Dr. theol. Albrecht Schröter: Jena, the city of lights – City of science and high technology

Jena is a city of lights. No other term applies as accurately to what distinguishes this city: the brainwaves of its bright minds, science and research institutions that consistently bring the light of discovery in the dark, as well as a high-technology business location with world-renowned traditional enterprises and many dynamic young organ­izations for these who have light as a central aspect for success. That Jena was chosen as the “Science City 2008” is based on the extremely successful link­ing of science, economics and gen­eral city development, which is hardly found in any other German city this size.
The research of high technology has tradition in Jena. The university – found­ed as a protestant university 450 years ago – has always been absorbing new scientific ideas and developing further. Famous names like Weigel, Schiller, Goethe and Abbe as well as achievements like the discovery of ultraviolet light, the first very-high-frequency trans­­mission and the development of the first functional internet-activity-system all speak for the contin­ual innovative strength of the city. The black-red-gold colours of Germany orig­inated in Jena, the first German high-rise building is situated here and the planetarium that are produced here explain the course of the stars spectacularly to the world. Currently the institutional laboratories are researching methods that will revolutionize the early detection and treatment of diseases, amongst other things. Jena’s research results are much talked about!


The people living here constitute the potential of the city – open to new ideas, exact in planning and deter­mined in implementation. The people of Jena have above-average education; 23 per cent of the local employees have academic qualifications – a Ger­many-wide peak value. Jena is one of the leading ci­­ties in patent registrations: far over one-­third of all patents in Thuringia come from Jena.

Jena is a university city: over 25,000 students study at the Friedrich Schiller University, the only ‘multi-disciplinary’ university in Thuringia with internati­on­al standing, and at the University of Applied Sciences Jena, the biggest in Thuringia. At the scientific campus “Beutenberg” eight ultra-modern re­­search institutions, two foundation centres and a variety of university and non-university institutions operate. To­gether they comprise a gateway be­tween science and commerce, so that theoretical knowledge finds its application through the fulfillment of assignments or through spin-offs of existing institutions. About 130 Jena organizations maintain their own research and development departments.


Jena is the business location of Thuringia. Enterprises like ZEISS, SCHOTT and JENOPTIK have built up and improved the economic region with their traditional roots and with their at-that-time visionary technologies, have attractively shaped the re­­gion for high-tech enterprises. Not only the traditional enterprises mould the good reputation of Jena abroad, but also the medium-sized enterprises move in international economic circles. The export quota of the organizations in Jena lies at about 50 per cent. The effective cooperation of science and commerce provides Jena with the leading position as the “BioRegion” in the new federal states. The multitude of newly-founded biotechnology enterprises speaks for the success of the concept.

Jena is the centre for differing competence networks. These promote the interlinking of enterprises and research institutions for the entire Thuringia and the bordering federal states. Jena takes the leading position within the networks, especially in the areas of optics, ophthalmology, laser technology, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Jena is a family-and-culture city. The science and high technology city can only develop successfully in the future, if it remains unchangingly attractive as a location to work and live in and contin­ues to draw highly qualified personnel. The Jena municipality, already years ago, recognized that a city only remains attractive to young people if it, amongst other things, creates family planning prospects. The diversity and economic performance of Jena’s day-care centres, the schools and education institutions are unique throughout Germany. For more than two years now, a city-wide alliance for families consisting of re­­search institutions, enterprises, clubs and associations as well as the adminis­tration have agreed on the development of family-friendliness.


The “Kulturarena” convenes for several weeks in summer every year with around 70,000 guests visiting numerous open-air concerts of various music styles, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra has made a name for itself in the past years through exclusive programmes, and last but not least the Zeiss Planetarium, the most senior planetarium in the world with its unique laser-dome projections, is the best-visited cultural institution in the city.

Jena is a city of short distances, in the mind and in reality. The close collaboration between the different scopes is the recipe for success. Jena is a green city in one of the most exciting land­scapes in Thuringia, the middle Saale valley, embedded in cultural landscape, interesting plateaus. As the number one science and technology centre in Thuringia, Jena has paved the way for supra-regional collaboration. The successful development of the central Ger­­man region can only work if collab­oration with other business centres in central Germany works. Jena intensively participates in the Erfurt-Weimar-Jena and Weimar territory impulse region. The Economic Initiative of Central Germany (Wirt­schaftsinitiative Mittel­deutschland), of which Jena is an active member, is the motor in the Cen­tral German region. The developing metropolitan region of Central Germany can unite the numerous strengths and potential capacities of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Therein the great opportunity exists to develop the region to be known throughout Europe and to be permanently interesting and attrac­tive for business enterprises and people.


OB_Schroeter_rgbThe author was born in Halle on the Saale in 1955 and is Lord Mayor of the city of Jena. He studied theology in Halle-Wit­tenberg and also received his doctorate there in 1996. He worked as a priest in Jena from 1984 onwards. From 2000 until 2006 he was the head of the So­cial and Cultural Department of the university city. He is a Social De­­m­­ocrat and has been the Lord Mayor since May 2006.