In addition to a well-known steel producer (Arcelor) that has specialised at its Bremen plant in making special steels, e.g. for the automotive industry, there are also many companies in the state of Bremen that process novel and conventional materials. Whereas major companies in Bremen (e.g. Airbus, Astrium, Daimler, Rheinmetal, Atlas Elektronik) generally have their own R&D departments that also focus on innovative materials, small and medium-sized enterprises often lack the human resources and expertise for using new materials, and for that reason are reticent to use such new materials. The scientific expertise required to assess and develop new materials, to optimise known materials, and to manage production processes appropriately in respect of the materials used, is so advanced in the state of Bremen, in both the materials science and process engineering fields, that the state has become an academic and research centre in ‘Materials Science’. Four extra-university research institutes form the core of this centre of excellence: the Bremen Institute for Applied Radiation Technology (BIAS), the Bremen Fibre Institute (FIBRE), the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Applied Materials Research (IFAM) and the Institute for Materials Science (IWT). Other major facilities include the University of Bremen’s Institute for Microsensors, Microactuators and Microsystems (IMSAS) and the departments of Ceramics and Computational Material Science (CMS). These key institutes in the field of materials science, as well as the departments of Physics/Electrical Engineering, Production Engineering, Mathematics/Informatics, Biology/Bionics, Geosciences and Chemistry enjoy a strong reputation and renown at national and international level in fields such as surface engineering, polymer engineering, adhesives technology, general materials science, metal materials, composite fibre materials, ceramics, laser welding, simulation and modelling.
As far as expertise and collaboration between the research community and industry is concerned, materials science is perhaps the most important field of technological research in Bremen. There are strong partnerships between large companies and Bremen’s research facilities, as well as intensive collaboration among the various research institutes (keywords here include MATEC, AMST, Broker, Collaborative Research Centres (SFBs), SFB/Transregio, Transfer-SFB, the Graduate College of the German Research Council, Multimat). One major issue in Bremen in respect of ‘Innovative Materials’ concerns how best to transfer outstanding scientific expertise, including the know-how of large industrial companies, into small and medium-sized enterprises. Commercial exploitation of what are often excellent scientific results has been achieved only in isolated cases so far. Another key issue in the cross-cutting field of ‘Innovative Materials’ is the need to improve skills in small and medium-sized enterprises with special reference to potential selection of alternative materials, and especially in the dimensioning and design of innovative materials for specific applications. Improving the interaction of measurement and simulation techniques is of special importance here.
Within this context, one key element in Bremen’s further advancement is the conducting of innovative, market-based projects in the field of new materials.