10. March 2014

High-tech for the world

Niche and top of the range, with the main revenue sources abroad and multicultural employees

The Active-Space-Team
Some of the companies in Adlershof are firm international favourites in their industries. Their employees are multicultural, which stimulates ideas and business. The location itself has become visible in the international arena as a high-tech melting pot.

In the corridors of Active Space Technologies GmbH, English is spoken as a matter of course – it is the unofficial official language of Adlershof. The working environment also benefits from this, reports boss Riccardo Nadalini, because 90 percent of his 19 employees, almost half of whom are women, don't come from Germany - they come from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Iran, India, Russia, Turkey, the USA... "It's almost easier to count the countries we don't have any employee from," jokes Nadalini.

He himself came to Germany from Italy 15 years ago. In the early days, he worked for the German Aerospace Centre before founding his own fine little aerospace technology company. This company made a global name for itself as a specialist in heating and energy management, and among other things was involved in NASA's "InSight" Mars mission. The company only recently moved out of the founders' centre into newer, larger premises. "We grew quickly," says Nadalini.

This was also possible as a result of the international spirit flowing through the company: "in Germany, there really is a lack of skilled employees, but we were able to get round this because we could recruit employees from around the world without any problems," explains Nadalini. In the polyglot environment, everyone settles in well regardless of their nationality. The brightly coloured team also brings an additional, key advantage: "it makes it easy to work with clients around the world, because there's always somebody here who knows the culture," says Nadalini.

Understanding other cultures, particularly their aesthetic opinions, is essential for the IFS Design team. Among other things, the Adlershof industrial designers led by boss Jochen Dittrich have designed the new Berlin tram and the metros in Paris, Beijing, Helsinki and Tianjin, the Zillertal Railway and the tram in San Diego.

San Diego is also home to a subsidiary of HOLOEYE Photonics AG, which specialises in microdisplays and microoptics. "It was clear to us from the start that the company needed to operate internationally," says CEO Sven Krüger. The USA and Asia play a particularly significant role – Krüger highlights the facts that clients and partners there work as "drivers for ideas and trend setters". This has resulted in, among other things, microoptics for laser applications, microdisplays for video projectors for industrial use and projectors, which became the company's core business. In the very focused market in which HOLOEYE operates, the company is an international favourite and one of the technological leaders. This international visibility is almost mandatory for Krüger: "the more specialised products and services are, the more international the company needs to operate. That applies to a lot of high-tech companies here," he says.

Holger Wenschuh, CEO of JPT Peptide Technologies GmbH, can only agree. In its industry, the biotechnology firm is seen as one of the leading providers of innovative, peptide-based services and products for biomedicinal research, for example when developing new vaccines to prevent illnesses or biomarker tests for the early recognition of diseases. The company, which employs 60 people, has branches in Boston, Denver and Brussels. "We make most of our revenue abroad," says Wenschuh. Operations in Germany only account for around 20%, 25% is made in Europe, 40% in the USA and the remaining 15% in China, Japan, India, Australia and Korea. At home in Adlershof, staff from France, Poland, Peru, Belgium, Zambia and the USA research the medicine of tomorrow.

"In the past few years, this location has become noticeably more international as a result of the high-tech firms, congresses and the students here," observes Wenschuh. "Something's happened, you can see it on the street." And you can tell, as HOLOEYE boss Krüger says: "Many of the foreign clients who visit us here have other meetings in Adlershof when we are finished." For Krüger, there's no doubt about it: "the location is perceived to be international."

by Chris Löwer