Helmholtz Innovation Labs are physical places where scientific expertise and the needs of industry and its customers meet. In the long term, the labs create "enabling spaces" where ideas can be tested with corporate partners in joint development projects. This commercialisation idea distinguishes the Helmholtz Innovation Labs as "think and do tanks" from pure research laboratories.
In April 2016, the first seven Helmholtz Innovation Labs emerged from a competition. The Helmholtz Association is providing around twelve million euros over a period of five years to build and establish these labs. The seven labs successfully passed the interim evaluation in spring 2019.
In July 2019, nine additional labs successfully passed a two-stage selection process. Subject to a successful interim evaluation, they will receive a budget of 17 million euros for the next five years. The new labs started their operations at the turn of 2019/2020.
BaoBab (Brain antibody-omics and B-cell Lab) at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is developing a platform for manufacturing and characterizing monoclonal autoantibodies from spinal fluid. These autoantibodies are to serve as research tools and help in the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
Further information and contact details: Dr. Harald Prüß, Harald.Pruess(at)dzne.de
ZAIT (Center for Aerogels in Industry and Technology) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) refines aerogels and aerogel composite materials. ZAIT offers industrial companies opportunities to develop solutions through joint research and development projects dealing with application-relevant questions in the areas of temperature insulation, fire protection, energy storage, and selective gas adsorption. Further information and contact details: Prof. Dr. Barbara Milow, Barbara.Milow(at)dlr.de
OPTSAL (Optical Technologies for Situational Awareness) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) works with security agencies and partners from science and industry to apply a number of optical aerospace technologies. The lab’s goal is to establish a competence and development center for situational assessment in the context of safety and security applications. It offers a unique development and testing environment for trying out, refining, and applying technologies and procedures under real-world conditions. Further information and contact details: Ralf Berger, ralf.berger(at)dlr.de
SuFIDA (surface-based fluorescence immuno digital assay) at the Forschungszentrum Jülich can count individual marker molecules for more precise diagnosis of hard-to-diagnose disorders. It is digital and more sensitive than the so-called ELISA method used in research and medicine. The lab’s goal is to work with strong partners from industry and academia to replace conventional methods. Further information and contact details: Prof. Dr. Dieter Willbold, d.willbold(at)fz-juelich.de
3D-US Lab (3D underground seismic lab) at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences pools, standardizes, and modularizes the tunnel and drilled hole seismology that has been developed so far at the GFZ for 3D seismic assessment of underground construction. In the long term, the lab intends to establish 3D underground seismology as a key technology for effectively and safely constructing and using underground structures. Further information and contact details: Dr. Ruediger Giese, ruediger.giese(at)gfz-potsdam.de
FERN.Lab (Remote sensing for sustainable resource use) at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is intended to become a technology platform for developing and operationalizing practical transdisciplinary methods of using remote sensing data. The lab focuses on collecting geoinformation, especially from satellite data, to meet the specific requirements of companies, agencies, and NGOs. Further information and contact details: Dr. Daniel Spengler, daniel.spengler(at)gfz-potsdam.de
Ultratherm (Ultra-short thermal treatment of materials with flash lamp and laser annealing) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) collaborates with partners from industry to optimize and develop procedures for flash lamp annealing. This process technology for ultra-short irradiation of thermosensitive surfaces has great industrial potential in various fields of application (including battery technology and printed electronics). Ultratherm offers its cooperation partners access to a laboratory with several flash lamp and laser systems and, in cooperation with the HZDR, to many other material handling and material analysis methods. Further information and contact details: Dr. Lars Rebohle, l.rebohle(at)hzdr.de
CLEWATEC (Clean Water Technology Lab) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) researches new, sustainable technologies for flexible, resource-friendly wastewater treatment. The focus is on such issues as recovering valuable resources from wastewater, developing advanced measurement and analysis techniques, and using available energy efficiently. Further information and contact details: Dr. Sebastian Reinecke, s.reinecke(at)hzdr.de
FlexiSens (Smart sensors) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) will develop and market new magnetic field sensors on ultra-thin, flexible substrates in cooperation with its partners. These sensors have a very wide range of uses, including applications in electromobility and mechanical engineering. In addition to the existing partners from industry and research, further partners have also been invited to collaborate on working with these new magnetic field sensors. Further information and contact details: Dr. Denys Makarov, d.makarov(at)hzdr.de
Infrastructure plays a key role in the economy and society of every country, and yet it is increasingly failing well before the end of its expected useful life. This negative development will be further accelerated by megatrends like climate change and resource scarcity. This leads to technically complex repairs associated with high costs and environmental burdens. The KIT HUB uses a globally unique approach to develop preventive measures in the form of innovative products, technologies, and services for the sustainable infrastructure of the future. The project involves all “stakeholders” from the raw material manufacturer to the builder.
