Smart Production Park - new center for start-ups in the southwest

Karlsruhe’s start-up scene is getting a new flagship: in April 2020, Werkstatt10, the first section of the Smart Production Park on the Hoepfner private brewery site, will be occupied. In the coming months, the start-up and growth center for the digital sector in the southwest will be completed.

“This will be the new cathedral of the Karlsruhe start-up scene,” says Matthias Hornberger, Chairman of the high-tech entrepreneur network CyberForum. The 3,800 square meters of space will provide room for 20 additional companies with a total of 200 employees. The Smart Production Park is designed as a melting pot for regional start-ups in the field of digital production. The start-up center is also the further development of the CyberLab IT accelerator operated by CyberForum. “These two facilities are a lottery win for the start-up scene,” says Hornberger. Now the Smart Production Park still needs to be filled with life.

Startups with a focus on AI, IT and smart production that have been on the market for five years can now apply here.

Focus on AI in industrial production

The new building is in a prime inner-city location and is surrounded by numerous attractive IT companies and research facilities. The 3.2 million euro building is being subsidized by the city of Karlsruhe with 2.2 million euros. The rest is contributed by the state government from the European Regional Development Fund. “Money well spent,” says Hornberger. Only by expanding the infrastructure can the start-up scene in Karlsruhe continue to grow. The Smart Production Park is operated by the CyberForum in cooperation with the Karlsruhe Economic Development Corporation. The focus of the resident companies will be the application of artificial intelligence in industrial production. “There is a lot of development potential at the interface between software and hardware,” says Hornberger. A number of lighthouse projects in Karlsruhe, such as ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH with its learning software for industrial robots, have impressively demonstrated this to date.

Ground-breaking ceremony for the Smart Production Park in September 2020 I Photo: CyberForum e.V.

Completion is planned for September 2022

The starting signal for the Smart Production Park is given when the first companies move into Werkstatt10. Innovative concepts for the digitalization of production facilities can be tested for their use in industry in the 500 square metre machine park. In the coming weeks and months, further areas of the growth center will be occupied. Completion is planned for the end of 2022. The CyberLab and Smart Production Park will then have a total of 5,400 square meters of space for the further development of start-ups.

A look behind the scenes I Photo: CyberForum e.V.

Ideal location for interdisciplinary projects

“When we started the CyberLab, most start-ups were still focusing on IT applications,” says Hornberger. By focusing on digital production, the next step is now being taken to strengthen Karlsruhe as a start-up location. Due to the high level of expertise of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HsKA) in the fields of mechanical engineering and computer science, there are numerous well-trained experts in the immediate vicinity of the new start-up center for the development of interdisciplinary applications for innovative industry. “What Karlsruhe lacks, however, is a renowned faculty for business administration,” says Matthias Hornberger. This is why the start-ups in the CyberLab and Smart Production Park are supported by experienced consultants in drawing up business plans to develop their business ideas to market maturity.