Within the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems (CAMT, Center for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies) there are more than a dozen research and teaching laboratories and, since 2008. Fraunhofer Project Center for Laser Integrated Manufacturing, which cooperates with the Fraunhofer Institute IWS in Dresden. Kretschmer met in Wroclaw with the chairman of the city council, Sergiusz Kmiecik, and the vice mayor of Wroclaw, Jakub Mazur. He was also at the Breslau Ukraine Foundation, which the Free State of Saxony supported a year ago with a donation of 100,000 euros to help Ukrainians fleeing the war to Breslau.
The idea of a European network of research centers
Michael Kretschmer is typified by many as Germany's future chancellor. A Khadek, an evangelical, he is liked by centrist and right-wing voters. Efficiently active in Lower Silesia's neighboring state of Saxony. Besides, Kretschmer himself was born in the border town of Görlitz. As he says today, the opportunity for both Saxony and Lower Silesia is to invest heavily in science and technology.
The politician recently announced that he is creating a European Silicon Valley and invites Wroclaw to participate in its creation. Silicon Valley in Saxony is based on knowledge and science and more than a dozen networked research centers. Leading scientific institutions from neighboring countries are also being drawn into the network.
Wroclaw a strong partner
Wrocław is acting, too. Less than a month ago, the Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency convinced US giant Intel to invest $4.6 billion in a new factory near Wroclaw. In the process, 2,000 jobs will be created for highly skilled engineers.
This investment is drawing attention, but it is still - in the long run - smaller than the investments of Germans in Lower Silesia. Over the past decade, companies from Germany have invested about 8 billion euros in the region. And not just to produce, but to do research.
During the meetings with Kretschmer, both sides, Polish and German, pointed to the similar location and historical conditions of Saxony and Lower Silesia. What unites us - the residents of Breslau, Dresden and Leipzig - is similar ambition and shared experiences of living in a bloc of communist states. Then these paths diverged, as Saxony benefited greatly from Germany's acceleration after reunification.
Now Lower Silesia is catching up with its western neighbor. This is best seen in the large cities of Wroclaw in Poland and Dresden and Leipzig in Saxony.
Saxony has always seen Lower Silesia as a partner, and Leipzig and Dresden as a partner in Wrocław. That's why I'm urging Breslau to take a leap forward, so that we become from regions chasing Western Europe, Asia and the US to regions driving Europe.
He adds: - We have an idea in Saxony for a Saxon Silicon Valley. We want the most advanced technology to be created here. That's how we're changing Gorlitz, which for many in Germany is simply a pretty, easternmost city. For us, on the other hand, Gorlitz is the space where CASUS operates. A state-of-the-art international research center for machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is also being built with Wroclaw universities. It's working. You can already see that innovative technologies are attracting young people, new companies.
Cooperation of scientific centers
That's why, although Kretschmer in Wroclaw met with local politicians, he spent most of his time at the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, where the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems, or Fraunhofer Research Center for short, has been operating since 2008.
The Fraunhofer Institutes, like the Max Planck Institutes, are the vanguard of German science and technological development. Basic and experimental research. Next to German universities (second only to a few British universities in Europe), they are the strongest research centers in the country on the Rhine. It is a real honor for other research centers to cooperate with them.
The center, which operates at the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, employs 67 scientists. Importantly, they work not only with partners from Germany, but also with scientists from all over the world. In 15 years, this cooperation has resulted in 30 patents.
Engineering for medicine
Of the more than a dozen ongoing projects, it is enough to point to one - technologies developed for medical engineering.The head of the Fraunhofer Center is Prof. Edward Chlebus. Today the eyes of the professor's research interests are additive, or incremental, technologies. A layman might associate them with 3D printers - there you "print layer by layer" according to a pattern designed in a program. But 3D printers make objects out of plastic. Prof. Chlebus' team, on the other hand, produces objects layer by layer, such as from metal alloys (magnesium, steel, titanium and others) and polymers.
We started 20 years ago with photoresins. Back then we were building models, learning these technologies. Today things are different.
Prof. Edward Chlebus
Further Prof. Chlebus explains: - From metallic powders or wire, we can incrementally produce objects that have a wide range of applications. Aerospace parts for helicopters or jet engine turbines are created this way. A part that once consisted of 60 components, today we create as one complete assembly. Another example: spare parts for Russian jet aircraft. After all, today these spare parts are not bought from a "Russian supplier." We create them in our laboratory. The crux of incremental technologies is the combination of lasers and powder and material technologies.
Prof. Chlebus' team, however, is particularly interested in technologies for medical engineering. Creating personalized implants made of magnesium or titanium, or frames made of titanium mesh on which the skeleton superstructures itself, encasing the implanted metal. In addition, this metal can release antibiotic or mineral substances into the body to stimulate the growth of bone structure.Today this technology is widely used during the war in Ukraine, where wounded soldiers, often just with bone damage, have such "tailor-made" implants inserted.
Investing in science is the only solution
During his talks with Lower Silesian politicians and Prof. Chlebus' team, Kretschmer intensively argued that our regions, especially Wroclaw, Leipzig and Dresden, must bet on innovative technologies. This is where we should look for opportunities for development, without sparing money.
As the politician argued, 1 euro spent on science brings 10 euros in profit. No business has such a rate of return. And bringing Intel to Wroclaw best proves that from the outside this potential for the technological hub of Lower Silesia-Saxony can be seen.