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Research facilities in the Metropolitan Region

A good portion of the region’s innovative strength can be attributed to its outstanding local research institutes: 35 of them are headquartered here, including the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology and the Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food in Kulmbach as well as many other facilities for fundamental research and advanced technologies. The impressive performance of universities and research institutes is the focus of the Science Forum. 

The science of success


Many institutions focus on topics of international interest – from international economic relations to European studies to research and cooperation centres for Chinese and Korean studies.


Since 2007, hundreds of key figures from science, business, politics and education gather annually for the Wissenschaftstag (science day). As a scientific showcase for Northern Bavaria, it visits each of the Metropolitan Region’s university locations in turn. As Germany’s biggest popular science event, Die Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften (long night of the sciences) in Nuremberg, Fürth and Erlangen awakens the interest in science and research amongst thousands of visitors from the Metropolitan Region on a biennial basis.

Technological core competencies and interdisciplinary technologies

Fields/clusters of expertise include medicine and health, information and communication, energy and the environment, transport and logistics, automotive, new materials, and automation and production technology. Important interdisciplinary technologies include mechatronics, power electronics, optics, lasers and photonics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and biomedicine.

High regional development potential due to excellent education of the next generation of scientists

Around 9,000 university graduates and 1,500 doctoral candidates complete their university studies every year. The region boasts Germany’s greatest number of engineers and a high patent rate.


The Bavarian College of Automotive Technology provides a platform where automotive suppliers can directly collaborate with research facilities, institutes and technical colleges to develop innovative solutions, perform on-site testing and thus promote technological advances in the automotive industry.

The Bavarian College of Automotive Technology is a joint initiative of the Bavarian State Ministry of Economics, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology together with Invest in Bavaria and the Oberfrankenstiftung. The concept was developed in close collaboration with renowned automotive suppliers, institutions and scientific bodies. As partners, the administrative districts of Wunsiedel and Hof, the city of Hof, the savings banks from Wunsiedel and Hof and the LfA Förderbank Bayern (Bavarian public funding body) have a financial stake in the project.

The entity initiates co-operative research projects and provides companies with research and development facilities for specific periods of time. Suppliers are given the opportunity to test components, systems and vehicles in terms of passive safety, endurance strength, and environmental simulations with the aid of the latest high-investment test rigs.

Currently, interested companies have 3 climate chambers with the following dimensions at their disposal: 1.4 m³, 3.5 m³ and 10 m³. Seat load capacity can be tested using the new seat test robot system, OCCUBOT (made by the company KUKA). The measuring system provides six measurement dimensions for forces and torques, as well as continuous adaptation according to the degree of wear on the test object. The user is provided with data about the actual forces and torques being exerted on the contact surface between the dummy and the seat.

The acquisition of additional facilities and equipment shall be determined based on market conditions and demand.

The Bayerisches Laserzentrum (blz) in Erlangen, a non-profit research association, is one of Germany’s centers for applied laser research. It serves as an independent and application-oriented interface between fundamental research and industrial applications. Making the advantages of photonic technologies accessible to users is one of its objectives.

As a partner in innovation, the blz supports companies in developing new areas of photonic applications with a particular emphasis on laser technology, in fields like metal and plastic materials processing, electronics manufacturing or additive manufacturing.

Through countless research and development projects, the blz has acquired expertise in the field of systems engineering, which it uses to design and produce optical systems and components tailored to the needs of individual clients. As a result, the blz has developed innovative products for beam guidance and shaping in several areas, including micro and fiber optics. It has been an active testing laboratory since 2003, testing and certifying laser safety products and offering consulting services.

Many years of research led to cross-technological competences and a comprehensive know-how in the field of laser technology at the blz. The center shares this knowledge through a broad range of advanced training opportunities.

What happens inside the earth where the pressure and temperature are almost unimaginable? In simple terms, this is the basic question driving the research of 45 international researchers at the Bavarian Institute for Experimental Geochemistry and Geophysics of the University of Bayreuth, known as the Bavarian Geoinstitut (BGI).

