A Bridge towards India

10.03.2010 | DAS WOCHENBLATT

“An important step for the economic development of the technology hub Kaiserslautern.“ This is what Kaiserslautern Lord Mayor Klaus Weichel called the agreement that was signed last week in his office in the context of a press conference. The agreement establishes collaboration between the PRE Park in Kaiserslautern and the technology park “Infopark Kochi” in Kerala, India.

The cooperation was preceded by the visit of a delegation from Rhineland-Palatinate headed by Minister President Kurt Beck approximately one year ago. The members of the delegation also included the Lord Mayor of Kaiserslautern as well as PRE manager Michael Wenk. As part of the trip to India, Wenk established contact with the technology park “lnfopark Kochi“. Now Wenk signed the collaboration agreement with its managing director Siddhartha Bhattacharya. After the exchange of information last year, the formal fixation of the partnership is now a “logical step”, said Bhattacharya during the signing of the agreement.

Wenk emphasized the importance of this international partnership for the city of Kaiserslautern and the PRE Park. “We live in a world of globalization, which calls for international networks and connecting channels that create mutual site benefits and contribute to stable growth of the involved cooperation partners“. The collaboration aims at jointly strengthening the competitiveness of the technology parks in India and in Kaiserslautern. To this end, a platform for mutual exchange of information and experiences shall be established. In a first step of the partnership, the management of the two technology parks shall be linked. The second step is to intensify connections between companies, research institutions, universities, and public agencies in order to further strengthen the contacts.

Wenk underlined the commonalities between the two technology parks in Kaiserslautern and in India. Both are characterized in their structure by a focus on information and communication technologies. “Both are young, innovative, ambitious. And both have recognized the need to create international networks.“ In the future, it may even be conceivable to expand this newly created international network by integrating additional technology parks. In this context, Wenk mentioned the vision of a global axis linking technology parks on different continents of the world, with the technology hub Kaiserslautern and the PRE Park making a major contribution to the driving force for such an axis.

The PRE Park was developed in the mid-1990s on a former military property in Kaiserslautern. Today, it is home to more than 100 companies creating about 2,800 jobs. In addition, the PRE-Gesellschaft is developing the so-called PRE Uni Park along Trippstadter Strasse, in the immediate vicinity of the University of Kaiserslautern. Renowned research institutes with a global reputation have settled here. The Indian “Infopark” was developed on the basis of a similar philosophy: “In the last five years, the Infopark has grown to almost 100 companies with more than 10,000 jobs“, said Bhattacharya and talked about “rapid growth“. The Infopark is home to a mixture of internationally leading companies and medium-sized, highly innovative companies. In addition, it is embedded into a circle of other, similar technology parks in its own vicinity. “We hope that the start of our collaboration will now be followed by concrete steps“, stated Bhattacharya. The intention is to mutually benefit from the partner’s competencies, innovations, and business models. In this context, the Indian “Infopark” director has already visited some world-renowned Kaiserslautern companies at the PRE Park, including Insiders Technologies and Human Solutions.

Weichel acknowledged that the technology hub Kaiserslautern has experienced a “strong development in recent years“. As an example, he mentioned the Science Alliance, in which the two Kaiserslautern universities as well as the local research institutes have come together and have found a joint platform for mutual exchange and presentation. The aim of the clear orientation of the city towards technology, science, and innovation is to create jobs. This is also the context in which Weichel sees the international connection of the PRE Park to India, which now has a contractual basis. It constitutes a bridge for Indian companies to Germany, to Rhineland-Palatinate, to Kaiserslautern. At the same time, the collaboration opens up opportunities on the Indian markets for companies from Germany and Kaiserslautern.

Our goal is to strongly position the technology hub Kaiserslautern at international markets“, commented Weichel with regard to the strategic importance of the agreement from the perspective of the city. In this sense, India is emerging as a market with strong growth. This opinion was shared by Hans-Georg Schneider, section head at the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Economic Affairs, during the press conference. However, Weichel added that no additional twinning with any Indian community is planned in the immediate future, although he would not exclude that in the mid- or long-term, this collaboration might lead to a city partnership. “This must grow organically on a stable basis.” (by Andreas Erb)

Tie tacks with the German and the Indian flags: Klaus Weichel, Siddhartha Bhattacharya, and Michael Wenk (from the left) seal the international agreement between the Kaiserslautern PRE Park and the Indian Infopark. PHOTO: ERB