City of start-ups
Berlin is quite well known for its start-ups, but not so much for its factories. Of course, a lot of production is also done here. But first and foremost, Berlin is a city of knowledge. However, one does not exclude the other. Knowledge-based high-tech production is something that fits very well with Berlin and for which there are excellent prerequisites in the application-oriented research institutions of the city.
You can tinker with apps anywhere. Sophisticated hardware is another story. Developing professional hardware prototypes requires more than what you can find in your own garage: Special components, expensive machines, and, last but not least, the expertise on how the final product can result from a prototype. Up to now, the startup landscape has lacked a tailored offering for this step between the initial idea and the creation of a prototype that is ready for mass production.
New research platform Start-a-Factory
In Berlin, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft now offers a research platform for startups and SMEs. At the Start-a-Factory, companies can test their new hardware developments. In the end there should be the “startup garage of tomorrow:” with high-tech equipment and tailored to the needs of young companies. In the new laboratory complex, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) are exploring the problems of product development and are developing and testing suitable solutions.
Modular and flexible
The goal is to address the needs of young companies in a precise way and to develop a flexible, cost-effective environment – the “startup garage of tomorrow.” This can then be set up at the locations of future project partners. At Start-a-Factory, development and production-related interfaces are determined within the process chains. But also factors that influence later production costs are taken into account from the very beginning. Both serve to prepare for a smooth and cost-effective transfer into mass production.
The lab environment of Start-a-Factory is designed to be modular and flexible, in the form of containers. These feature high-end, professional equipment. The selection of equipment is adapted according to the development focus in terms of content.
Fraunhofer IZM is expanding its research and development infrastructure with the new laboratory complex in order to be able to offer comprehensive development competence across high-tech technology research, from cleanroom high-tech, to models of time-efficient standard solutions, as well as expertise transfer concepts.