Setup of a laser amplifier stage at the ELI-Beamlines Institute. (Images: ELI-Beamlines, Prague)
Setup of a laser amplifier stage at the ELI-Beamlines Institute. (Images: ELI-Beamlines, Prague)

Wetzlar Network & ELI-Beamlines

When Ideas Become Innovations

The international cooperation between companies from the region and the laser research center ELI-Beamlines in Prague is taking shape. Two projects have gotten off the ground, more are to follow.

The W3 FAIR + CONVENTION provided numerous topics of conversation, especially for the visitors from ELI-Beamlines from Dolní Brežany near Prague. The delegation surrounding Dr. Georg Korn, who is head of the Department of Experimental Programs at the Prague institute, had traveled to the fair in order to exchange ideas with existing and potential cooperation partners. The initiated R&D projects have already given new impetuses to the region Wetzlar. “These are projects which can serve as models, which have what it takes to attract additional partners and to intensify the cooperation between companies and the ELI-Beamlines Institute,” Dr. Georg Korn states with delight.

In order to bring together the companies’ expertise in optics and systems and the unique know-how about lasers provided by the ELI-Beamlines Institute, André Noack has already done a lot of convincing in the region Wetzlar. He talks about synergetic effects, pooling competences and win-win situations. “It is really much more convincing to demonstrate what opportunities and potential exactly an R&D cooperation has to offer to the companies when it is based on a specific case. The highly specialized companies in our high-tech region cannot be allured by general promises – they want to know the precise details. And that’s a good thing.”

R&D cooperation project for a universal measuring instrument

Two specific R&D cooperation projects have already gotten off the ground. One concerns a novel universal measuring instrument, the other is about developing a new X-ray camera for industrial applications.

The growing requirements in the high-tech sector lead to optics which have to be increasingly more efficient, more precise and less restricted in their topology. The production of such high-performance optics is appropriately challenging. In view of these facts, a universal measuring instrument is to be developed and marketed as part of an R&D project. The development within the cooperation project benefits from the interaction of different partners and their expertise. For this purpose, Dioptic GmbH in Weinheim and the University of Applied Sciences for Central Hessen (THM), branch Wetzlar, teamed up with the ELI-Beamlines Institute in Prague. In order to utilize the measuring instrument with a practical orientation enabling it to carry out a broad range of measuring and alignment tasks, it is planned to involve additional associated partners in the project.

Development of a new X-ray camera

The second research project attends to the development of a new X-ray camera. There are numerous areas of application of modern X-ray cameras – nowadays, they range from medical engineering and materials analysis to safety engineering. Cameras are documenting when X-rays “roentgenize” static objects but they are also able to make dynamic processes visible. The more the fields of application were extended, the more the demands on X-ray cameras have increased.

Up to now, two partners participate in the development cooperation of the new X-ray camera: Brückmann Elektronik GmbH in Lahnau and the ELI-Beamlines Institute, Prague. The development comprises different modules which have to be perfectly fine-tuned with each other: camera technology, precision mechanics, optics, sensors, and interfaces, to name just the most important ones. Considering the immense complexity of the system, it is essential that the appropriate specialists are working together in this project. Additional partners who want to participate in the development of the described modules are very welcome.

Bringing high-end technologies on their way and on the market

Even now, it becomes apparent, that the partners in the mentioned projects will profit from the cooperation, creating a win-win-situation for both sides. Especially for medium-sized companies, this is an enormous gain. For very often, they don’t have the capacities to convert their ideas into marketable innovations. “The opportunity to be part of an international development partnership in order to bring high-end technologies on their way and on the market is new ground for many small and medium-sized companies. But the two projects initiated with the ELI-Beamlines Institute show how to do it,” Ralf Niggemann, manager of Wetzlar Network, is pleased to tell.

It is no coincidence that the Wetzlar Network as a communication and cooperation network is recently more and more taking on the role as an innovation network. Because the highly specialized small and medium-sized companies of the region are exactly the ones who have an increasing need for development partnerships. To create the required infrastructure for their purposes is a future-oriented task. On their way to this goal, the network has already put up some important flags and guide rails. Establishing the new endowed professorship was another milestone in bridging the gap between medium-sized companies and the university, particularly when it comes to development projects. The planned Optics Center will be open for all companies who want to use the existing infrastructure for their own R&D projects.

Advancement of the culture of innovation in the Wetzlar region

The international cooperation with the ELI-Beamlines Institute is another module, which can significantly contribute to the culture of innovation in the Wetzlar region. “As a network we want to provide an important impetus in this matter. And we are very optimistic that this will encourage other companies to make use of it.” On May 25th, 2018, a delegation will go on its next official trip to the ELI-Beamlines Institute in Prague. All companies specializing in optics, electronics, and mechanics are invited to come along and obtain an impression on how to get involved with their ideas. Perhaps these ideas will become innovations.


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The research facilities at the ELI-Beamlines Institute open up new R&D potentials.
The research facilities at the ELI-Beamlines Institute open up new R&D potentials.