With the arrival of BMW in the mid-1980s, Regensburg transitioned to its role as a technology-oriented manufacturing center and over the past 15 years has laid the foundations for its unprecedented development. Those changes were preceded in the mid-1960s by the founding of the fourth Bavarian state university, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and by the founding of the OTH Regensburg, a university of applied sciences, in the early 1970s.
These investments by the Bavarian state government in the scientific infrastructure of the Regensburg region have paid off handsomely in economic terms, and continue to serve as an important basis for economic development in the Regensburg region and beyond. For a number of years now, Regensburg’s unemployment rate has been significantly lower than the Bavarian average, and its employment density has been among the highest in Germany, proving that investments in education, scientific infrastructure and innovation can make a lasting, sustainable contribution to a healthy and prosperous economy in terms of labor policy as well.
By focusing on technology in its municipal policies related to science and industry, Regensburg has succeeded in developing cluster structures and centers of excellence in key 21st-century technologies, making today’s jobs more secure while also creating new employment opportunities and building Regensburg’s reputation as one of Bavaria’s most attractive places to live. This is reflected in the increasing number of students at Regensburg’s universities, in the city’s steadily growing population, and in a sharp increase in the number of jobs occupied by university graduates. The key factors in these developments include the increasing quantity and quality of companies working in the development and engineering sector, and the development of one-of-a-kind technological expertise by international companies with a presence in the region. It is thus fair to say that Regensburg has successfully achieved positive structural transformation over the past 15 years, even though the local community may not have perceived the sheer scope of the change as it was happening.
Today, Regensburg has established a competitive position in a number of reliable growth industries, including the automotive, energy technology, electrical engineering and machinery industries. Regensburg enjoys high export ratios (over 80% in some cases), and has therefore been able to tap into growth potential even during periods of domestic economic weakness. Business owners’ tendency to produce their goods where the markets are, both for cost reasons and as a result of political pressure, represents a long-term challenge for a manufacturing and export-oriented region like Regensburg. Therefore, the guiding principle in Regensburg is to establish a competitive edge in both products and manufacturing. This principle is also reflected in the vision for the Regensburg region that was laid out in its final submission for recognition as a City of Science in 2011:
As part of this vision, developing science and industry in a shared space adjacent to university campus represents an essential means for promoting these areas for the City of Regensburg, and one that has been heavily emphasized for a number of years.
Fig. 1: Vision for the City of Regensburg
In Germany, technology centers and technology parks have proven their worth as tools for promoting business development. Technology centers and technology parks, especially those in industry areas with a strong technological profile and a broad scientific basis, play a central role in raising their regions’ public profile, promoting cooperation between science and industry, and helping to create new high-value jobs. The development of a technology park with a clear technology-oriented profile aims to give businesses and startups the chance to set up in close proximity to the Regensburg University community, allowing them to take full advantage of the skills, know-how and educational opportunities offered by local universities.
It was therefore only logical that, as one of three core projects, the development of the Regensburg technology park should take place on the grounds of the former German army base known as the Nibelungenkaserne. Its proximity to the university campus is reflected in the project’s name: TechCampus Regensburg. The Nibelungenkaserne was the last of Regensburg’s four former army bases to be vacated. With an area of just under 87 acres, it occupies a central location directly adjacent to the Regensburg University campus, which connects the OTH Regensburg, the Universität Regensburg, the University Hospital Regensburg, and the BioPark.
The site became the property of the City of Regensburg in 2011, opening the door to important and promising new developments within the city limits. About a third of the area is designated for commercial uses on the land-use plan, and is currently being developed as the TechCampus Regensburg. As part of the TechCampus plan, an area of about 32 acres that directly borders the university campus will bring science and industry together in a common space.
The campus provides space for research outside the university, new high-tech companies, established technology companies, and the TechBase innovation center, in addition to a place for science and industry representatives to meet and interact. Companies have the choice of either renting space or acquiring their own plot of land and building it up themselves.
