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Company November 2023

The future is open, and it will be a good one!

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz took the opportunity to find out more about the planned project Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence (Ipai). At the invitation of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, he informed himself about this pioneering applied artificial intelligence project (AI) on Sunday, November 12, 2023.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz at Ipai Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence (Ipai) during a visit to the Dieter Schwarz Foundation's educational campus. Alongside him: Reinhold Geilsdörfer (r), Managing Director of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, Silke Lohmiller (l), Managing Director of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, Harry Mergel (2nd from left), Mayor of the City of Heilbronn, and Gerd Chrzanowski (3rd from l), General Partner of the Schwarz Group, as well as Kristina Schunk, CEO of SCHUNK SE & Co. KG (outside right) among others.
Image: Federal Government/Marijan Murat

"We are experiencing a new beginning here, a future for Germany, and I am very impressed that this is also happening thanks to a very strong private-sector initiative by the Schwarz Foundation," said Olaf Scholz in Heilbronn. The Federal German Chancellor found out how the initiative will contribute to a positive development thanks to the ingenuity of companies and to researchers having pooled together their skills. He praised the Ipai project, in particular because AI is a major topic for the future of Germany, and does not need to be imported from other countries. "No, we have the best chance of helping to ensure that we can keep up with the global competition with our own skills. This also strengthens our technological sovereignty," stated Olaf Scholz. "So the future is definitely open, and it can also be a very good one - and this is a place where they are working in it."

The pioneers of the future meet in Heilbronn.

The hosts of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, Silke Lohmiller and Prof. Rreinhold Geilsdörfer made it clear at this event that the pioneers of the future had come together here in Heilbronn - companies, start-ups, associations, researchers and universities. They will pool their respective resources and expertise and solve future challenges with the key technology AI. SCHUNK has bee a strategic partner of the Ipai innovation ecosystem in Heilbronn since the beginning, bringing technologies and people together in one place.

Kristina I. Schunk: "AI only works in a strong network"

Other participants included Gerd Chrzanowski, Chairman of the Schwarz Group, Rolf Schumann, CEO Schwarz Digits, Moritz Gräter, CEO Ipai, Harry Mergel, Mayor of Heilbronn, Jonas Andrulis, founder and CEO Aleph Alpha, Bettina Volkens, CEO and cofounder great2know, John Holzhauer, founder and CEO Semorai, and Kristina I. Schunk, CEO SCHUNK. "AI helps us and other German and European companies to remain competitive and fit for the future," emphasized Kristina I. Schunk. "It only functions in a strong network and with valuable collaborations. This is where skills and experience can be exchanged, but also where new products, services and business models can be created," the SCHUNK CEO pointed out. "AI enables logical, further innovation steps. In combination with the hardware - including our components from toolholding and workholding, gripping technology and automation technology - products and services become more intelligent. This enables them to solve the complex requirements of our customers even better."

Strengthening trust in AI on a broad scale

The central idea behind Ipai is to create an innovation platform for trustworthy AI for the benefit of society. This is because there are still many reservations and misgivings about AI - this was also highlighted in the expert discussions held by those present from politics, economy and society during the event. Various facets of AI as well as challenges and potentials were highlighted. The advantages for SMEs, training and the recruitment of skilled workers, as well as the expansion of research and the promotion of AI talents, were just as much a topic of discussion as cyber security, regulation, governance and German AI ecosystems in a European and international comparison.
From 2024, a visitor center will also be built in the first dedicated Iapi building in the immediate vicinity of the current location in the "Wohlgelegen" future park in Heilbronn, where AI can be experienced and presented in an understandable way. By the end of 2026, the complete infrastructure should be in place at the final location of the AI quarter in the "Steinäcker" area in the north of the city.