“The heart of the medical device industry … beats in Tuttlingen!”
From Tuttlingen homepage
The city of Tuttlingen is in the south west of Germany. It is a small city with only 35,000 citizens and it is built around the Honberg mountain where ruins of a fortress built in the Middle Ages still stands. Historically the town is know as the place where the French suffered a severe defeat during the 30 year war in the 1600s.
This little city’s strategic focus has been on developing medical devices for the world market and it has managed to balance a consistent strategy with an impressive implementation capacity.
Tüttlingen is the home of hundreds of surgical equipment companies. In spite of being a small place, half the world’s surgical equipment is manufactured here.
The cluster emerged during the second half of the 19th century. The first manufacturer of surgical instruments was set up in 1866 and has since become one of the best known manufacturers of medical technology products world-wide (Aesculap Corporation). The cluster developed into a world center of medical technology in the first half of the 20th century, and the cluster firms then succeeded in regaining and maintaining their leading positions on the world market after World War II.
At present, Tuttlingen contains about 500 small- and medium sized firms engaged in the production and trade of surgical products, as well as about 200 suppliers and subcontractors. A few large-scale enterprises act as hubs within the cluster.
With the aim of making Tuttlingen’s strength visible, a permanent exhibition has been built. About 170 manufacturers and sales companies display their surgical instruments and medical appliances, alongside an exhibition of historical surgical instruments The exhibition is open all year and the entrance is of course free to everyone. Behind the unique place position stands close private-public cooperation.
The Tuttlingen case illustrates that, with consistent place management efforts, even a small place can achieve a world leading position.
We in Bearing have seen so many similar examples that it is hard not to conclude that given the right place management it may be easier to organise a strong place development programme in a smaller, rural place.
This assumption is based on the following observations:
1) it is easier for stakeholders to communicate in smaller places since people are more connected and have a closer access to each other;
2) the sense of collective belonging is stronger;
3) there are fewer special interests which might counteract each other;
4) the consequences of a positive place performance, as well as its opposite, are more directly felt in a small place.
Thus the city of Tuttlingen illustrates the place management principle of focusing.