SWOT Analysis of the Bonn Bid for the European Medicines Agency

Bonn, once a city that played a significant role in late 20th century world affairs, has not featured in news reports as frequently in recent years having been shorn of the German parliament in 1990. The city is now one of three German cities seeking to host the European Medicines Agency.

The city that hosts the Federal Institute for Drugs & Medical Devices is definitely ‘one to watch’.  Furthermore, the fact that Bonn also hosts the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the European Society of Oncology Research will also count in its favour.  Both of the organisations referenced have close ties with the EMA.  The recent KPMG report placed Bonn ahead of cities such as Dublin, Brussels, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and others in the competition to host the European Medicines Agency.

While the city might have slipped from the minds of many since its days as the West German capital, it still hosts a number of government departments and it plays an important part in German governmental infrastructure.

As one would expect from a major world economy, Germany is a world leader in life sciences.  Bonn and its near neighbour cities of Aachen, Cologne and Leverkusen host a large number of globally known companies such as:

Furthermore, the North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) region is home, in Leverkusen, to global giant Bayer.  The region is regarded by many as Germany’s economic engine.  From a scientific perspective, the NRW region offers much to the European Medicines Agency including 6 of Germany’s top 12 largest universities.

Let’s look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by Bonn.


As already outlined above, the city that many might discount is a serious contender in this endeavour.  It has an industrial base in NRW, world leading academic and research facilities and, most importantly, it is home to the German national competent authority. It must be remembered that the German authority has a larger workforce than the EMA and therefore might be better placed to fill the gap left by the departure of the MHRA from the European system.


It is hard to identify many weaknesses with this bid.  Many people might point out that the size of the city, in comparison to other contenders, would make it less attractive to EMA staff.  However, it has an excellent infrastructure and significantly lower cost of living that other contenders.  The KPMG report (now publicly available) puts the average monthly rent for a 120sqm apartment at €1,166 pcm compared to €4,057 for a similar abode in Paris.

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Again, as with other SWOT analyses on our site, there is the opportunity for further investment into the NRW region as a result of the EMA relocation.


Bonn is one of three competing German cities.  It faces a battle from Berlin and Munich.  Its minnow status against the two larger cities must not be underestimated.

As you can see, Bonn has much to offer this competition and it has an excellent chance of hosting the EMA based on the criteria outlined above.

Germany, unlike many other European member states, has a stable political environment.  While groups such as alternatives für deutschland are gaining ground in some quarters with their offering of nationalism, euroscepticism, demands for the reintroduction of conscription and the return of the ‘traditional family’ (their words), there is little possibility that their views will be in the majority in the foreseeable future.

This SWOT analysis is part of an ongoing series looking at prospective EMA host cities and is part of our wider commentary on Brexit.  To stay informed of updates you should subscribe to our regular newsletter by completing your details below.