Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Hidden Champion - 20 Years WFS & 50 Years Silicon Saxony

Last Monday, on September the 5th 2011, the Economic Development Agency Saxony (Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen GmbH AKA WFS) had invited to its press talk due to its 20 year anniversary. The event took place at a small, yet technologically up the rank "hidden champion" in the wireless network applications in Dresden, dresden elektronik ingenieurtechnik GmbH.

Surprisingly the audience of about 20 journalists and relevant media connector learned once again and for their audience, what really is cooking on the sideline of Germany, in so-called Silicon Saxony.
Shortly after the re-unification of Germany in 1991 the government of Saxony decided to create an agency that would, even though loosely connected to the Free State of Saxony, act on its own as a LLC to spur the transformation of the local economy. An asset has been that the area around Dresden had been the microelectronics heart of the former COMECON (the communist economic entity) and so research institutes, well-educated engineers, and facilities were still in existence and to be used to bring economics up once again. It became evident that the local firms, even though they had made business with the global economy already needed support to connect to possible investors and new markets for their products and the ones to be developed. The WFS has functioned since then as a facilitator and connector of the local economy and the global markets in order to bring fertile connections into being.

The major goal back in the early days was to "put Saxony back on the global map" - as Saxony had been the European "power house" in machinery, automobiles, railways, and many other fields (till the Second World War). Behind the "iron curtain" not much came out of what was really cooking, even the developments since the start of the microelectronics age back in 1961 in a research lab in Dresden were unknown to most.

Since the beginning in 1991 the WFS has involved almost 3.000 Saxonian companies to step over the country borders in order to outreach to foreign markets bring not only the word about Saxony out but also attract foreign companies to invest and cooperate with partners in Saxony. Over 47.000 new workplaces could be created with the support of WFS. One of the two major achievements were the two chip factories, Global Foundries (formerly AMD) and INFINEON, which since the mid 90s have attracted not only suppliers locally to emerge but also fueled back into the research and academic institutions based in the area.

Current activities are the supporting of the entrepreneurial eco-system of Saxony, a deeper collaboration with research institutes and universities (here one has to name DRESDENconcept), a future outreach into Indian markets.

Some thoughts on visions to be pulled by the future we could see on that Monday in the room:

  • In what way WFS will outcompete other internationally active economic development agencies the minute the new social tools are taken into account as boundary objects to connect across the globe with almost no cost? 
  • How would the entrepreneurial spirit of Saxony which once was driven by constraints, which led then to innovations we still use today, e.g. tubed tooth paste, the SLR camera, the PAL TV system, and more? 
  • Being a high-tech hot spot of its day now in all the relevant fields of technology, from robotics, nano-tech, bio-tech, mobile computing, energy efficiency, sun energy,   ... what effect would have one or more (networked and closely working together) institutions like Singularity University to the economy of the region? 
  • What impact on future economic growth would a combined screening of Connected and TranscendentMan (both with crowdsourced translation to German) in Dresden fuel?


IV said...

Great, great Blog, Ralf! I will be here around ;)
Inma VP (Facebook)

Michael J. Trout, MFA said...

Think what Saxony has done... we could do with O!F and it's "collaborative" Foundup. Ralph watch... Foundups Fix: FOUNDUPS " Aaron Russo" Solution... Kill the CLOSED CORP. love to have you more active with FOUNDUPS® :)