68 | 69 BUSINESS & INNOVATION Korea and Japan invested more in R&D. 30 million people in gainful employment, Germany is considered to be Europe’s 12 million work for public or private service champion inventor. In 2014 German com- providers, almost 10 million in retailing, panies filed around 32,000 applications for hospitality and transportation, and more patent protection to the European Patent than five million for corporate service pro- Office in Munich. The same year, 65,958 in- viders. ventions were registered with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) – a Small and medium-sized enterprises – new record. The automotive supplier Bosch, the heart of the economy with 4,000 registrations, and the Schaeffler Group (2,518), which likewise operates in Despite the numerous global players and the automotive components sector, were large flagship businesses, the German the most prolific. In total there were exactly economy is characterised by 3.6 million 116,702 German patents in force in 2014. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Moreover, 458,042 industrial property rights as well as countless self-employed persons applicable to Germany were granted, the ap- and freelancers. The SME segment includes plications for which were processed by the around 99.6 percent of companies. SMEs European Patent Office. are defined as firms with annual sales of less than 50 million euros and fewer than Today, it is hard to imagine Germany as an 500 industrial centre without its services econ- founded by entrepreneurially minded mi- omy, which has long been on a constant grants now also enjoy SME status. More growth curve. A good 80 percent of all com- than 700,000 people with a migrant back- panies operate in this sector, accounting for ground own a company. As such, migrants almost 70 percent of gross domestic prod- in Germany are an important economic uct, and three quarters of all jobs. Of around factor. employees. Numerous companies MILESTONES 1955 1969 1989 On 5 August the one millionth VW Beetle leaves the assembly line in Wolfsburg. An absolute top seller, the car becomes a symbol of what went down in history as the Economic Miracle. In Toulouse (France) the Airbus consortium is founded as a Franco-German joint venture. Today, Airbus S.A.S. is the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer. Postal Reform I marks the beginning of the privatisation of the giant publicly-owned corporation that is Deutsche Bundespost. The privatisation is regarded as one of the biggest reforms in German economic history.