Overcoming frontiers and discovering new land – is deeply embedded in Bremen’s soul. 600 years ago, merchants from the Hanseatic City of Bremen sent their ships across the seven seas to faraway lands, and for the past 100 years the city has also been setting its sights on the skies and outer space. Henrich Focke from Bremen was the first German aircraft manufacturer (who later built helicopters), and aviation exerted a similar fascination on others from the region. From these historical roots, Bremen has grown to become a powerful location for the aerospace industry. One person in a hundred in Bremen is now slightly weightless – no fewer than 5,000 people are employed by the many Bremen companies operating in this industry. As a location, Bremen can boast a growing and innovative network that owes its strength in some measure to the intensive, interdisciplinary collaboration between the business community, the research community and policymakers in the Bremen government.
Aerospace products are designed and built in Bremen by global players with names like EADS, with its Airbus and Astrium subsidiaries, or Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (RDE), or OHB. Bremen’s expertise in this industry is also characterised, however, by important supplier companies such as Premium Aerotec, Voith Engineering Services and FTI technologies, not to mention numerous small and medium-sized enterprises. All these companies have come together to form AVIABELT, an association that promotes the interests of Bremen companies far beyond Germany’s borders and which simultaneously ensures that the intensive exchange of ideas and information at local level between research facilities, policymakers, public administration and the business community is continued.
Bremen is one of the leading centres for the German space travel industry. World-class achievements are made here – systems technology and research for the space travel industry, remote earth observation and atmosphere research, polar and marine research, environmental research and engineering – Bremen’s competencies complement each other to form a unique portfolio. National and European space programmes are supported and managed to a substantial extent by players in Bremen. For example, the ‘Columbus’ Spacelab that has been docked to the ISS since 2008 was assembled in Bremen.
Space applications and technologies are a tremendous driver of innovation. Even today, they provide a wealth of possibilities for making our life on earth more simple. Satellite navigation and communication, weather forecasts, remote earth observation for understanding and monitoring climate change and global warming, not to mention satellite TV and mobile radio communication are just a small sample from the total. Supporting this industry is therefore a lynchpin of the German government’s ‘High-Tech’ initiative, which disbursed about 1.2 billion Euro for space projects in 2010. A substantial proportion of that amount was received by Bremen enterprises and research facilities.
Bremen itself is providing a substantial amount of funds as well, however. Policymakers, entrepreneurs and researchers in Bremen have set themselves the goal of positioning the location at both national and international level as a ‘Model Region for Space Travel’. Today, the Hanseatic City already has the highest level of space know-how per capita in Germany.