Project Future: Groundbreaking ceremony at the Cleantech Innovation Park

Construction of the first section of the Cleantech Innovation Park is scheduled to begin in August 2022, and the first projects for research and development of future technologies are to start from the end of 2023. At the groundbreaking ceremony ceremony on 7 June, Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, and Florent Menegaux, President of the Michelin Group, met for a top-level discussion.  

from left: P. Keller, J. Kalb, H. Aiwanger, F. Menegaux, M. Röttger, T. Söder, C. Metzger

A small stone with a big impact: On 7 June, the shareholders of Cleantech Innovation Park GmbH in Hallstadt laid the foundation stone for the future innovation centre at the former Michelin production site. There, practical research will soon be conducted on mobility concepts, drive systems and cutting-edge green technologies of the future. Construction of the innovation centre will begin at the end of August, as soon as the demolition work has been completed. The centre is the hub of the Cleantech Innovation Park. Around 20 million euros are being invested in the 8,000-square-metre construction project, the financing of which is being provided by the three shareholders: Michelin, the city of Hallstadt, represented by Mayor Thomas Söder, and the district, represented by District Administrator Johann Kalb. The innovation centre is scheduled to start operations at the end of 2023.

"We are very pleased that the Cleantech Innovation Park is now taking shape. The first projects from the fields of AI and digitalisation, e-mobility, resource efficiency in manufacturing and the mechanical engineering of the future are in the pipeline. The topic of hydrogen is also being extensively included, from fuel cell manufacturing processes to the creation of a corresponding training infrastructure. So with the completion of the building we can also welcome the first project partners," explains Peter Keller, Managing Director of Cleantech Innovation Park GmbH, also on behalf of the other shareholders. The major drivers of future collaborative projects with great practical relevance include various Fraunhofer institutes, the University of Bamberg, the University of Bayreuth and the Friedrich Alexander University of Nuremberg-Erlangen.

Cooperation between industry and the public sector

The importance of the Cleantech Innovation Park for the city of Hallstadt, the district of Bamberg and the region of northern Bavaria is also shown by the fact that Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, Florent Menegaux, President of the Michelin Group, and Maria Röttger, President and CEO of Michelin Europe North, met for a top-level discussion to lay the foundation stone. For Michelin, one of the overriding goals after the closure of the plant in Hallstadt was to create sustainable and good jobs that also offer new opportunities for future generations.

For the city of Hallstadt, the district of Bamberg and the state of Bavaria, the realisation of an efficient innovation centre for companies of different sizes, universities, research institutions and start-ups is the basis for strengthening the economic performance of the entire region. After all, the northern Bavarian automotive and supplier industry is facing enormous structural challenges. That is why all stakeholders are working to make the Cleantech Innovation Park a nucleus for green technologies of the future. "We see the Cleantech Innovation Park as a neutral innovation platform as well as a lighthouse project and innovation driver for the region and beyond. It creates networking structures between business, science and society," explains Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Döpper from the University of Bayreuth. 

First projects identified

The Innovation Centre is the actual place for companies and universities to carry out research and development projects. Six flexibly divisible workshops offer the players plenty of space to develop future technologies and make them marketable. In addition, they will find a strong network of competent partners at the Cleantech Innovation Park. The innovation centre is based on a user-oriented concept. This means that the type of use depends on what the partners want to develop and research there. "For our large-scale projects with companies in the field of electromobility, we need workshops and laboratories of the appropriate size and equipment. The Cleantech Innovation Park offers the perfect infrastructural prerequisite for this," says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörk Franke from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Prof. Dr. Ute Schmid from the University of Bamberg, Chair of Applied Computer Science in particular Cognitive Systems and Head of the Fraunhofer IIS Comprehensible AI Project Group, also wants to use the location as a platform: "The Cleantech Innovation Park offers an excellent opportunity for knowledge transfer between universities and companies. The University of Bamberg is particularly involved here with interdisciplinary projects in the field of artificial intelligence and the teaching of digitalisation skills in order to make digital, intelligent and sustainable production tangible, understandable and applicable for companies in the region.

There are currently several potential projects in the call for proposals. "We are very confident that many players from different fields will find their way to Hallstadt due to our focus on 'green future technologies'," says Keller. Beyond the regional significance, international cooperation is already in the offing within the framework of a Bavarian-Dutch fieldlab in the area of software & mechanical engineering, whose main topics will be sustainability, digitalisation. The Dutch Consul General Paul Ymkers commented: "Cooperation in Europe is more important than ever. The Bavarian-Dutch Fieldlab for Mechanical and Plant Engineering offers a unique network of research companies to exchange best practices and implement new solutions in projects. We look forward to working with our partners in the Cleantech Innovation Park."