Research & development Aug 26, 2019

Makerspaces in Bavaria: where ideas turn into companies

Anyone daring to take the step into the free economy must ask themselves one thing above all else: Can my product keep up with the rapid pace at which technology and business are evolving in the age of digitalisation? Young entrepreneurs can get assistance in finding this out in Bavaria’s makerspaces. Both experienced professionals and ambitious visionaries develop and test out innovative technologies here. This article reveals how these kinds of test laboratories are revolutionising the economy and where to find them in Bavaria.

“Makerspaces” is literally what it says “a space for makers”. In other words: a place where people create and invent things together. In today's economy, the term stands for places where company founders – but also some already established enterprises – test their ideas by working together and with the help of the very latest technologies and transform them into a sound business concept. Makerspaces provide the ideal conditions for young start-ups and industry to do this.

Biopark in Regensburg

The Biopark provides just under 20,000 square metres of office and laboratory space including technical equipment and services on the University of Regensburg campus. These makerspaces are particularly suitable for medical researchers, who would like to develop business idea in Bavaria. All the on-site laboratories comply with S1 and S2 safety level standards. In addition to the individual offices, conference rooms or an auditorium can also be rented for larger events. There are currently 38 tenants based here with a total of more than 600 employees, who benefit from an excellent infrastructure around the workplace. These include:

•    Childcare facilities
•    Direct link to the motorway
•    Intense exchange with academic faculties

Evanium Healthcare GmbH is currently developing a drug at Biopark that is intended to reduce the damaging effects of alcohol consumption. In cooperation with the University of Regensburg, the young start-up company identified an active substance in 2019 that can specifically modulate ethanol-sensitive receptors. On the strength of this, Evanium Healthcare carried out further measurements at the University Hospital Würzburg, which already substantiated the alcohol-antagonistic effect of the substance in the cell experiment. 

Augsburg Innovationspark 

Under the slogan “Paradise for researchers instead of leased buildings”, the Augsburg Innovationspark set itself the task of sustainably supporting start-ups from the industry 4.0 and resource efficiency sectors in Bavaria. This is the right place for start-ups that want to promote inventions in the following industries:

•    Composite fibres and lightweight construction
•    Mechatronics and automation
•    Information technologies
•    Embedded systems
•    Environmental technology

The start-up centre that focuses on digital technologies helps innovative entrepreneurs in Bavaria transform their research results into marketable products. The following equipment is available, for example:

•    Routes for additional pipelines
•    Air intake ducts
•    Autoclave connection

Communication both within the teams and with customers should also run as fast and simply as possible. Professional facility management as well as the regional resource efficiency network ensure this is the case.

brigk Makerspace in Ingolstadt 

A makerspace is also based at the brigk start-up centre in Ingolstadt, which sees itself as a space for creativity, meetings, a laboratory, workshop and playground in one. Artists, craftspeople or technical experts can equally things moving here. The service package includes 24-hour access to the following work areas:

•    Wood processing: sawing, drilling, planing, grinding
•    Metalworking: cutting, welding, milling, bending
•    lectronics: soldering, wiring, coding
•    Rapid prototyping: laser cutting, scanning and devices for the future technology 3D printing 
•    Textile processing: sewing, embroidery, leatherwork

Rooms can be rented here per day, month or year, depending on requirements. Tenants can also choose between basic and advanced price categories, depending on which machinery they want to use. Thanks to its flexible tariff packages, the brigk Makerspace is therefore particularly suitable to support ambitious start-up entrepreneurs in Bavaria, who don’t have much capital at their disposal.

ZDI Mainfranken

The Bavarian “Cube” makerspace at the Zentrum für digitale Innovationen (ZDI) Mainfranken fficially opened its doors on 9 May 2018. As the name already reveals, this is a square building with various rooms inside:

•    Prototype workshops
•    Start-up offices
•    Co-working areas
•    Lounges and communication rooms

The Cube project is also to advance also Würzburg’s development as a “smart city”. The project partners include:

•    University of Würzburg
•    University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt
•    IHK Würzburg-Schweinfurt
•    Region Mainfranken GmbH

Makerspaces in München

There are test laboratories at four different locations in the vicinity of the Bavarian capital, which invite start-ups to experiment.