Important research tools include super compactors, which are used in the lab to examine the properties of material under pressure and temperature conditions resembling those inside the earth. Cutting-edge micro-analytic methods, various spectroscopic procedures, and high-resolution microscopy provide new insights into the structure and composition of the earth’s interior as well as dynamic processes occurring far below the surface in the earth’s mantle and core.

These processes can have a significant impact on the environment we live in (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, deposit formation, natural concentrations of greenhouse gases, etc.). Furthermore, the institute also tackles challenges in the field of materials science, for example the development of new, superhard materials. The EU supports the BGI both in its activities as a centre for high-pressure research and as a training facility as part of the Marie Curie programme for young scientists.

The goal of the BayCEER is to support research into the sustainable use, protection and restoration of natural resources, and to improve the transfer of knowledge to users.

The emphasis is on the following fields of research:

  • Function of ecosystems
  • Biodiversity, nature and species conservation
  • Environmental pollution and remediation
  • Climatology

The BayCEER supports its members in all stages of research provided these coincide with the centre’s objectives: from the application of research proposals through conducting experiments to presenting research results to the public. Under the shared umbrella of the BayCEER, synergies between different members are fostered and reinforced. The principal services of the BayCEER play a decisive role and cover the following areas:

  • Chemical analysis
  • Isotope bio-geochemistry
  • EDP and databases
  • Supervision of test areas
  • Co-ordination and public relations

The ZWL, a centre for materials analysis, has been regionally and internationally recognised for delivering competent analysis on research and development projects as well as providing services to companies both large and small for over five years. The combination of 2 field emission scanning electron microscopes and a high-speed X-ray diffractometer allows the centre to assist almost all branches in almost any material scenario.

Detection begins at a distance of just a few nanometres. The use of cryo-transfer techniques in the scanning electron microscope permits the analysis of liquid samples, suspensions, dispersions, inorganic materials engineering solutions as well as the artifact-free representation of organic compounds. Cathodoluminescence detection solves problems affecting the development of high-tech ceramics. The ZWL maintains an extensive network of contacts to other testing laboratories, companies and university institutions to provide integrated solutions.

As publicly appointed and sworn experts, the two managing directors stand for reliability and neutrality. Through thesis projects and dissertations, the ZWL stays in touch with the latest developments and nurtures the next generation of scientists as early as secondary school.

The Coburg Design Workshop is a competence centre for design, IT and new media operating in three main areas:

  1. Leasing office space (to innovative companies).
  2. Providing contacts (through databases of designers, IT professionals and in-house organisation of networking events covering all fields).
  3. Organising in-house events and renting exhibition and event space to companies.

The Coburg Design Workshop is a competence centre and functions as a hub for everything related to design, IT and new media. In this capacity, the centre provides designers and the Coburg University of Applied Sciences  with company contacts and vice versa. Innovative companies can take advantage of the available office space and companies, institutions and designers can use the centre’s attractive event spaces for presentations, workshops and meetings. Furthermore, the centre organises trade fairs, exhibitions and other events in collaboration with companies.

The New Materials Competence Centre is a business association of the Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH and the Neue Materialien Fürth GmbH. The centre mainly provides consulting services for the manufacture, processing and application of materials and suggestions for innovative measures within companies.

As a competent and innovative research and development services provider, the New Materials Competence Centre is a reliable and trustworthy partner, from the initial idea to the industrial solution. Close interdisciplinary collaboration with universities and research facilities in the region allows for the practical application of new discoveries and developments. Research and development assignments are also carried out at facilities with industrial capacities, including small-scale series. The support of publicly funded projects in developing and managing projects complete the centre’s offer.

Main areas of expertise: Lightweight materials: development of innovative materials and processes for the manufacture of lightweight components using metals, synthetic materials and composite materials, e.g. for transport and mechanical engineering. Multifunctional materials: development of processing techniques and materials with a diversified profile of properties allowing for the integration of different functionalities into components. Examples include polymers and ceramics functionalised with (nano) bulking agents or piezo ceramic-polymer composites for sensor and actuation systems.

