The Ministry of Economy, Labor, Energy and Transport (MWAEV) is breaking new ground in innovation promotion. With the establishment of an innovative interaction and development working place, the East Side Fab, the Ministry makes a decisive step towards developing innovative collaboration between companies from different industries. In this way, new networks in business, politics and research are to be stimulated between the actors, and cooperations and start-ups are to be promoted. On September 30th, Anke Rehlinger, Minister of Economic Affairs, opened the new East Side Fab in Saarbrücken’s Eschberger Weg.
There she said: `The East Side Fab shall be both base and hub: From here, we want to promote the development of new business ideas and sustainably strengthen the innovative capacity of the Saar economy as well as the founder scene in our country. I would be happy if this included new thinking and interdisciplinary exchange for daily business. These are important factors for a modern business location.`
Keynote speaker was the blogger, author and journalist Sascha Lobo, who, amongst others, dealt extensively with digital technologies and their impact on social development. Lobo, controversial for his clear words and extraordinary outfits, welcomed the Saarland variant of a `hub` initiative and pointed out the open and interactive way of collaboration that can take place at the East Side Fab.
The event was moderated by Prof. Dr. Mana Mojadadr, Professor of International Business Studies at htw saar. At the end of her speech, she emphasized again: `I am very happy about the opening of a future-oriented and, more than relevant, cooperative innovation platform for Saarland. In my opinion, the East Side Fab has the best potential to become an international melting pot for innovations and technologies.`
The goals are clearly defined: Shaping society and securing the future through new work, innovative product development and non-institutional education. In practical terms, this foremost means creating suitable spaces.
Space for new work
At the industrial estate Eschberger Weg in the east of Saarbrücken – hence the name `East Side Fab` – a creative and event space of approx. 300 sqm has been created. In the past, electric motors were manufactured there, now the SHS subsidiary LEG Service has been commissoned by the Ministry to assume the project management for the reassignment of the former production hall. The engineering office Funk as well as Saarbrücken-based architects blass/weber and interior designer Frank Maurer were involved.
The equipment of the East Side Fab equipment sets a focus on communication and state-of-the-art technology. The furniture also includes several seating groups (small `communication islands`) which are distributed over several places within the Fab and offer much creative scope, depending on the number of participants and type of event. Another eye-catcher is the well-equipped kitchenette by Nobilia – soon to be based in Saarlouis and renowned throughout Europe – which understands this as a supporting contribution.
A stimulating development environment for exchange, information and trying out, also in terms of craftsmanship: For it also includes a state-of-the-art makerspace – a prototype working place following `all the rules of art` – where companies can work together on new projects.
In general, this project is supported by the MWAEV. In the coming years, up to 3.1 million euros will be invested by the Ministry in the course of the entire process. The money will be invested in the equipment of the location as well as the support of the association `East Side Fab e.V.` still to be founded. Part of the funds is earmarked for the promotion of innovative projects.
Johannes Hauck, Corporate Strategy & Innovation at Hager Group, which has accompanied the project from the beginning, said: `We are pleased to be able to contribute to a very positive development in Saarland and the border region. Using our experience with similar real laboratories for the development of innovative technologies, we want to make a significant contribution to the association. `
The Fab Community is actively supported by players from the emerging new association and its cooperation partners. They all support companies in increasing their innovative capacity with a current focus on the challenges of digital transformation.
The companies currently involved: CISPA – Helmholtz-Zentrum für Informationssicherheit, Ford, Hager Group, Nano-X, OBG Engineering, Finanzgruppe Sparkassenverband Saar, thyssenkrupp System Engineering, Villeroy& Boch and Zenner International. The neighboring Zentrum für Mechatronik und Automatisierungstechnik ZeMA acts as a partner. rb