The UnternehmerTUM makerspace in Garching

Similarly to the brigk Makerspace in Ingolstadt, the MakerSpace high-tech workshop in Garching near Munich addresses both young and experienced entrepreneurs. The test laboratory is involved in numerous projects initiated by the Centre for Innovation and Business Creation at the Technical University of Munich, generally known as UnternehmerTUM. UnternehmerTUM has set itself the goal of supporting innovative start-ups with an all-round service for the development of products, services and business models. As the largest European start-up laboratory with public access, the Garching makerspace provides an interactive network for “inventors and researchers, beginners and professionals, start-ups and industry” in Bavaria. Various work areas are available over a total area of 1,500 sqm, including:

•    Mechanical engineering
•    Metal, wood and textile processing
•    Electronics

At the same time, members have access to equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters or a waterjet cutting machine. What’s more, they can participate in special training sessions or make use of consultation meetings.

Innovation and Start-up Centre for Biotechnology

As a subsidiary of the Free State, the Innovation and Start-up Centre for Biotechnology (IZB) aims to promote the interdisciplinary field of Life Sciences in Bayern zu fördern. Dafür hat das IZB Räumlichkeiten eingerichtet, die exakt auf die Anforderungen von Biotech-Start-ups zugeschnitten sind. Insgesamt umfasst die Biotechnologie sämtliche Disziplinen, die lebende Organismen erforschen und aus gewonnen Erkenntnissen neue Produkte und Dienstleistungen entwickeln. Zu diesem Zweck bietet das IZB seinen Mietern Unterstützung für folgende Herausforderungen:

•    Project financing
•    Business management
•    Search for cooperation partners
•    Scientific networking
•    Trade fair events
•    Marketing campaigns

The Bavarian makerspace is also located in close proximity to renowned research institutions for biotechnology. These include the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry and Neurobiology on the Martinsried Campus as well as the Faculty for Biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU)

Ludwig Bölkow Campus

In the municipality of Taufkirchen, just under 30 km away from Munich airport, is the Ludwig-Bölkow-Campus (LBC). Chairs from different universities work together there with industrial partners to provide interdisciplinary research facilities. These include, for example:

•    Advanced ALM Lab: The Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) discipline deals with a digital application’s entire lifecycle. Based on this approach, the ALM lab promotes the development of products such as rocket engines or components for commercial aircraft. 
•    System Lab: The infrastructure of the future is created in this lab. The focus is on system design, simulation, integration and tests for new technologies within the fixed and rotary wing segment. 
•    Algae pilot plant: This is an innovative greenhouse in which researchers can carry out feasibility studies for algae processes in relation to different climate zones, algae strains and cultivation technologies for the first time.

Information Security Hub

The centre of excellence against cyber crime, the so-called Information Security Hub, has been located at Munich airport since January 2018. Private companies and national authorities can train or further educate security experts in this ultramodern test lab. New technologies and processes can also be tested here. The centre is made up of a total of eight areas:

1.    Training room and laboratory for operational technology
2.    Training room for office IT
3.    Catering areas, which are also used as a test environment for till systems
4.    Design thinking lab
5.    Control centre
6.    Tower, in which the direction & management takes place for training and events
7.    Amphitheatre as a central meeting room
8.    Executive briefing centre

Promoting start-ups and investing in Bavaria’s future

As this article shows, there are a multitude of makerspaces that promote scientific and economic progress in Bavaria across its various government districts. The advantages that result from such offers for start-ups can be summarised as follows:

•    Technical equipment: Anyone renting a makerspace, saves on expensive investments in technical equipment. Depending on which industry a test laboratory is set up for, the rent already contains the use of special machinery and equipment. 
•    Services: Besides the working areas, Bavaria’s centres to promote start-ups also provide an extensive package of services to actively support their tenants with their projects. 
•    Infrastructure: Bavarian makerspaces aim to intensively network start-ups with regional contact points. These include scientific departments at universities as well as potential business partners and customers. The large range of co-working offices on offer in Bavaria also contributes to this.