The Munich Metropolitan Region in the south of Bavaria, with its two major business centres of Munich and Augsburg, has developed into a powerful economic region in an unspoiled environment.
The Free State of Bavaria recognized the importance of combining economic and ecological considerations early on. It was in Munich that the first German ministry of the environment was established 30 years ago. And it was Bavaria that initiated the establishment of the Centre of Competence in Environmental Affairs (KUMAS) in Augsburg more than twelve years ago. Thus, in the framework of the Bavarian High-Tech Offensive, substantial amounts of money were invested in promoting ecologically competent institutions and projects and in establishing the KUMAS e.V. Association in Augsburg.
The formation of this support association in 1998 laid the foundation for a continuous expansion of the Bavarian environmental engineering sector, which contributed considerably to strengthening the entire region.
The main goal of KUMAS is to support ecological activities in agreement with political, administrative, scientific, research and development, educational and economic requirements. The presently more than 200 active KUMAS network partners constitute a tightly interwoven system of environmental competence. The integration and promotion of knowledge in environment-related organizations and firms represents a great challenge for KUMAS. This broad range of interests offers all participants excellent opportunities and distinct advantages. In fact, KUMAS aims to assist young and small enterprises during their start-up phase, to support existing companies in the ever fiercer national and international competition and to create an attractive environment for companies wishing to locate in Bavaria. Thus, the “up-and-coming” environmental engineering industry will help to generate new jobs and safeguard existing ones. Within the wide range of environmental technologies, KUMAS – due to already existing strengths – initially focused on the following priorities:
• Environmental education
• Setting up businesses
• Environmental economics
• Efficient use of resources
• Renewable energies
• Environment, transport and logistics
• Export of environmental technologies
Thanks to the active involvement and targeted project promotion by the Free State of Bavaria, a large variety of activities have already developed and the overall conditions in the region have improved.
The Bavarian Environment Agency (LfU) relocated from Munich to the newly built headquarters in Augsburg and has for years concentrated its environmental expertise and improved its services for local businesses by consolidating the previous state agencies for environmental protection, water management and geology.
The training centre of the Bavarian School of Administration (BVS) in Lauingen on the river Danube is a modern vocational training facility for specialists in the supply and disposal sector, ensuring the required expert potential.
The bifa environmental institute has for years been cooperating with Bavarian businesses on a hands-on basis, and the waste-fired power plant of AVA Waste Utilization Plant, Augsburg has set new standards in European waste disposal since it started operating.
Chambers of commerce pool economic competencies
The Bavarian chambers of commerce record the competencies of environmental companies in the Munich Metropolitan Region and showcase them in collaboration with all German chambers of commerce and industry, together with another 10,000 environmental companies, on the internet portal www.umfis.de.
Science strengthens the economy
The town of Straubing, with specialized institutions such as C.A.R.M.E.N. e.V., has evolved into a centre for renewable resources. Scientific institutions that engage in practice-related research and have close links with local businesses guarantee the rapid implementation of new ideas and developments. Marketable products and services are generated, safeguarding the edge in technology of the Bavarian environmental industry.
Important elements of the KUMAS network include scientific institutions of Augsburg University, such as the AMU – Application Center for Materials and Environmental Research and the WZU – Environment Science Center, as well as the environmental engineering department of the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences or the environmental and power engineering department at the Kempten University of Applied Sciences. The environmental network is further reinforced by the chair of Water Quality and Waste Management at the Garching location of TU Munich, the Competence Pool Weihenstephan (CPW) at the Research Center Weihenstephan for Brewing and Food Quality of the Weihenstephan University of Applied Sciences, or the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research – Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
New entrepreneurs create jobs
The example of the Environmental Technology Business Incubation Center Augsburg (UTG GmbH), which is run by the Swabian chambers of commerce, shows that more than a hundred environmental enterprises have been supported so far, and many new jobs were created in a wide field of activities extending from renewable energies to classical environmental technologies such as waste materials, waste water, noise and brownfield sites to biological-environmental technology. Currently almost 40 businesses with up to 200 employees are active in the Incubation Center.
Attractive venues for trade fairs and conferences
Besides the Munich-based trade fairs IFAT – International Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Refuse and Recycling and the new Intersolar, in recent years Augsburg, with the help of KUMAS and the active involvement of network partners, has made a name for itself at both national and international level as a venue for environment-related conferences and trade fairs.
Existing trade fair and congress services were expanded and new ones were introduced.
One example is the Bavarian Waste and Dump Days congress, which each year attracts 300 experts from all over Germany to the Bavarian Environment Agency in Augsburg. Numerous water specialists come to visit the Bavarian Water Days, which have taken place annually since 2005. With the “Bayerische Immissionsschutztage” conference, for the first time held in 2009, KUMAS included the topic of air pollution control in its range of competencies. Over the past ten years, the annual RENEXPO trade fair has evolved into the leading congress fair in Germany in the area of renewable energies: In 2008 alone, more than 300 exhibitors showcased their new products and offered their services to 14,000 visitors at the Augsburg Trade Fair Center.
Only a few months ago, the establishment of the DCONex 2009 congress fair opened a new chapter in the area of hazardous materials management.
KUMAS participates in international trade fairs
KUMAS attends international trade fairs on environmental issues together with partner companies. For instance, KUMAS is present at the water and waste water fair “Wasser Berlin” as well as on the largest international environment-related fair, IFAT, in Munich. At the IFAT 2008, 18 member companies used the joint KUMAS stand to present their latest services and products to an international audience. As part of an environmental cooperation agreement between KUMAS and SISC (Shiga Industrial Support Center) in Otsu, Japan, KUMAS has for years had a stand on the important Japanese environment trade fair EnviroShiga in Nagahama.
KUMAS awards prize for environmental innovation
For eleven years, KUMAS has annually awarded the title “KUMAS-Leitprojekt” (pioneering project) to activities that strive to achieve the best possible ecological compatibility and lead to improvements with regard to environmental media, resource protection and sustainable development. Forty projects have so far received this coveted award.
Approaching the future as partners
“Thanks to the strong involvement of its network partners and the support from the Free State of Bavaria, the overall development of KUMAS during the first few years of its existence has been positive. KUMAS has made every effort to further improve the general conditions for local businesses, strengthen the network and promote international connections. The region will profit from this. In the future, too, KUMAS will count on the successful cooperation with the Free State of Bavaria. To continue working successfully, all relevant people in the areas of politics, administration, science, research, education and, in particular, industry and commerce must join forces. All institutions and firms are requested to support the network through active participation because in the long term, we can only succeed in global competition if we cooperate,” says Egon Beckord, managing director of KUMAS – Centre of Competence in Environmental Affairs.
The author studied mechanical and process engineering. In 1984, he started working for the Augsburg/Swabian chamber of industry and commerce and in 1996, he became the managing director of the Environmental Technology Business Incubation Center Augsburg (UTG). Since 2001, he has also been heading the KUMAS e.V. Association.