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Ann Arbor Spark

June 30, 2015

Connecting with Our Sister City, Tübingen, Germany

Written by Phil Santer, VP of Business Development

This week, Ann Arbor SPARK is fortunate to participate in the City of Ann Arbor’s Sister City relationship with Tübingen, Germany. Tübingen has many similarities to Ann Arbor – it is a historic town near Stuttgart, in an industrial region centered around a university. Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to showcase the Ann Arbor region to visitors from Tübingen, including a focus on Ann Arbor’s life science cluster.

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For SPARK, this relationship has provided an opportunity to learn more about a region that has contributed much to Michigan’s economy. Germany continues to be one of the most active countries in new investment into the U.S., and in Michigan. Literally thousands of people in Michigan work for German-owned companies. Last year, German investment in Michigan was significant and included local projects like Eberspaecher’s expansion in Brighton – more than doubling their building and bringing new operations into the region. Suffice to say, Germany is a key market for new job growth in our state and our region, and a strategic focus for SPARK.

This relationship has given us an opportunity to learn about Tübingen’s regional economy, identify partnerships and investment opportunities in Michigan, and connect with our existing German-based companies in new ways.

IMG_7772 IMG_7775On Monday, BioRegio STERN and the German American Institute organized a meeting with several companies in the life science sector, which they knew was vital to Ann Arbor because of what we showcased during their visit. We toured CeGaT, a genetic diagnostic company, and CureVac, a company that is using RNA to vaccinate and provide new therapies to people around the world. CureVac recently announced a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support their vaccine work. We worked to identify companies in our region that may benefit from knowing these technologies and companies.

We also had an opportunity to meet with Zoller, one of Ann Arbor’s growing German companies. We saw an impressive facility, where new products are shipped with pictures of their employees to demonstrate the quality of their products. We also met Ann Arbor-based employees that were in town for training, a process that Zoller takes very seriously, investing months of training in each of their employees. We also saw the successful relationship that Zoller has built with local universities, where students can work and study simultaneously, and provide a clear pipeline of new talent for the company to engage upon graduation. These types of deliberate relationships are vital to the talent attraction strategy for midsize companies, and is one that we can continue to learn from in the U.S.

This week is packed with new ideas, new relationships, and engagement with companies considering investment in the Ann Arbor region. We look forward to growing these partnerships and opportunities for our companies and our region.