The economic region of Erfurter Kreuz offers the largest settlement spaces available in the Free State of Thuringia, and the new company settlements and expansions of recent years have allowed it to develop into a 200-hectare area. With an expansion potential of up to 400 hectares of business and industrial areas, the region is well positioned. The cities of Arnstadt and Ilmenau represent the two main and complementary centres of development in the region. In Ilmenau, the balanced mix of industries and the only technical university of the Free State of Thuringia generate synergy effects and constitute significant location advantages. Traditional sectors such as mechanical engineering, the glass industry, measurement and electrical engineering are complemented by companies focusing on new technological fields such as the motor vehicle component industry, sensor technology and solar industry. Today, the tradition-steeped “measurement technology from the Gera valley”, for example, stands for innovations in the field of temperature measurement and sensor technology. In particular, the new settlement of several high-tech companies in the fields of energy technology and photovoltaics has generated a lot of motion at Erfurter Kreuz in recent years. Reasons for the positive development include not least the central location and infrastructural advantages. The well developed network of federal roads brings the A4, A9, A71 and A73 motorways within quick and easy reach. The nearby Erfurt-Weimar Airport provides optimal connection possibilities to the airports of Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt am Main, highlighting the central location within Europe. The railway connection to the freight traffic shrinks the distances to industrial centres such as Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden. Numerous internationally active companies such as Daimler AG, N3 Overhaul Services GmbH, Bosch Solar Energy AG and BorgWarner Transmission Systems GmbH have recognised those advantages and invested in this location.
Even in the face of the future shortage of skilled labour, the supply of skilled new recruits in the Technology Region Ilmenau Arnstadt is secured thanks to the nearby Ilmenau University of Technology.
It trains specialists in technology, natural sciences, economics and the media and cooperates in numerous projects with companies in the region.
TU Ilmenau is innovation centre and driving force for the region. The Ilmenau University of Technology can look back to 110 years of tradition in engineer training. With approximately 6,400 students and a staff of 1,300, the university is a manageable teaching and research facility, where studies are rapid and research is varied and efficient. Studies in technology, natural sciences, economics and the media are pillars at the University of Technology. The academic education and research are characterised by interdisciplinarity, a close practical connection, and an early involvement of the students in current research projects. The close cooperation with a variety of large and medium-sized companies in Germany and abroad as well as the large demand in the industry provide the graduates with outstanding opportunities on the labour market. In select fields of expertise as well as fundamental and applied research, the university ranks among the top on a national level and increasingly also on an international level. The interdisciplinary and cross-faculty cooperation and ensuing bundling of competencies towards competitive research clusters in nano engineering, precision technology and precision measurement technology, technical and biomedical assistance systems, drive, energy and environmental technologies, digital media technology, and mobile communications are particularly characteristic.
The stated strategic objective of the cooperation between university and commercial enterprises is the quick transfer of the results from scientific research towards economic application. Expressions of the partnerships with companies for a durable and sustainable expansion of the range of expertise as well as the continuous reinforcement of the university’s scientific profile include endowed professorships specifically geared to that purpose. Dedicated to the fields of synthetic material technology, precision measurement technology, photovoltaics and industrial electrical engineering, they relate to economically relevant branches of technology. Spin-offs from research facilities are part of innovation and technology transfers and a key means of turning scientific research results into added-value chains. In recent years, approximately 100 technology-oriented companies founded by graduates and staff members have settled around the Ilmenau University of Technology. This has generated several hundred jobs. Those create the potential for additional settlements in research-intensive areas of technology.
Rich cultural and natural spaces. Where economic and scientific potentials develop, there is also a need for excellent living conditions with a high recreational value. The various museums, churches and castles of the region offer plenty of opportunities for adventure and learning about historic personalities of the cultural history of Germany. They include the work places of the german writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Ilmenau and Stützerbach as well as the composer Johann Sebastian Bach in Arnstadt and Dornheim. “Mon Plaisir”, the Baroque city of dolls at the New Palace in the district capital Arnstadt is a treasure of art history. Art enthusiasts can visit the house of the Thuringian painter Otto Knöpfer in Holzhausen or one of numerous exhibitions in the Arnstadt art gallery. The countryside is characterised by an extraordinary variety of landscape elements, including geological peculiarities, extensive forests, rugged and rolling mountains, rivers and creeks, meadows, fields, and woods, creating the conditions for a location of particular quality.
The author was chief executive of the district of Ilmenau from 1990 to 1994, then CEO of the foundation for the promotion of Thuringian technology and innovation until 1996, and project manager for technological development in the Thuringian state development agency from 1996 to 2001. From 2001 to 2006, he led the faculty of studies at the Thuringian university of cooperative education. Since 2006, Dr. Kaufhold has been chief executive of the Ilm district.