The European Center for Power Electronics (ECPE) e.V. is an industry-oriented research network for power electronics in Europe. The ECPE’s activities focus on research, education and training, and public relations in the field of power electronics.

The ECPE was founded in 2003 as an industry-oriented research network at the initiative of leading companies in the power electronics sector. The network currently has 21 industrial members and leading European technical colleges and research institutes form part of the network as competence centres (approx. 30 centres at this time).

The main goal of the ECPE is to foster research, development, innovation, education and training, public relations and technological knowledge transfer in the field of power electronics in Europe.

  • Pre-competitive research in the field of power electronics on a European level in collaboration with research institutes and universities.
  • Promotion of education and training for students and working engineers, adapted to the demands of future technologies and transmitted through modern media.
  • Public relations and lobbying for the sector and emphasising its significance for Europe as a whole, e.g. by tying power electronics into European funding programmes.

The Fraunhofer Centre for X-ray Technology Development, a shared facility of the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken and Dresden and the Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, works in four main areas: X-ray sensor systems, computer tomography, image data processing and applications. The centre provides research and development of new testing applications, complete X-ray inspection system prototypes with automatic analysis as well as the development of individual components for non-destructive X-ray testing methods. The scientists working at the Fraunhofer EZRT cover all areas, from image data acquisition (sensor systems) through 2D and 3D computer tomography to fully automated analysis.

The Fraunhofer Centre for High-temperature Lightweight Construction HTL based in Bayreuth offers application-related R&D for materials, which are being utilized or produced at high temperatures: ceramic matrix composites (CMC), ceramic fibers and high performance ceramics.

The centre started at the beginning of 2012 and pools all activities in ceramics of the Fraunhofer ISC. For that purpose Bayreuth’s project group “Composite Ceramic Structures” and Würzburg’s ceramic workgroups are merged organisationally.

The project group was founded in 2006 as a strategic co-operation between the ISC and the department of Ceramic Materials Engineering at the University of Bayreuth – sponsored by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology.

HTL includes three workgroups:

  • CMC structures  
  • Polymer ceramics
  • High-temperature design

With more than 30 employees. With its bases at Bayreuth und Würzburg the HTL is equipped with 2.450 m2 valuable area for labour and technical purposes and latest technology. It is available for development projects and R&D services.

The research and development activities of the Fraunhofer IISB / ZKLM focus on power electronics system components for the vehicles of tomorrow, particularly environmentally friendly cars. Tower electronics and electrical drive engineering are the key to more efficient use of energy and consequently to increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Furthermore, power electronics and electrical drive engineering can also reduce maintenance needs, environmental hazards, and waste disposal issues through, for example, the replacement of hydraulic systems.

The ZKLM’s areas of expertise include mechatronic system integration of power electronics, highly efficient and compact electrical energy converters, the use of new materials for passive components and heat dissipation, thermal management on the component and system level, reliability studies, and structural and joining technologies resistant to load alternation. The ZKLM in Nuremberg is a branch of the Fraunhofer-Institut für Integrierte Systeme und Bauelementetechnologie (IISB) with headquarters in Erlangen.

As a branch of Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT, Fraunhofer UMSICHT-ATZ develops processes and materials for decentralised energy production using biomass and waste, from the concept stage to pilot facilities. Existing since 1990, the former ATZ Development Center has been a member of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft since July 2012.

Being a non-university development center based in metropolitan region’s Sulzbach-Rosenberg, it achieves annual sales of 4.5 million Euros. 45 employees, primarily engineers, work at Fraunhofer UMSICHT-ATZ.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT at Oberhausen was also founded in 1990 and develops technical innovations at various engineering disciplines: environment, materials, energy and process engineering. The institute focuses itself on sustained economic growth, environmentally compatible technologies and progressive behaviour in order to improve human’s quality of living and promote economic’s innovation capacity.

