European XFEL-Wissenschaftler Maurizio Vannoni prüft den neuen Röntgenspiegel, dessen Oberfläche nicht mehr als einen milliardstel Meter von der Idealform abweicht. © European XFEL

Hamburg on course to become one of Europe's most innovative cities

Hanse city expanding as an internationally successful centre of research and development

Pioneering ideas have always changed the world. Yet even clever minds need an environment in which to develop and implement such concepts. Hamburg offers the best conditions for such endeavours. Innovations and the resulting jobs form the basis for economic growth and science in Hamburg so much so that the city is on course to become one of the most innovative locations in Europe. Frank Horch, Senator for Economics, Traffic and Innovation, noted: “The city will only remain forward-looking, if we can concentrate creativity and the exchange between commerce science here and advance it also.” To this end, many important foundation stones are being laid in 2017.

European XFEL – research facility of superlatives

This year will see a research facility of superlatives open in Hamburg with the European XFEL which can generate ultra short X-ray flashes – 27,000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources. The 3.4-km long underground X-ray laser, built at a cost of EUR 1.5 billion, extends from the DESY site in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld to Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein and opens up entirely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users. Particular research emphasis is placed on how complex biomolecules or materials are assembled on the atomic scale. Using the X-ray flashes of the European XFEL, scientists can take three-dimensional images of the nanoworld, film chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. Research at the European XFEL will thus enable a better understanding of chemical processes to develop more efficient industrial production. Such studies also provide an essential basis for the development of new medicines.

Research will also lead to improved understanding of chemical processes to develop more efficient production procedures. Around eleven countries are taking part in XFEL. Germany (the government, and the states of Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein) are footing 58 per cent of the construction costs, Russia is paying 27 per cent and other international partners between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.

German government support

The German government is putting additional funds towards research facilities in the city and the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. Apart from funds already paid by the city, around EUR 9 million will go towards the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and EUR 3 million towards setting up the Germany Maritime Research Centre (DMFZ) as agreed in November during a budget settlement meeting of the German Bundestag. Basic funding for the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is to be raised by EUR 60 million allowing it to expand and conduct research in new fields that may also benefit Hamburg. The city is already holding intense talks about admitting intistituions specialising in nanoresearch and 3D print in Hamburg to the Frauenhofer Gesellschaft.

Fraunhofer expanding across Hamburg

The Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Service (CML) and the Fraunhofer IME ScreeningPort (IME-SP), which emerged from the European Screening Port GmbH, are already based in Hamburg. Last November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology set up a department to build a large test stand for blade bearings of wind turbines at the Technologiezentrum Energie-Campus Bergedorf at the University of Applied Sciences (HAW) in co-operation with the Competence Center für Erneuerbare Energien und Energieeffizienz (CC4E). The aim is to increase the reliability and life span of wind turbines, secure the production of pitch bearings and use new technologies. Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science and Research and Equality, said: “Hamburg is already among Germany’s leading wind energy research centres. The famous Fraunhofer IWES is now launching a department in Hamburg and will boost the entire sector here.”

North German innovation alliance “Innovation Alliance for the Project of the Century”

The Federal Ministry of Economics is putting some EUR 41 million in funds towards the north German energy transition project called NEW 4.0 involving the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg and 60 partners in commerce, industry and research. The project will serve as a model region that is fully supplied with regenerative energy by 2035. The 60 regional and supraregional partners form the so-called “Innovation Alliance for the Project of the Century” which pools technological know-how and is backed by both states’ governments. NEW 4.0 is adapting a double strategy to tackle the main challenges of the energy transition – increasing the export of electricity to other regions and expanding the energy infrastructure efficiently as well as raising the use of energy exploitation quotas for regional and regenerative production potential.

Project for North Sea region

The EU Northern Connections project aims to create framework conditions and models of sustainable energy projects throughout the entire EU-North Sea region. The Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster and 20 partners bordering the North Sea including Britain, Germany and Norway have agreed to create a platform for SME innovation partnerships in sustainable energy systems by 2020. The project is being funded with EUR 5.3 million from the EU-INTERREG North-Sea programme and is led by Aalborg in Denmark

Hamburg promotes future-oriented technology

Hamburg is also eying other future-oriented technology. The city and the University of Hamburg and reputable industrial companies have formed the Center for Applied Nanotechnology (CAN) which is considered vital for the 21st century. CAN GmbH is a technology service provider that promotes the use of new findings in chemical nanotechnology and nano analysis for companies and research facilities in Germany and abroad. CAN GmbH works independently, but is tightly integrated into a large network of internationally renowned scientists from the nanosciences, nanotechnology and life sciences.

The Laser Zentrum Nord (LZN) does application-oriented research and development in laser technology backed by the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) to speed up the transfer of knowledge to practical areas. ZAL focuses on six research themes called “Technical Domains” including cabins, 3D print, Industry 4.0, acoustics and virtual reality. The research centre is a joint project run by the city of Hamburg, Airbus and Lufthansa Technik. It has received a total investment of EUR 100,000 and will provide 600 jobs on a 28,000 square metre area.

Hamburg’s innovative start-up scene

The Hamburg Innovation Summit (HHIS), a platform for new technologies and innovation, has been set up under the auspices of Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg and Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science. The second edition held in May 2016 illustrated just how close Hamburg’s start-up scene is to the pulse of the times. The platform for new technologies and innovations brings together creative minds, founders and shapers of the future from commerce, politics and science. Young entrepreneurs and IT experts presented their start-ups in virtual reality, e-health, smart tech, 3D printing, FinTech and new mobility.

The Hamburg Startups team, led by Sina Gritzuhn and Sanja Stankovic, is committed to raising the visibility of young companies in Hamburg through networking. To this end, they have set up events such as Startups@Reeperbahn Pitch and Hamburg Startups Mixer. Their platform, Hamburg Startup Monitor, gives an overview of 600 start-ups to heighten the perception of Hamburg as a centre for founders and of entrepreneurial spirit. NEXTMEDIA.Hamburg, the city’s joint initiative for the media and digital industry promotes the innovative start-up scene and acts as a point of contact for issues in reference to the digital economy. Many Hamburg-based start-ups are already pioneers of virtual reality technology. Apart from the goal of becoming one of Europe’s most innovative cities, the Hanse city is well underway to solidifying its renown as a German start-up centre.

Sources and further information:

Sea also the following reports in Hamburg News:
Review and outlook – Hamburg well placed in 2017
Hamburg to become headquarters of German maritime research
Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology moving to Hamburg
Hamburg innovation summit to begin in late May

Hamburg's research landscape - a breeding ground for ideas

The transfer between forward-oriented knowledge and commerce secures innovation in key technologies. Universities stand for this internationality. The latest official figures show that Hamburg is certainly attractive to foreign students. During the winter semester 2015/2016, over 2,461 international first-year students enrolled at a state college or university in Hamburg. A total of 10,958 students (an increase of 252 over the previous year) from all over the world attended a third level institution during the same period.

Apart from the University of Hamburg with 90 first-year students, other colleges and universities include the HafenCity University, the University of Applied Sciences (HAW), the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) and the die Kühle Logistcs University.

Research institutes in Hamburg often function as innovative incubators and include world famous institutions such as the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) Center for Hybrid Nanostructures at the University of Hamburg, the Max-Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.

The Laserzentrum Nord (LZN) is a world leader in 3D technology. The CFK Valley in Stade is world-renowned and is the seat of around 100 companies and research institutions that work on new processes, procedures and production methods in composite lightweight construction especially for aviation. The Centre for Applied Aviation Research (ZAL) is the think thank in aviation and an interface between science and commerce.

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