The Munich Metropolitan Region benefits from the presence of a large number of research institutes, including university and non-university establishments as a well as numerous knowledge companies.
Physics has played an important role in Munich's research landscape since as far back as the 1960s, the research reactor in Garching launched nuclear research in the Munich Metropolitan Region. A number of separate research institutes have since grown out of this activity:
- Heinz Maier-Leibniz Research Neutron Source (FRM II) in Garching
- Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP)
- Max Planck Institut for Physics
- Max Planck Institut for Plasma Physics (IPP)
- Max Planck Institut for Astrophysics
- Max Planck Institut for Extraterrestrial Physics
- Max Planck Institut of Quantum Optics
Over the years, information technology too has emerged as a focus of industry in the Munich Metropolitan Region. The Technical University of Munich ranks as a leading light in mathematics, IT and electrical engineering. The Fraunhofer Society operates a number of institutes in the region, from which companies such as Microsoft (whose European headquarters are based here) also benefit.
Another discipline well represented in the region is medicine and the life sciences. The spectrum ranges from excellent university hospitals through research institutes for genetic engineering, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and food/biogenic materials to the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry.
Law is yet another focus of research in the Munich Metropolitan Region. The Max Planck Society has based its institutes for competition law, tax law and international criminal law in the Bavarian capital – by no means the least reason why the European Patent Office also set up its headquarters here in 1977.
Aerospace research likewise has a strong base in the Munich Metropolitan Region, thanks to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen and the presence of the Airbus Group (formerly EADS), which manufactures parts for the European space program in the region.
In the field of atmospheric environmental research, the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research's Atmospheric Environmental Research unit (IMK-IFU) on the Campus Alpin run by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is probably the longest-established environmental research institute in the whole of Germany.
The "Research Center for Energy Economics" (Ffe) has been active in this area since 1969 in Munich. The work of the FfE is concerned with various questions in the energy sector.
In addition to the institutes listed above, automotive research understandably occupies pride of place as a key research field in the Munich Metropolitan Region. The three heavyweight OEMs Audi, BMW and MAN are flanked by a wide range of smaller and highly innovative research organizations in the same industry.