Exchange between delegates from the ELI Institute and representatives from companies in Wetzlar. (Images: Ralf A. Niggemann)
Exchange between delegates from the ELI Institute and representatives from companies in Wetzlar. (Images: Ralf A. Niggemann)

Wetzlar Network & ELI Institute

Potential for International Cooperation

A group of experts from the ELI Institute in Prague paid a visit to Wetzlar from June 21st 22nd 2017. Several members of Wetzlar Network took the opportunity to discuss possible cooperation projects with the ELI Institute.

Within the framework of the “Internationalization of Leading-Edge Clusters” program funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Wetzlar Network is cooperating with the ELI Institute (ELI = Extreme Light Infrastructure) situated south of Prague. There, Europe’s most powerful laser is currently being built with the financial support of the EU. The aim of the cooperation between Wetzlar Network and the ELI Institute is to enable SMEs in the Wetzlar region to successfully cooperate in international research and development projects.


The potential benefits of such cooperation for the members of Wetzlar Network became clear during the trip of ELI delegates on June 21st and 22nd 2017. On the first day, the Prague laser specialists visited the corporate headquarters of Leica Camera AG, where Dr. Ralph Schmittgens gave them a tour of the “inner sanctum”: the camera assembly and lens production department. Laser technology could be particularly interesting in this context for adaptive optics, for instance in binoculars or riflescopes.

For the second day, visits to the companies OptoTech in Wettenberg and ITK in Lahnau were on the agenda. As is well known, OptoTech is one of the world market leaders for optical machinery, and the growing specifications of optic systems demand high-end manufacturing solutions. Here too, laser technology could play a key role in future. ITK, on the other hand, has specialized in the development of microscope stages with linear motors. The experience in this field could yield valuable insights for laser applications.

Besides Ralf A. Niggemann and André Noack, the initiators of the cooperation, the delegation was accompanied by a large number of representatives of companies and associations, including Dr. Carsten Ott from Hessen Trade & Invest, Christian Piterek from Regional Management Mittelhessen and Dr. Gernot Horst from the Lahn-Dill Chamber of Industry and Commerce. At a joint dinner, scientists and industrialists exchanged information on technologies and cooperation models. Professor Peter Klar and Professor Sangam Chatterjee from the Justus Liebig University of Giessen sought contact with their Prague colleagues to explore possibilities of cooperation at the Research Campus Mittelhessen or at the future Optics Center in Wetzlar.

Dr. Stefan Borneis from the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, who is supporting the ELI project in an advisory capacity, was pleased with the visit: “It was an extremely promising start and more meetings will follow.” The Prague delegation was highly interested, and other companies from the Wetzlar region have already expressed interest in taking part in the project.


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