Computer-aided modeling and simulations have become an integral part of product development. However, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are still in the early stages of digitalization and virtual product development. That is why the Institute of System Dynamics and Control at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) founded the Systems and Control Innovation Lab (SCIL). This gives companies access to the latest design technologies, basic research, and software tools for modeling, controlling, and regulating complex mechatronic systems across the entire spectrum of their technical applications. Additionally, the SCIL innovation laboratory offers individual consulting to its partners on selecting and applying for suitable funding programs (EU, German federal government, federal states) in order to initiate joint SCIL projects.
DESY develops, builds, and operates accelerator facilities for photon research. The high-frequency electronics required for this are designed based on the MicroTCA standards. They are continuously developed in cooperation with industry partners and are made commercially available through licenses. MicroTCA offers advantages for applications that meet the following decisive criteria: high-performance analog and digital signal processing on the same rack, reliability through redundancy of critical components, continuous system monitoring, and remote maintenance. The MicroTCA Technology Lab is the contact for contract development (hardware, firmware, software) based on MTCA.4 standards. The lab provides electronics companies with access to high-quality testing and measurement services and advises users on the system integration of MicroTCA components from various manufacturers.
The MIRO Innovation Lab (MIL) evolved from the MiroSurge system, a modular robot for telemanipulated minimally invasive surgery. The lab is located at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. It promotes innovation and technology transfer in the field of robotic-aided medicine. To accomplish this, the lab provides its partners with access to complex research infrastructures and expert knowledge spanning from mechatronic system design and system analysis and control to sensor-based information acquisition and autonomous control. The plan is to work together to devise, develop, and test innovative robotic assistance systems for medical diagnostics and intervention. The growing partner network consists of small and medium-sized companies, international corporations, and renowned (university) clinics.
What is currently picking up speed in machine production under the term Industry 4.0 is still in its infancy in biological production. The industrialization of biology and bioeconomics is at the center of the growing global demand for biological and chemical products to produce chemicals, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and food. However, progress in the biotechnological industry is weighed down by the lengthy procedures in biological production processes. The MiBioLab innovation lab is researching and developing technologies with industry partners to use and modify properties of microorganisms that can accelerate these processes. The basis for this is a large parent library of different organisms combined with micro-photobioreactor technology. This enables rapid and precise strain phenotyping – the quantitative analysis of structural and functional properties of microorganisms – for the development of production processes. The MiBioLab and its industry partners ensure the technological development and strive to disseminate an understanding of biological processes on an industrial scale. The main focus is on aspects of automation and miniaturization.
MD-CEL (Max Delbrück Center Cell Engineering Lab, Berlin) develops innovative gene therapy technologies at the interface between academic research and industrial therapy and product development. In recent years, gene therapy approaches have helped to achieve enormous progress in therapy development in many areas, such as cancer immunotherapy. Companies now need innovative technologies to simplify manufacturing processes in order to advance the broad application of gene therapies. The MDCell offers a new, highly efficient system for genetically modifying cells using, among other things, its "Sleeping Beauty" transposon technology. For example, immune cells can be equipped with new tumor-specific receptors to independently detect and kill tumor cells in the body. The MDCell offers a framework (laboratory, expertise, trained staff) for large biotech companies as well as small start-ups to test the Sleeping Beauty technology for feasibility in specific areas of application. This will help develop new therapeutic approaches or products for the market. The project enables the MDCell itself to generate important expertise in therapy and product development. This knowledge is then used to implement new projects.
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The Helmholtz Innovation Labs HySPRINT (Hybrid Silicon Perovskite Research, Integration & Novel Technologies) at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB) is working with industry partners to push forward the development of novel materials and energy-efficient process technologies for applications such as solar energy conversion and sensor technology. The current focus is on the perovskite/silicon hybrid technology, liquid phase silicon crystallization, nanoimprint lithography, and creating prototypes using 3D micro-contacting techniques. HySPRINT provides an excellent infrastructure for collaborating with its industry partners (a perovskite baseline/printing laboratory, a laser laboratory, a silicon laboratory, and a nanoimprint lithography laboratory). Several contracts have already been signed with various industry partners to boost and/or intensify technology transfer to industry.