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Germany: Lidl founder Dieter Schwarz builds the entire city according to his ideas

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Discount Retail Chain Lidl's (owned by Schwarz Group) founder Dieter Schwarz is investing huge sums in his hometown of Heilbronn. He wants to lead it into the future as a city of knowledge and education.

Construction is everywhere in Heilbronn. It feels like something new is emerging around every corner. Hardly anyone else has helped shape the cityscape of Heilbronn like Lidl founder Dieter Schwarz. A coding school, university and laboratories the company boss seems to be leaving his footprints everywhere.

You hardly get to see the Lidl boss himself. Dieter Schwarz lives a secluded life, gives no official photos and does not appear in public. Nevertheless, it can be felt throughout Heilbronn.

Lidl founder Dieter Schwarz: "Education is the raw material of the future"

Dieter Schwarz wants to give something back to his home town of Heilbronn. Heilbronn is to become a kind of model location with the most modern educational and research facilities. The multi-billionaire invests a lot of money for this. The coding school "42" only opened in May 2021. As reported by, the school belongs to the Paris Coding School. The French originally planned to establish a branch of their school in large cities such as Berlin or Stuttgart. Thanks to Dieter Schwarz, the choice fell on Heilbronn instead.

The city is also known for its educational campus. In February 2010, construction began on a derelict commercial site in the city center. Today there are 16 modern buildings. The financial resources for this come from the Schwarz Foundation, which is financed from dividends from the two companies Lidl Foundation and Kaufland Foundation. "Education is the raw material of the future," said the Lidl founder at the time. Over the years, other educational institutions were added to the campus: the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW), an offshoot of the Technical University of Munich, a Fraunhofer Institute and the Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute settled in Heilbronn. The Schwarz Group also uses the education campus to test Lidl and Kaufland stores without cashiers.

Heilbronn is also to become the site for the state of Baden-Württemberg's artificial intelligence future park . Heilbronn does not have to worry about the financing, because according to information from Spiegel, Dieter Schwarz is also helping here.

Dieter Schwarz Foundation to “support the region’s transformation process”

Other German companies are also involved through their own foundations. But no one else is making such a strong change at a location as Dieter Schwarz in Heilbronn, reports Spiegel. At the same time, the billionaire's foundation is more than opaque. Thanks to the foundation form of his company, the Schwarz Group does not have to allow any co-determination of the employees and only publish limited business figures. The Dieter Schwarz Foundation itself does not disclose any figures and does not appear in any official ranking.

Nevertheless, the good ambitions cannot be denied: Reinhold Geilsdörfer, head of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, names the goal of the foundation as "supporting the transformation process in the region". The city should become younger and more international. Already 95 percent of the students who started in Heilbronn in the winter semester are from abroad. That's exactly what you wanted, says the head of the foundation to Spiegel. Looks like Dieter Schwarz will continue to build the perfect city of the future.


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