Around one year after the 100th anniversary. On the occasion of the research institute’s twentieth birthday and exactly twelve months after the reinforced concrete floor slab was constructed, around 200 guests from politics, administration, business and research came to Schwäbisch Gmünd to celebrate a milestone in the history of the fem together with institute director Prof. Dr. Holger Kaßner. With the opening of the innovation lab, the fem is realizing a goal that was formulated six years ago in the “Strategy 2027”. At that time, a strategy paper on the thematic development of the institute was drawn up under the leadership of the then director of the institute, Dr. Andreas Zielonka, which also considered a spatial expansion.

The striking new building with its highly symbolic and dynamically curved façade in gold and silver extends the fem by around 4,500 square meters and, in addition to laboratories and offices, also includes a large conference hall bearing the name of the former director of the institute. In future, citizens will be able to find out about the R&D activities of the Gmünd research institute in the open, spacious foyer: “Thanks to the transparent architecture on the first floor, we can now open up to all interested parties in a way that was previously not possible. Anyone who would like to experience how the technologies of tomorrow are created at the fem is cordially invited,” says Institute Director Kaßner.

In his welcoming address, Ministerial Director Michael Kleiner emphasized the importance of the fem as a technological driving force for the future of Baden-Württemberg. The purpose and obligation of the fem is to support the economy, which will be further expanded and intensified with the newly created opportunities. The new building is the largest single project to have been financed in Baden-Württemberg with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Lord Mayor Richard Arnold, the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd is particularly fortunate to have been able to play its part in the success of the project. With the construction of the electrolyzer in the Gügling industrial park and hydrogen research at the fem, the city is on the right path to a new energy era. District Administrator Dr. Joachim Bläse argued that, despite all the unanswered questions and uncertainties, a positive picture of the future should be drawn up, to which research and fem would make an important contribution. He was impressed by the determination of the fem and the masterpiece that the new building represents.

In his speech, Kaßner underlined Dr. Joachim Bläse’s call for a motivating vision of the future and warned against depriving research of its livelihood in difficult times: “Saving on research means saving on the future of the country!”. Research, development and the resulting transfer of knowledge and technology to small and medium-sized enterprises, industry, education and society are indispensable for modern civilizations. In the new laboratories, the fem now has every opportunity to make its contribution to the realization of the vision in the fields of materials research and surface technology. The fact that the new building could be erected in record time and on schedule is thanks to the close and concentrated cooperation of all fifty project partners and the extremely unconventional execution. The record time was achieved thanks to highly agile project management and ingenious construction site logistics with large overlaps between all trades. For example, the interior work was already being carried out at full speed before the building shell was closed.

After the handover of the keys by architects Armin and Marcel Stütz, Institute Director Kaßner and the fem department heads presented the new laboratories during a tour of the innovation laboratory. The focus is on additive manufacturing, battery and hydrogen research and support from high-performance computers for digitalization and AI. The equipment and supply technology are installed in a highly flexible manner and offer researchers excellent working conditions.

“In view of the high transformation pressure on our industry and society, it is crucial to invest in the development of new research and working environments. Only then will we successfully master the challenges of the future. We have achieved this impressively with the help of everyone involved,” says Kaßner.

fem Research Institute

Katharinenstraße 13–17
73525 Schwäbisch Gmünd

T +49 7171 1006-114
M +49 171 3120997

Photo credits: Press fem Research Institute