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“At Garching we are building something unique in the world”

“At Garching we are building something unique in the world”

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Siemens Headquarters: The Munich company is investing a lot of money in a new research center in Garching. © Sven Hoppe / German Press Agency

Peter Court, Head of Technology and Strategy at Siemens, talks about a €100 million investment in the Munich region.

Garching – Siemens invests €100 million in Garching (Munich region). The largest of the group's twelve research sites will be built here. Head of Technology and Strategy Peter Korti explains the idea behind this.

Garching aims to become the most important research site in the Siemens Group. Why did you choose Bavaria and not Silicon Valley in California or Bangalore in India?

It's not a question of “or”, but rather of “and”. In addition to Garching, we have research sites around the world, including India and California. 2,000 people work in Siemens research worldwide. But it's true: Garshing will become our most important research site.

But why this location of all places?

This is because there are 2,000 Siemens researchers worldwide, about 1,000 of whom are already in Munich-Neuberlach – and are now moving to Garching. And you can't simply replace researchers, so we stay in the area. But Neuperlach is a fairly remote location.

And garshing?

In Garching, Siemens opens up to the world. At Garshing we are building something unique and never seen before in the world. In 2027, more than 1,000 Siemens researchers will work in Garching, and 150 people from the Technical University of Munich will move into the building with us. In Garching, we move away from the spatial concept as in Neuperlach, where you can still do some research without disturbance. We are moving towards an environment where people work together in a network. This is new in research.

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What are the benefits of contacting TU Munich?

TU Munich is the best technical university in Germany and one of the best universities in Europe. A number of start-ups have sprung up around TU, and already established companies have settled on the Garching campus, for example, the SAP building is right next door. Collaboration is very important, especially in digital research.

What exactly is Siemens currently looking for?

In a business like Siemens, research should always lead to a tangible product. At Neuperlach, our research focus has been on microelectronics since the 1970s, and now comes the next step: industrial transformation.

Terms like “industrial transformation” sound very abstract. What does that mean specifically?

Example: If we build a factory for a customer today, that factory will exist twice. On the one hand, in the real world, this is where the machines are, this is where all the processes take place, and this is where matter moves back and forth. At the same time, there is a digital image of this factory, where all the processes occurring in reality are mirrored in real time.

what is the point?

The advantage is that we can implement “if so” scenarios at any time in the digital factory. We can simulate what happens, for example, if a machine breaks down. Or a couple of years ago we had a situation where there were delivery bottlenecks around the world. In the digital world, we can instantly check what happens if a factory runs out of parts and we can adapt our production to that shortage scenario in real life.

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It seems ironic that personal contact seems to be so important in digital research. Clearly, video conference cannot replace coffee with neighbors on the Garshing Campus.

Research, especially digital research, is about trust. You need to know who you want to share data with. Therefore, the personal component is very important. You have to know each other, you have to know that you can depend on each other. Technological development occurs so rapidly that not every little detail can be contractually secured in advance.

What are you particularly looking forward to at Garching?

We have a room here called the Art Center. For example, there are self-driving transportation systems that can communicate and interact with each other. We will see such systems more and more in factories in the future. These systems are already in operation in Garching today.