Traditionally, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania’s industrial sector is weak, since the mostly rural and agricultural region was never fully industrialised and still today remains dominated by the service (i.e. tourism) and agricultural sector. Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is and will likely remain for some time to come, one of Germany’s least industrialised regions.
The small and fragmented industrial sector is dominated by the food and fishing sector, maritime technology, mechanical engineering, automotive and aviation, logistics and ports, renewable energies and life science. Most industrial firms are small to medium-size firms positioned at the boundaries of the handicraft sector and larger scale industrial production. Some larger industrial companies are found in the maritime and the mechanical engineering sector, such as Mecklenburg Metal Casting (MMG), Nordex SE, and the Hydraulics Nord Ltd. Along the Baltic coast there are several medium-size shipyards capable of building large-scale cruise ships, for example in Wismar, Rostock-Warnemünde, Wolgast and Stralsund. In Rostock, Liebherr-MCCtec manufactures maritime cranes, mobile harbour cranes, ship cranes, offshore cranes and reach-stackers.
Additionally, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is gaining ground in the area of renewable energy, both with regards to electricity production and the manufacturing of wind turbines and photovoltaic systems. Both of which are used heavily across the region, most notably in offshore wind parks. Nordex SE, a major manufacturer of wind turbines is located in Rostock. The Offshore-Wind farm Baltic 1 has 21 wind energy plants and the second park Baltic II has 80 and the future wind farm Arcadis Ost I was approved and will consist of a further 58 wind turbines. The wind energy network (WindEnergy Network) in the region is the leading network for wind energy in the northeast of Germany as well as the number one national contact point for offshore-wind energy in Germany, with a network of 132 companies.
Both the extension of industrial activities and the setup of new, production oriented regional firms are publicly supported through a number of (many ERDF co-financed) measures from traditional subsidies for R&D in business enterprises and standard SME guarantee and loan schemes to more innovative financial instruments that specifically target innovative start-ups or investments into innovative projects developed by and in the local SME sector. As Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is a small region, most responsibilities for support policies rest directly with the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Construction and Tourism.
Furthermore, there are several industry driven initiatives, such as the IT Lagoon, the Biocon Valley or the Entrepreneur’s Club Rostock. Overall, however, the density of industrial firms is thin and there are limited options to set up and maintain viable cluster initiatives.
NORD/LB published during 2015 a study on opportunities and risks of Industry 4.0 in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Among the region’s strengths for implementing Industry 4.0 are the concentration on six future-oriented fields with regional comparative advantages, a broad variety of regional networks that integrate industry, policy and science, university and non-university research institutes that can produce important impulses for Industry 4.0, a good transport infrastructure and good integration in the Baltic Sea Region. However, the state faces various weaknesses that may impede the introduction of Industry 4.0. Among these are supply and intensity of digitalisation, a lack of qualified labour in some relevant fields, the small scale of the regional economy and below-average activities of technology-based start-ups, etc. The study also refers to opportunities for regional core sectors, particularly in health and food sectors, mechanical engineering and shipbuilding.
In 2016 Fraunhofer published a study about the potential “Industrie 4.0 und Digitalisierung der Wirtschaft - Potenziale Für Mecklenburg-vorpommern“. In this document, they present the position of the companies in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania as well as funding programmes and support options. One of the main outcomes are that first an update of the existing technological infrastructure shall be prioritised, which will be more digitalised and automated in the future. Furthermore, an intensive knowledge transfer between companies and research is necessary, as well as training opportunities for the existing employees.