Innovative by Tradition

Technology made in Saxony

Healing technology: Threedimensional back treatment device CTT CentaurWhat connects the world’s first daily newspaper, the world’s largest red brick bridge, the bra, the teabag and toothpaste? They all are innovations and technical advances made in Saxony. Indeed, throughout its history, the region located at the heart of Germany has proven itself to be inventive and innovative. Europe’s first porcelain was concocted in Saxony, albeit whilst trying to produce gold with alchemy, and then began its international success at the trade fair in Leipzig, incidentally the world’s oldest trade fair. Equipped with a plethora of trade and crafts, Saxony entered the German industrial revolution to quickly become the then most advanced and industrialised area of Germany. Europe’s largest industrial quarter was located in Leipzig, which was also the birthplace of German Social Democracy. The first German steam train was built 1839 in Dresden to service the first German long distance railway between Leipzig and Dresden.

Technological progress was always at the heart of these developments. “Mir Sachsn, mir sin helle” – translated: We Saxon people are quite bright – explains how this was possible. Saxony has Germany’s second oldest university: Leipzig University founded in 1409, and the world’s oldest Institute of Technology, the Bergakademie in Freiberg, founded in 1765.

International player in future industries

Today there are seven universities and institutes of technology, twelve universities of applied sciences and a wealth of research institutes which engender Saxony’s progress and success in several technology fields. The Free State of Saxony sports the strongest economy of all five new Länder – the regions of the former Communist GDR. Strong electronic and metal-working industries add to the position Saxony has been able to achieve as an important international player in the future industries of semiconductor manufacturing, microelectronics, nanotechnology, biotech and medtech. This manifests itself in several clusters and networks specialising in these areas. The endearingly called “Silicon Saxony” is Europe’s largest network of companies and research facilities dedicated to semiconductor and microelectronic research, development and distribution. Situated between the cities of Dresden and Chemnitz, the input of academic research at universities, R&D in large companies such as AMD and Infi neon as well as research in renowned research facilities like the Fraunhofer Institut merges into an extremely fruitful output. The evolution of semiconductor technology was brought forward in this network. Two world premieres exemplify this: In 1999, the copper technology necessary for ever smaller processors was introduced first in Dresden. In 2008, the world’s fi rst E-Paper-Display-Fab started production in the city. World leaders such as the wafer company Freiberger Compound Materials and the OLED (organic light emitting diode) manufacturer Novaled have their home in Silicon Saxony and help the growth of the region. Fifty percent of Europe’s chip production today is “Made in Saxony”. It is also here that unique combinations of tradition and future technology spring forward. The Fraunhofer Center for Organic Materials and Electronic Devices Dresden (OMEDD) has teamed up with the traditional porcelain manufacturer Manufaktur Meissen to produce a completely new generation of lighting. It is a truly Saxon enterprise to bring together the inventor of European porcelain (Meissen) with a world leader in OLED technology research to create highly energy effi cient designs to transform living spaces. The biotechnological cluster “Biosaxony” is another important centre of competence in the region. So far Germany’s fifth largest biotech region, a myriad of life science companies and research facilities are to be found here, from stem cell diagnostics, medical training devices to Germany’s first “Noah’s Ark” for plants. Unlike the international “Noah’s Ark” in Norway’s Spitsbergen where plant seeds are stored underground in the natural cold of the location, the Biosaxony project in Leipzig is a plant ‘freezer’ where the knowledge of conventional cryobanks is applied to the storage and preservation of plant diversity. Biosaxony like Silicon Saxony profi ts from the proximity of universities, research institutes and companies which are mutually benefi cial. University projects mature into products in joint ventures with companies, research institutes find practical applications for their innovations.

Tradition and innovation

This has a long tradition in Saxony. In Leipzig sports research has been to the fore for decades. Exemplified through the Institute of Applied Training Sciences Leipzig, which emerged from the Research Institute for Body Culture and Sports, and is nowadays an international centre of competence for training sciences this has also translated into the life sciences. The world leaders in cardiopulmonary exercise testing systems, Cortex, were founded in Leipzig. The technology first used for high-performance sports now fi nds its application in the field of sport and fitness but also in medicine. Similarly, the knowledge that bodily exercise needs to be dosed specifically to achieve the best results has been applied to the medical field. Computer-supported test and training devices, which use training as medicine are developed by the Biofeedback Motor Control Company, Leipzig and used throughout the world in prevention and rehabilitation. The international success of technology made in Saxony is also found in its manufacturing and metal-working industries, the two leading sectors of Saxon industry. Volkswagen, BMW and Porsche all have large plants in Saxony. Porsche produces its Cayenne and Panamera vehicles solely in Leipzig. Volkswagen has taken up the automotive tradition and chose Zwickau, the birthplace of German automotive legends such as Horch and Audi as one of its production locations. The car brand has also set a new benchmark with its glass manufactory, the Transparent Manufactory, in Dresden. Saxony has a long history of technological advances and by the looks of it will continue in this tradition.

Photo Credit: BfMC Biofeedback Motor Control GmbH

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