We’ve already explained why Berlin is a city to watch for up-and-coming tech companies, but Germany as a whole might be a country to give inspiration to NYC’s manufacturing sector. In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal highlighted how Germany’s Fraunhofer institutes are the being emulated in President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation plan.
The sixty-six independent research institutes are spread throughout Germany and focus on different areas of applied science. The Fraunhofer Society’s funding model is based on a significant portion of its funding coming from government commissions and grants. This enables the institutes to hire some of the best talent while also giving back to the country’s economy and keeping it at the cutting edge – Frauhnhofer is the key innovation network for applied science and advanced manufacturing in the country. According to the Wall Street Journal “The deep scientific knowledge that Fraunhofer has accrued over the years has kept a number of small and medium-size companies competitive and producing in Germany.”
Key takeaways for NYC:
- By partnering tightly with Germany’s mid-sized corporations (Mittelstand) the mostly government funded Fraunhofer Institute brings innovative technologies quickly into the industry. NYC and other US institutions would benefit from such a public-private partnership.
- Fraunhofer employees are encouraged to take what the institutes learn and start their own companies with that knowledge – this give/take approach is a big draw for talent and something US companies should emulate in order to encourage new ideas and creativity among employees.
- Having all the research localized keeps much of the manufacturing local as well, which drives innovation as well as aids the economy.
The success of the Fraunhofer institutes is just one example of why NYC should always be looking outward for which countries and cities are “doing it right.” Transatlantic partnerships that encourage knowledge sharing will only be a boon to the cities involved. One way New York International is working toward this with the Transatlantic Entrepreneur Partnership which partners the cities of Berlin and New York City for shared innovation, insights, and policy recommendations.
Another way in which NYC is sourcing global ideas and driving innovation in the city is through programs such as the World to NYC – Global Industry Challenge which convenes leaders in an industry from around the world and encourages some of the top international companies in that industry to open a location in NYC. The topics of applied science and urban manufacturing will only increase in importance as we see a move toward more sustainable small-scale approaches to manufacturing.