Areas of Expertise and Cluster Initiatives
The Ostwuerttemberg region is characterized both by traditional sectors (such as machine construction) and by the high-tech field (such as photonics and surface engineering). What all these sectors have in common is the high value they place on research and development, an emphasis that has made Ostwuerttemberg into the “Region for Talents and Patents.” In addition to the industry and future-technologies sectors, Ostwuerttemberg also possesses pronounced expertise in the health and service sectors, as well as in the creative and design fields. Know-how and thinking big are traits that have made Ostwuerttemberg known the world over.
The high-tech sector of photonics developed from the traditional optics sector. In “Photonic Valley” in Ostwuerttemberg (including Carl Zeiss , LOBO electronic und OSRAM), the entire value-added chain from development to production to supplier service is covered. Training courses, study programs and numerous research institutes, which are exemplary in Germany, are vital components of Photonic Valley’s achievement potential. As a contribution to the region’s development, it offers a “StarterPack Photonics,” which is of special interest to entrepreneurs.
There are more than 200 enterprises in the automotive sector that provide more than 30,000 jobs. ZF Steering Systems (Lenksysteme), the ALFING Group, Ziegler and Erhard Automotive, for example, are direct or indirect suppliers for producers of passenger cars, freight, utility and special-purpose vehicles. They represent all of the relevant leading sectors in automotive engineering and profit from the physical proximity to the important suppliers at several different tiers and to seventeen large OEMs, which are all located within a radius of a mere 200 km. The heavy supply of specialty universities and research institutions, as well as the extremely high degree of cooperativeness of the region’s enterprises, support the potential for innovation in the region.
In Ostwuerttemberg, practically all of the prevalent surface technologies for the most diverse sectors and areas of use are found under one roof: the enterprises run the gamut from jewelry production, to industrial metal and plastics processing all the way to the implementation of new technologies in energy production. A large number of these enterprises, as well as research and development institutions, plus educational institutions that provide training, all deliver internationally recognized, important contributions in the field of surface engineering. This is also apparent from the broad spectrum of enterprises that are concerned with surface engineering – a topic with great relevance for the future – and that do research and development in the region. Networking activities in the surface engineering sector have been centralized in and are being coordinated by the Surface Technology Network of the Region Ostwuerttemberg (Netzwerk Oberflaechentechnologie Region Ostwuerttemberg, NORO e.V.).
Forestry, lumber and paper
For Germany, Ostwuerttemberg has a uniquely high concentration of lumber mills. As a result of the high proportion of forest in the region, large numbers of enterprises in the forestry, lumber and paper sector have made Ostwuerttemberg their home or have a long tradition in the region. Apart from the lumber processing and woodworking, there are enterprises that have to do with the construction of machinery needed in the lumber and paper industry (for example, Leitz and SHW Casting Technologies). The paper- and packaging industries, for example, Edelmann, Papierfabrik Palm and Munksjö Decor, play an important role in the region, just as regenerative energies do. Voith AG has made a large splash in research and development with their Paper Technology Center (PTC), which is one of a kind in the world. They are also a contributing force in turning Ostwuerttemberg into "Paper Valley."
Machining, metalworking and founding
More than 400 enterprises in Ostwuerttemberg are active in the machining, metalworking and founding sector. This area of expertise unites tool manufacturers, machine manufacturers and equipment manufacturers, as well as metal-cutting technologies and founding. What these enterprises in this area of expertise all have in common is their cross-industrial application of manufacturing technologies. In addition to Aalen Univiersity, the European Research Association for Magnesium e.V. (Europäische Forschungsgemeinschaft Magnesium e.V.) and the Working Committee for Metal Founding (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Metallguss GmbH) the region also has further important research and transfer centers in the field of manufacturing technology.
Creative an design fields
The region of Ostwuerttemberg and, especially, the city of Schwaebisch Gmuend represent expertise in the creative and design fields. More than 200 design offices, with more than 1,700 employees, produce a sales volume of more than €100 million per year. The expertise present in the region is also reflected in the more than 150 design prizes (some of them international) that have been awarded in the region since 2001. Moreover, the internationally renowned University of Applied Sciences (Design) Schwaebisch Gmuend acts in the same capacity as the training workshops and schools of the jewelry and design sector by providing a comprehensive education for the coming generations of designers. The cluster for creative industry and design is rounded out by the Precious Metals Association Schwaebisch Gmuend e.V. (Edelmetallverband Schwaebisch Gmuend e.V.), which offers a platform for all enterprises working in the precious metals field.
The convenient location of Ostwuerttemberg, directly on the A7 (running north to south), as well as its direct proximity to the east-west corridor of the A8, also makes the region attractive to logistics enterprises. There are more than 400 logistics enterprises. Some of them are international shipping companies, logistics service providers, small carriers and a logistics-oriented sector of the packaging industry. Therefore, the logistical enterprises in Ostwuerttemberg cover the entire range of the value-added chain. As a result of the high concentration of industry in the region, there are also global logistics companies with a great deal of expertise in intralogistics. Aalen University and the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Heidenheim possess a great deal of logistics expertise. The Cooperative State University offers a program of study that directly addresses that topic (“Spedition, Transport und Logistik”).
The expertise of the region of Ostwuerttemberg is also detailed in the Cluster Atlas of the Federal State of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The regional cluster atlas was created by ISW Consult GbR in close cooperation with representatives from the twelve regions and the Ministry of Commerce of the State Baden-Wuerttemberg. For the very first time, it describes all the known clusters in a simple format. It also lists further subject areas that, based on the estimates of the regional representatives, show potential for development in the regional clusters.