A milestone has been reached in the regeneration of the former Michelin premises in Hallstadt, Germany – and in the transformation of the entire automotive supplier industry in northern Bavaria. The Cleantech Innovation Park, an incubator for future technologies, is now being built on the site where Michelin stopped producing tyres in late 2020. The first joint projects focusing on AI and digitalisation, efficient use of resources in production and clean energy in the mobility sector (hydrogen and electric mobility) are already in the pipeline. The partners in Cleantech Innovation Park GmbH welcomed a number of guests to the ceremony for laying the foundation stone of the innovation centre, including Florent Menegaux, CEO of the Michelin Group, Maria Röttger, President and CEO of Michelin Europe North, and Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy.
“When we were forced to close our tyre plant at the end of 2020, we were determined to leave behind a fertile site here in Hallstadt for future-oriented projects,” Röttger explains. Over the coming years, the aim is to deliver a flagship project that will transform the automotive supplier industry – a project with a significance that will extend far beyond the regional borders of Bavaria. “A sense of commitment to the regions in which we have an active presence is very much part of the Michelin culture, and our responsibility certainly doesn’t end when we close a plant. The Cleantech Innovation Park will offer new opportunities to future generations, create jobs and strengthen the ‘Made in Germany’ quality label – a seal of quality that we urgently need to further enhance or even completely reinvent to ensure Germany remains competitive as an industrial location in the future, too,” explains Röttger.
Dundee as a role model – Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc
Michelin took a similar course of action after it closed its plant in the Scottish city of Dundee. In the U.K., the transformation of the former production site is held up as a shining example of the sustainable regeneration of an industrial site. Just under 850 employees successfully produced tyres at the Dundee site for decades. However, structural changes on the European tyre market left Michelin with no choice other than to close the plant. The turnaround has been successfully completed and ten companies are now hard at work on the 32-hectare site of the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP). These companies are united by their desire to shape the future with their solutions – a future that is geared first and foremost to sustainability. MSIP is home to specialists in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, along with companies conducting research into innovative battery storage solutions. The entire Dundee region is benefiting from MSIP, as a glance at the figures, for example, makes clear. Some 120 new jobs have so far been created at MSIP and a total of 791 jobs are currently planned.
A concept by users for users
“The Cleantech Innovation Park is closely aligned with the needs of users in the region,” says Röttger. These are primarily companies of various sizes that are working together on research and development projects to design future technologies and make them marketable. These companies can find support at the Cleantech Innovation Park in the form of a strong network of expert scientific and research partners. For instance, various Fraunhofer Institutes, the University of Bamberg, the University of Bayreuth and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Nürnberg-Erlangen already rank among the key partners and drivers of future joint projects with a major practical orientation. The innovation centre, which is at the heart of the Cleantech Innovation Park, offers them the ideal conditions. The 8,000 square metres, spread across a total of six production workshops, can be used flexibly. Approximately 20 million euros are being invested in the first major construction project on the Cleantech Innovation Park site. This project is being funded by the park’s three partners – Michelin, the town of Hallstadt and the district of Bamberg. The innovation centre is set to start up operations in late 2023, while plans for setting up a creative forum, including a funding application, are already underway. This forum will provide a site for sharing, meeting and knowledge transfer.
Röttger is in no doubt about the prospective benefits: “For the region of northern Bavaria, it’s hugely significant that research and development work on innovative technologies will be taking place more or less right on our doorstep in future. I’m all the more delighted that, by laying the foundation stone for the innovation centre, we have taken an important step towards the future of the automotive region of northern Bavaria.”