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“Lighthouse” project in Stuttgart for sustainable automobile manufacture and the production world of the future: Foundation stone ceremoniously laid for the ARENA2036 research factory

On 8 October 2015 the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the new ARENA2036 research factory for the automobile of the future at the University of Stuttgart was attended by over 200 high-calibre guests from the scientific community, industry and politics on the university campus in Vaihingen. In their speeches at the ceremony Dr … Continued

On 8 October 2015 the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the new ARENA2036 research factory for the automobile of the future at the University of Stuttgart was attended by over 200 high-calibre guests from the scientific community, industry and politics on the university campus in Vaihingen.

In their speeches at the ceremony Dr Nils Schmid MdL, deputy minister-president of Baden-Württemberg and minister for finance and industry, and Theresia Bauer, minister for science, research and the arts, described the undertaking as a “lighthouse project for the state of Baden-Württemberg” and an “outstanding model for effective technology transfer”.

The research facility will create up to 160 jobs for extremely highly qualified scientists conducting research into flexible production technology and lightweight composite fibre construction in the series production of automobiles. Partners from the sciences and industry will work together under one roof with financial and political support from the federal government and the state of Baden-Württemberg. The aim is to realise innovative production models and systems which are both competitive and efficient in their use of resources by the year 2036 – the 150th anniversary of the automobile . The investment in the research factory amounts to approx. € 27 mill., and is being funded by the University of Stuttgart and the state Baden-Württemberg.

The director of real estate and construction for Baden-Württemberg, Ms Annette Ipach-Öhmann, welcomed the guests from politics, science and industry and declared the laying of the foundation stone as the official start of construction for the “Factory of the Future”. She continued as follows: “The new factory with workshops, laboratories and offices and a usable area of around 6500 square metres will allow direct cooperation between the sciences and industry under a single roof, emphasising the beacon-like function of this research project with its innovative architectural and technical concept. The aim of the ARENA2036 research campus is to conduct basic and applied research to shape the future of the automobile, and safeguard the industry’s innovative strength and competitiveness in Baden-Württemberg.”

Support from the state of Baden-Württemberg

In his speech to the guests, the deputy minister-president of Baden-Württemberg and minister for finance and industry, Nils Schmid, said: “The newly constructed research factory will combine academic research and practical industrial know-how under one roof. ARENA2036 will not only create a further, important area of cooperation between science and industry in our state, but also act as a beacon proclaiming Baden-Württemberg as a centre for future-oriented automobile engineering. The focus will be on areas of innovation such as Industry 4.0 and lightweight construction. In this way the ARENA2036 research campus will open up profitable potentials for the University of Stuttgart, for the region and for the state of Baden-Württemberg.”

Minister for research Theresia Bauer emphasised the following in her speech: “ARENA2036 shows how science and industry can come together in this impending age of digitised production. Production lines will be replaced by flexible interaction between man and machine – with ARENA2036, Baden-Württemberg is firmly establishing itself among the most innovative regions of Europe.”

Podium discussion

The foundation ceremony was followed by a podium discussion: “Can we revolutionise the key automobile and machine tool industries with ARENA2036?”. Apart from ministers Nils Schmid and Theresia Bauer, the following people took part in the discussion: Prof. Wolfram Ressel (Dean of the University of Stuttgart), Andreas Friedrich, (Head of the Technology Factory, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler AG), Klaus Hamacher (Deputy Chairman of the German Centre for Aerospace), Sven Hamann (Head of the central department for research and pre-development of production technology, Bosch GmbH) and Peter Froeschle (Chairman of ARENA2036), who moderated the discussion.

In his introductory remarks, Fröschle emphasised that with this futuristic undertaking the ARENA2036 partners are starting a new era in research partnership: “Basic research scientists will put their heads together under one roof with applied research scientists from the University of Stuttgart, external research institutes and industry to follow a common strategic path from the research stage to the finished product.”

The basic message during the discussion was that the development of a sustainable Industry 4.0 would allow individual mobility with a low energy consumption in the future. The future of automobile production will be realised with flexible and intelligent forms of production and multi-material lightweight construction with integrated functions. The ambitioous ARENA2036 research programme will also make a major contribution to the competitiveness of Baden-Württemberg as a centre of automobile production.

Prof. Wolfram Ressel emphasised the exemplary nature of this cooperation between science and industry: “This cooperative research campus is characterised by its future-oriented research areas and the inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional approach. The joint project work will help to strengthen Stuttgart as a scientific region, and achieve the optimum transfer of research findings into industrial innovations.”

Andreas Friedrich said: “Our current research vehicles provide an outlook on what will characterise a car in the year 2036: individuality, intelligence, lightweight construction, sustainability, safety and comfort. We will only be able to reconcile the resulting, sometimes contradictory requirements if we take a comprehensive and inter-disciplinary approach. Moreover, the individualisation of vehicles is set to continue, and the volatility of the markets will increase. Accordingly we need production concepts which are highly modular and flexible. There are plenty of areas where ARENA2036 can conduct research and testing under one roof with universities, research facilities and other manufacturers and suppliers in a pre-competitive environment.”

Klaus Hamacher said: “DLR is a founder member of ARENA2036, and with its institutes for vehicle concepts, construction and structural technology it contributes expertise in the areas of vehicle design, lightweight construction, crash simulation and testing. With this new construction, the research campus gives DLR the opportunity to work jointly on the next generation of the automobile, in a single building with well-known partners ranging from automobile manufacturers to suppliers and other research facilities.”

Sven Hamann said: “Many have not yet recognised the opportunities arising from networking. We at Bosch combine our own experience with our expertise as a provider of industrial solutions. Bosch is a lead user and lead supplier in Industry 4.0. ARENA2036 provides a good platform for further research into networked production with partners from industry and science.”

ARENA2036 – start-up projects

Since July 2013, ARENA2036 (Active Research Environment for the Next Generation of Automobiles) has already been working on all four start-up projects in a temporary building: intelligent lightweight construction and function integration, digital production: new materials and processes, research factory: production in the future, and the interface project Creativity, Cooperation, Competence transfer.

ARENA2036 founder members

Apart from the University of Stuttgart, BASF, Bosch, Daimler, the German Centre for Aerospace (DLR), the German institute for textile and fibre research in Denkendorf (DITF) and the Fraunhofer Institute have been members from the start. Other well-known companies have since joined the association as well.

ARENA2036 financing

The ARENA2036 research campus stems from a competition arranged by the federal ministry for research (BMBF) “Research campus – public/private partnership for innovation”, in which the proposal by the University of Stuttgart and the ARENA2036 partners was selected as exemplary. Over a maximum period of 15 years, the ministry will make an annual subsidy of up to € 2 million available ( The new research building will be funded by the University of Stuttgart and subsidies from the EFRE programme “Innovation and Energy Transition in Baden-Württemberg 2014-2020”. (

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