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Zeiss to build €30M Karlsruhe hub

26 Sep 2017

12,000m2 innovation center to forge closer links between academia and industry, and provide a new home for photonics spin-out Nanoscribe.

Optics giant Zeiss is investing in a new €30 million innovation hub to be built at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany.

Local companies including the high-precision 3D lithography specialist Nanoscribe are expected to be among those to benefit from additional space and a closer collaboration between industry and academia, once the site becomes operational late in 2019.

Construction of the 12,000 m site is expected to start early next year, with Zeiss saying that it wants the hub to house high-tech and digital start-ups, as well as its own innovation and new business activities.

New home for Nanoscribe
“At the Zeiss Innovation Hub, KIT will be able to lease a portion of the space for its own carve-outs and innovation activities,” announced the Jena-headquartered company.

“This collaboration between KIT and Zeiss is based on solid foundations as the hub will also be home to Nanoscribe.”

Spun out from KIT a decade ago, with Zeiss a major shareholder, Nanoscribe has developed an approach to laser lithography technology that has set new standards for speed and precision in microfabrication. Back in 2014, its “Photonic Professional GT” machine won a Prism Award in the “advanced manufacturing” category.

The spin-out’s founder and CEO Martin Hermatschweiler said that the Zeiss investment would unite Nanoscribe’s various operations – currently split up across multiple sites – into a single location.

“This ensemble of inspiring architecture, close links to KIT, and networking in the hub will continue to drive our innovation culture,” he added.

“The project and the opportunities for growth it affords us are a symbol of the excellent and lasting support that Zeiss is showing us as one of our stakeholders, and that we’re receiving from KIT, too.”

Zeiss CEO Michael Kaschke stated: “We look forward to opening a site in the new location of Karlsruhe. This new concept means the Zeiss Innovation Hub at KIT will become a shared center for science, start-ups and leading technology companies. Everyone will benefit from this unique combination of physical and thematic proximity.”

Other KIT expertise in optics and photonics includes teams working on 3D printing of glass, and ultrafast electro-optic modulators.

Science and industry
The development has also been welcomed by local government in the south-western region of Germany, with a statement from Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts reading:

“The Ministries of Science and Finance are delighted at the willingness shown by Zeiss to construct an incubator building on KIT’s north campus. Such a long-term partnership will benefit partners from science and industry.”

Although the specific details of the collaboration agreement between KIT and Zeiss are still being finalized, the relationship is expected to cover work in research, teaching and innovation, as well as in internationalization, plus careers advice and “dialog with society”.

“The focus will be on topics such as machine learning and computer vision applications,” said the two partner organizations.

Nanoscribe video:

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