Founded in 1985, the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (IIS) with headquarters in Erlangen and additional facilities in Nuremberg, Fürth and Dresden is currently the largest Fraunhofer institute within the organisation. The Fraunhofer IIS gained international recognition for developing the MP3 audio encoding format. The Fraunhofer IIS develops software, micro-electronic circuits, devices and systems as well as turnkey industrial facilities for IT and communication technology applications.

The institute’s main areas of research include audio and video encoding and international standardisation, multimedia real-time systems, integrated circuits and sensor systems, low power circuits for battery operated terminals, high-frequency circuits, digital broadcasting systems for telecommunications, localisation technology and navigation, quality assurance through automatic image recognition, ultra-fine focus X-ray technology, image sensor systems, high-speed camera systems and digital cinema and healthcare telematics.

The project groups for optical communication technology, network access technology, inter-operational systems, and ultra-fine focus X-ray technology were established in the region as part of Bavaria’s “high-tech offensive”. At the facilities in Erlangen, Nuremberg, Fürth (405) and Dresden (65), a total of 470 staff members work on research and development projects for clients in the industrial and public sectors.

The EAS (design automation) branch in Dresden develops tools to complement commercial design systems. The facility has gained a respected position within the German CAD sector. The Fraunhofer working group for technologies in the logistics services sector ATL in Nuremberg develops innovative solutions for passenger, freight and information transport by combining logistics and communication technology.

The Fraunhofer-Institute for Integrated Systems and Component Technology (IISB) works in close collaboration with industrial partners to develop new materials, processes, components and equipment for micro- and nanoelectronics.

The scope of the institute’s covers all aspects of front-end semiconductor processing, optimisation of production processes and devices, comprehensive analytics and characterisation, simulation of components and processes as well as crystal growth to obtain semiconductor and optical materials. Another important aspect concerns power electronics and mechatronics, particularly for the automotive industry.

Founded in 1985, the IISB has its headquarters in Erlangen and currently employs 110 staff members. In 2004, the institute joined forces with the Zentrum für Kfz-Leistungselektronik und Mechatronik (Centre for Motor Vehicle Power Electronics and Mechatronics or ZKLM) to provide a Nuremberg branch as a local point of contact for the important power electronics and automotive supplier industry in the Metropolitan Region. The Technologiezentrum Halbleitermaterialien (Semiconductor Technology Centre or THM), another branch of the IISB, has been located in Freiberg (Saxony) since 2005.

The Fraunhofer-Institute for Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) develops materials for energy technology, aerospace, microsystems technology, medicine and biotechnology as well as for functionalising surfaces of all kinds. The institute works with glass and ceramics, new silicate-like materials and inorganic and organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®). The development of materials, as well as the optimisation of material properties, is based on a variety of nanochemical procedures, simulation techniques and innovative process technologies.

In addition to consulting services, research and development, the Fraunhofer ISC constructs testing instruments and special equipment. An analysis centre accredited under DIN EN ISO / IEC 170 25 is available to clients. The centre advises clients on the most appropriate analytical methods, carries out inspections and provides assistance in interpreting the results. With over 50 established analytical procedures, it is the most modern centre for materials analysis in Lower Franconia.

The Fraunhofer ISC works in the following fields: Surface engineering, functional coatings; energy technology and adaptronics; glass and ceramic components and processes; microsystems and mobile power supply; life science

The combination of the latest, scientific research and field-tested, technical engineering concepts produces innovative solutions for logistics and supply chain services. For more than 14 years, the Fraunhofer Working Group for Supply Chain Services has been providing the aforementioned synergetic combination to clients in industry, services and public institutions.

