Locations -- GE Picks Garching For German R&D Initiative

The U.S.-based conglomerate plans its first technical center in Europe.

Facility: General Electric Co. is building an R&D center on the Garching campus of the Technical University of Munich, Germany. It is the Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate's first technical center in Europe. Construction of the research and development center, which will be part of GE Global Research, is expected to start during the current calendar quarter, with the facility beginning operations early in 2004. Some 25 researchers will be hired in the next nine months, with the number of researchers expected to increase to 150 by 2005. The European R&D center will pursue efforts in several areas, concentrating on development projects in renewable energy, medical imaging and materials science. Plans also include developing advanced applications of materials and lighting technology for the automotive industry. Corporate Strategy: Locating an R&D facility in Europe makes sense to GE for several reasons, not the least of which is a desire to bring advanced technology development closer to its customers in both Germany and the rest of Europe. Germany also is home to more than 8,000 GE employees. Locating near Munich makes sense because it is "very strong in innovation, market potential and technology," says GE Research communications manager Jim Healy. And, the Technical University of Munich "is one of the premier technical universities in Europe," he adds. GE is developing a formal research collaboration agreement with the university. Bavaria, the German state of which Munich is the capital, has offered to lend support to strategic research collaboration that is of interest to both it and GE, Healy notes. When completed, the European facility will be the fourth of GE Global Research's R&D centers worldwide. It will join the headquarters research site in Niskayuna, N.Y., itself the recipient of a $100 million expansion announced earlier this year; the John F. Welch Technology Center in Bangalore, India, which opened in 2000; and an R&D center under construction in Shanghai, China, and slated to open early this year. Community: Garching, a community of about 16,000, is located about nine miles outside the city limits of Munich. GE's neighbors include several technical and scientific institutions, including the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory, an intragovernmental European organization for astronomical research, and four institutes of the Max Planck Society that are devoted to basic research in physics. However, while R&D may define Garching, nearby Munich, Germany's third-largest city with a population of about 1.3 million, is a definite tourist destination. The city is filled with museums, theaters and historic churches. It's also known for its beer gardens and the storied annual Oktoberfest celebration. Locations profiles selected siting and facility strategies by manufacturing companies. Send submissions to Senior Editor John S. McClenahen at jmcclenahen@industryweek.com.

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