Fig. 2: Aerial photo of the former Nibelungenkaserne
The area around the former army base’s commercial building will be home to a hotel site with dining and conference rooms, as well as retail spaces to service the local area.
In 2012 and 2013, a closed urban design competition with an implementation portion was held for the TechBase innovation center, in coordination with the Bayerische Architektenkammer (Bavarian Chamber of Architects).
The TechCampus is designed to give young, innovative businesses the opportunity to evolve through all the stages of their company life cycle, right on the campus grounds – from an innovation center, to rental spaces available on the open market, to their own distinctive company headquarters. Close collaboration between science and industry is also ensured by the direct connection to the Regensburg University campus, and by the scientific activities taking place within the TechCampus itself, for example, research that complements work conducted at the universities, university-affiliated institutes, a research and development building, and application centers.
Fig. 3: The TechBase as the defining feature of the TechCampus
As part of the TechBase project, the City of Regensburg has implemented two closely related projects at the same time. To further strengthen Regensburg startups’ capacity for innovation, an innovation zone was added with about 97,000 square feet of total floor space, as well as a research and development building with just over 32,000 square feet of total floor space, which includes spaces for research complementing work done at the universities, long-term research partnerships, cluster structures, and application centers (e.g. in the sensor technology segment).
The Innovation Center’s position on the TechCampus, in close proximity to the university campus, ensures that companies based here will enjoy outstanding conditions from the moment they are founded – both for corporate cooperation and development projects carried out in conjunction with other businesses and universities in Regensburg.
Clearly distinguished areas of responsibility ensure that no competition will arise between the BioPark and the TechBase. The wide-ranging field of life science technologies will continue to make its home in the BioPark.
In this way, the project helps to strengthen the region’s long-term opportunities in future-oriented technologies, and to increase its overall capacity for innovation. With the construction of the TechCampus, the City of Regensburg is fulfilling its role as an innovation leader for all of eastern Bavaria. Both the direct connection to the Regensburg University campus and the scientific activities taking place within the TechCampus ensure profitable connections between science and industry.
To ensure that the TechCampus’s high standards for the companies and scientific institutions residing there are also met with regard to architectural and urban-planning criteria, mahl.gebhard.konzepte and ASTOC have developed a set of landscaping design guidelines, based on the earlier idea competition. These guidelines ensure a consistent, homogeneous appearance across the TechCampus while also granting builders sufficient leeway to realize their own architectural visions, present a specific corporate identity, and implement the full range of uses offered by the TechCampus in a coherent way, from simple development offices to sophisticated high-tech manufacturing.
The 80-page guideline document provides a clear understanding of the basic ideas behind the framework plan, and lists detailed specifications for factors like facade materials and color schemes, garden arrangements, floor coverings, and furniture and other elements in outdoor areas.
Builders’ designs are agreed upon in individual consulting sessions before the building proposal is submitted, and optimized in collaboration with the builders. This ensures that individual buildings achieve high standards of quality in terms of both architecture and urban planning, while also helping builders to solidify their plans early in the planning process – which, in turn, leads to faster approval times.
The city also broke new ground in designating the southern part of the TechCampus as a mixed-use zone divided into smaller plots. The goal is to allow small- to medium-sized companies to combine living and working on parcels of land between 19,000 and 38,000 square feet. The residential portion is capped at 35%, and the limit is enforced under private law. The potential housing options range from spacious penthouse apartments on the park, to traditional employee apartments, all the way down to small apartments for commuters or international employees working in Regensburg temporarily.
With the completion of the TechBase in March 2016 and the arrival of the first batch of tenants, the TechCampus began to come to life. Since then, the employees of Vector Informatik have also moved into the first company building. In all, there are now close to 1000 people working on the TechCampus, most of them highly skilled workers. The remaining properties will be progressively marketed and developed over the next 5 years. The end result will be a TechCampus that is home to the concentrated know-how of some 3000 workers, helping Regensburg to progress step-by-step toward its Vision 2030 as a city of knowledge and high-quality manufacturing, and to ensure long-term prosperity for the residents of the City of Regensburg.
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