Next milestone for the AI ecosystem in Heilbronn reached

The Innovation Park Artifical Intelligence (Ipai) celebrated the laying of the foundation stone for its first building together with Minister President Winfried Kretschmann and Minister of Economic Affairs Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut on September 22, 2022.

“The Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence, which is being created here, is a lighthouse and a central building block in the AI strategy of our state. It is intended to make the state one of the leading research and development locations for application-oriented products, services and business models in the field of AI. And Heilbronn is a prime example of a place where the course is tirelessly being set for the future,” emphasized Minister President Winfried Kretschmann in his speech. He said Baden-Württemberg was the first state in Germany to present an AI strategy back in 2018. “We’ve come a long way since then,” Kretschmann said. With the Innovation Park AI here in Heilbronn, not only a second powerhouse is emerging in the state alongside the Cyber-Valley in Stuttgart and Tübingen. “It gives us a chance to form a real power tandem from which AI momentum can spread across the country and around the world.”

Mayor Harry Mergel, spokesman for the Heilbronn consortium, described the establishment of the KI Innovation Park as a quantum leap in the city’s development into a knowledge city and a strong location for the future. “Heilbronn is becoming a powerhouse for Baden-Württemberg. AI is an important building block in this,” he said. He said the innovation park gives a boost to startups, small, medium and even large companies. “AI is the engine for further strengthening Heilbronn as a business location.”

Construction work on the future four-story building is already in full swing and has already reached the second floor – “We have overtaken ourselves in the construction,” jokes Prof. Reinhold Geilsdörfer, Managing Director of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, as he explains the Ipai. With a gross floor area of around 10,000 m² and significantly higher floor levels than the buildings in front of it, it is the largest building in this row. It will also stand out from the rest of the buildings with eye-catching façade greenery and a central main entrance to the north for the visitor and training center. The energy technology is absolutely contemporary and will consist of air-source heat pumps, through which the building will be heated, cooled and ventilated. The PV system ensures climate-friendly and efficient cooling of the building.

Symbolically, the representatives present filled a time capsule with various mementos. Economics Minister Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut placed a robot in the capsule as a symbol of artificial intelligence. “Today we are laying an important foundation stone for one of the very great innovation policy visions of the state government to become reality,” said the minister, who at the same time emphasized the importance of AI, a technology of the future: “AI promises enormous growth and value creation potential, of which we want to realize as much as possible in the state.” She said she was pleased that Ipai would be a sustainable AI value-creation center with international appeal, from which the entire country would benefit.

Great demand
The first rented space – around 1250 m2 – for offices in the building opposite was occupied at the beginning of September and is already fully booked. “We are overjoyed that our plan for the Innovation Park has been so well received,” explains Reinhold Geilsdörfer. Preparations for the urban planning competition for the development of the main Steinäcker site are already in full swing, so that the competition can start this year.”

Anchoring AI knowledge broadly
The largest ecosystem for artificial intelligence in Europe is being established at Ipai. This is where companies, startups, applied research and academia, current and future talent, and public sector stakeholders come together to work synergy-driven on AI-based software products and solutions, network, educate, and inform. For this purpose, Ipai offers optimal innovation conditions with state-of-the-art infrastructure. The Ipai emerged from a competitive process of the Ministry of Economy, Labor and Tourism of Baden-Württemberg”, for which the state parliament of the country has allocated up to 50 million euros. The Heilbronn entry submitted by the city of Heilbronn, Stadtsiedlung Heilbronn GmbH and the Dieter Schwarz Foundation prevailed in the competition. On July 27, 2021, the Council of Ministers of the State of Baden-Württemberg decided to implement the Innovation Park in Heilbronn.

Picture: Nico Kurth