Transfer into the real world
What type of future do we want to live in? Eleven so-called Zukunftsorte in Berlin are addressing this question. One of them is Siemens Square
As a research campus, the Werner-von-Siemens Centre for Industry and Science e.V. lies at the heart of Siemensstadt and has successfully cultivated a new spirit of optimism. Intriguing issues and challenges of the future are no longer simply issues of discussion but are giving way to promising technological solutions and industrial roadmaps.
Werner-von-Siemens Centre (WvSC) is the first instance of active cooperation between industry and research in Siemensstadt. Here, research and industry are to work hand in hand to create innovative solutions on topics like digitalisation, additive manufacturing, and new materials, therefore “increasing the pace of innovation”. As a registered non-profit association, WvSC wants to become an association for promoting research endeavours in Berlin. Its main focus is on future technologies and developing innovation for products and manufacturing. Its distinguishing feature is that the research is conducted right where the value is created. Ideas are to be applied directly in the industry. Because new ideas and technologies also change job profiles, research results are transferred into education and training opportunities for the people involved.
In October 2018, an agreement was signed by the State of Berlin, Siemens AG, Technische Universität Berlin, Fraunhofer Society, and the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) to develop an industry and research campus in Siemensstadt. To this end, they set up new university chairs that are geared specifically to the requirements of innovative manufacturing industries and support the structural changes taking place in manufacturing.
Because of this, the daily tasks of the team of Erik Wiegard, managing director of the association, could not be more diverse. Officially launched in the summer of 2019, the Werner-von-Siemens Centre focuses on providing industrial partners, scientific institutes, and small medium-sized companies and start-ups with a research platform that helps facilitate cooperation under laboratory or real-life conditions. “We see ourselves as hosts”, explains Wiegard. “The results produced by research projects can’t leave the labs at the very end,” says the Westphalian native and Siemensian, which is an endearing term for Siemens employees. “We need the transfer into the real world much earlier and it has to be broken down to match the requirements of medium-sized companies, the Mittelstand. This is where we come in. One could say it’s like open-heart surgery.”
Wiegard has seen a community develop around the Centre’s three locations in Moabit, at Rohrdamm, and Nonnendamm. Industrial companies, medium-sized companies, start-ups, and research facilities mingle there, do research, and work together on “the things they need”. Parts of that are basic research, but it is always oriented towards the needs of the market and validated by the diversity of the people involved and the close connections between research and manufacturing with “real data”.
As part of Siemensstadt Square – Berlin’s youngest Zukunftsort – the Centre is a member of the Berliner Zukunftsorte network. Here, too, Wiegard sees enormous opportunities. “It’s about synchronising know-how. It doesn’t help if everybody is stewing in their own juices.” Cooperation with the Technology Park Adlershof is particularly close-knit. “We are always on the lookout for overlap.” This is found particularly in technology fields such as digitalisation, new materials, mobility, and energy, or innovative manufacturing methods, which already have technology field days taking place. Roland Sillmann, head of WISTA Management GmbH, sits on the association’s advisory board; companies and institutes from Adlershof – including xolo, a biotech start-up, and BAM – are members. “We are aligning our goals, short and long term. Mapping out blueprints that could be used for other Zukunftsorte, too.”
Rico Bigelmann for POTENZIAL