New opportunities in biotechnology

Luckenwalde is using funding aid from URBAN II to further develop its local biotechnology park as a training location and thereby create perspectives for employment, teaching and economic development.

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Background

Since German reunification in 1990 a radical change has taken place in Luckenwalde, a small city of just 22 500 inhabitants lying 60 km south of Berlin. The social and economic changes following reunification produced an exodus of in particular younger inhabitants, weakened the local economy and led to a shortage of training possibilities and jobs.

Investing in the future

One of Luckenwalde’s trump cards for encouraging economic development and creating future-oriented jobs in the region is its extensive biotechnology park. Initially, however, it lacked a training provision as a means of encouraging its development. The companies that had moved there – many of them start-ups - were still at the scientific research and product development stages. On the one hand they were unable to carry the costs of vocational training, on the other a shortage of well-trained laboratory workers was looming.

For developing the Luckenwalde biotechnology park as a training location, four projects were developed in the context of the URBAN II Community initiative.

The first project consisted of the construction of a biotechnology initial and further training centre (2002). Vocational training courses started in 2002 and 2003 for biology lab workers. To complete the professional spectrum a course for 16 chemistry lab workers was begun in 2004.

Preparatory work on this complex project started at the beginning of 2000.

Training is based on a “cooperation model” between the training institutes, the federal state government, the URBAN management of the city of Luckenwalde and the companies located in the biotechnology park.

The companies selected the trainees and looked after them with student trainee (Praktikant) status during the two-year general training period. For the remaining 1.5 years they took them on as trainee employees.

Results

The Biotechnology Training Centre is today a major local asset. As the trainees move on into the companies, Luckenwalde expects to be successful in its efforts to stem the outward migration of qualified young persons.

Even without URBAN funding the training programme continues: in 2005, some 60 mainly female trainees were trained for the promising profession of laboratory assistant. This has also contributed to promoting equality of opportunity and stemming their migration away from the area. To increase the attractiveness of the city and region, the authorities are currently discussing bringing in a higher education institute for biotechnology.

Particularly successful here has been the “cooperation model” between government, training centre and private business. This model could potentially be transferred to other regions and encourage them to identify the missing elements for economic structural transformation in a process of active communication between local and regional public government, associations and economic companies, and to promote solutions with the help of public funding.


Draft date

01/03/2006