CHEMNITZ, Germany—Called "Silicon Saxony" after the U.S.'s Silicon Valley, almost every major semiconductor manufacturer and research center has a presence there. Fraunhofer—Germany's leading research centers nationwide, akin to the U.S. National Laboratories—has over 16 centers each concentrating on a different semiconductor expertise in Saxony alone.
Saxony, a state on the eastern side of Germany, also has approximately 2,200 companies employing over 58,000 employees who develop, manufacture and promote semiconductors, the equipment to make them, and the software to run them. And that does not count Bavarian Motor Works (BMW), which manufactures its i3 and i8 electric vehicles in Saxony.
Book-learning in engineering is no substitute for lab work. Often in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland it takes graduates up to two years on the job to be able to apply their book-knowledge to real work in the lab, but not in Saxony where workers are ready to work the day they graduate due to their internships at local businesses and research centers. Six universities in the area have departments dedicated to electronics and semiconductor development and manufacturing; the same six universities have relationships with other research institutions to give students lab training: the universities use 28 cooperative education facilities with Fraunhofer, 18 with the Max Planck Institutes, six with the Leibniz institutes, six with the Helmholtz Institutes, and 22 independent industrial research centers.
In the 20th century, the development of electrons and semiconductors began in Saxony, and before that in the 19th century, the Industrial Age began in Saxony. The region, thus has a long history leading innovation on the European continent. The first train was designed and engineered in Germany, the first six-cylinder gasoline engine, the floor mounted gearshift and more of these pioneering innovations came from Saxony.
Of late, the industrial cities Chemnitz, Zwickau, and their suburbs have become Europe’s highest region of per capita income, with about 6,000 successful companies plus 2,000 exhibiting the second highest GDP growth rate of all German federal states.
Besides BMW, Porsche, Audi, VW and approximately 750 supply companies with more than 81,000 employees work in Saxony’s automobile construction plants, the automobile industry contributes more than one fourth to the total revenue and over one third to the foreign sales of Saxony’s products.
In all over, $1.2 billion products are exported from Saxony with $78 million (35 percent) consumed in the E.U. by electronic-related industries.
What follows is a slide show example of who's who in the Saxony's semiconductor, automotive, and electronics industries making contributions to Germany's high-tech industry output.
Click on the slides below to see the slideshow.
Electronic Design Chemnmitz, a spin-off company of the Chemnitz University of Technology and is located in the same industrial park as Fraunhaufer ENAS (Electronic Nano-system Institute) and specializes putting microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) on the same complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), which sometimes also have their own open-source microcontrollers making them systems on Chip (SoCs).
(Source: Electronic Design Chemnitz (EDC), used by permission.)
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times