to the first members of the Daten-Kompetenzzentrum Städte und Regionen (DKSR), an open-source urban data platform and community enabling digital use-cases to be shared between cities.

Biotech & Life Sciences – disruptive technologies with interdisciplinary approaches

Build upon creative cutting-edge research landscapes and infrastructures, translation of fundamental scientific research into clinical applications is a major success story in Mainz. A prominent example of such an innovative transdisciplinary concept is TRON gGmbH. Its practices to accelerate translation are unique in Germany. The most prominent example is for sure the contribution to the development of Comirnaty®, the world´s first COVID-19 vaccine engineered by BioNTech SE.

Tightly knit networks like Ci3- and curATime clusters, as well as CIMT (an information and education platform), FORTHEM and Mainzer Wissenschaftsallianz facilitate the knowledge exchange between stakeholders within the region and internationally.

The incredible success of their entrepreneurs encouraged them to develop a vision of a holistic biotech & life science location. They target to create a modern, lively place of exchange and intensive work at the highest level. A place for networking that offers optimal conditions for the development of each player. A place that supports and inspires.

One vision – one city

Throughout the city they are implementing inspiring governance models, systems and tools to foster breakthrough innovation in the relevant focus areas of the future – digitalisation, carbon neutrality, biotechnology and life sciences.

They are convinced that Mainz will be a carbon neutral city, a modern, fully digital and attractive place to live and work, a place where innovation drives the future.

Their joint conviction is also expressed in the application of the city: the contributions of the project represent the entire innovation network in Mainz.