Innovative processes have greatly improved the competitive advantages of large automotive corporations. Based on this fact, these potential savings and enhancements should also be made accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Fraunhofer project group’s goal and stated mission is to achieve similar improvements in terms of productivity, flexibility, quality, supply capacity and cost for mid-level producers in eastern Bavaria by using proven methodology. With regard to this target group, it is necessary to develop modular solutions that do not result in excessively complex organisational structures, but rather provide streamlined and easily implemented methods.

Combining the resources of the Fraunhofer Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung (Institute for Production Technology and Automation or IPA) in Stuttgart with those of the University of Bayreuth has resulted in systematic expansion of the group’s competence profile and the list of services it provides.

The Institute for Job Market and Occupational Research conducts labour market and employment research in order to provide competent advice to political entities at all levels. The institute’s organisational proximity to the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) makes it possible for scientific knowledge to flow directly into shaping political opinion as well as actions affecting the labour market. The freedom to research and publish without interference guarantees independent and, if necessary, critical advice.

The IAB was founded in 1967 as a research institute of the former Bundesanstalt für Arbeit (Federal Labour Agency). The legislature’s mandate for the IAB is to conduct labour market research from a multidisciplinary standpoint in order to understand the labour market better and develop effective solutions. Therefore, the IAB’s study of the labour market is not exclusively economic in nature: the number of social and government influences involved make a comprehensive economic approach necessary.

For example, the institute develops projections, political simulations, international and regional comparisons, sector and company analyses and evaluations of labour market policy programmes. The IAB also compiles, optimises and organises data for a scientific user group that extends far beyond the IAB.

The Leibniz Association at the Germanic National Museum is an internationally renowned research institution. It is a member of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft (WGL), a coalition of non-university research institutes of national importance. As the largest cultural history museum in Germany, the Germanic National Museum examines cultural, artistic and historical evidence from the German-speaking world, from its origins to the present.

The library of the Germanic National Museum contains 600,000 volumes dealing with the cultural history of the German-speaking world, amongst them such valuable items as the Ottonian Codex Aureus and other priceless texts. The fine arts archive collects written materials from the estates of German painters, sculptors, architects, art dealers, art collectors, and art historians. Furthermore, the GNM provides researchers from around the world with access to its historical archive, the German bell archive, a coin collection and an important graphic arts collection. The Institut für Kunsttechnik und Konservierung, the art restoration department of the GNM, is one of the largest facilities of its kind. The institute is responsible for maintaining the museum’s exhibits, but also carries out independent research projects.

The MPL focuses on the fundamental phenomena of light and the underlying principles of optical technologies. The institute’s groundwork creates new ways of information processing and data traffic using laser beams as well as innovative possibilities for highly sensitive measurement and diagnostic procedures in medicine and materials processing.

Two departments conduct research in the following fields:

  • Quantum information and optical communication, photon and atom coupling in free space, polarisation optics, interaction of light with nano-objects, optical measuring technology (Prof. Leuchs)
  • Photonic crystal fibres - manufacture and application, laser-induced particle motion in hollow-core fibres, metal and semiconductor nano-wires, light frequency conversion (Prof. Russell)

The research group was designed to operate for a period of five years and was divided into three departments. At the end of that period, the MPL (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light) was created from two of the original departments. The institute maintains its close working relationship with the university. Following a four-year expansion period, the institute will feature four departments. A total of 111 positions is planned for the institute, including around 44 positions for scientific collaborators.

The Kulmbach facility of the Max Rubner Institute – a federal research institute for nutrition and food – pursues research projects in the areas of consumer protection, food safety and quality, and broadens the scope of knowledge in these fields.

The institute’s research contributes to the quality of German meat production, ensuring the population’s access to nutritional and delicious meat products that are largely free of micro-organisms and keep the level of undesired substances and harmful residues to the absolute minimum.

The research also covers slaughterhouse fats, poultry and eggs. The institute mainly advises federal departments and other agencies as well as consumers. The production methods of companies that process and supply meat are lent scientific support with a view to rigorously guaranteeing the highest product quality.

The impressive performance of universities and research institutes is the focus of the Science Forum. 

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