In 2007, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research launched a competition advertised with the slogan “Germany’s Leading-Edge Clusters – more innovation, more growth, more employment”. Fifteen clusters were selected in three rounds of the competition. Especially the regional concentration of innovative players is a key characteristic of each cluster. The basis for the selection and funding of a leading-edge cluster is the development of common strategic goals and the definition of future development projects in a particular technological area. The involvement of the key players in the region’s innovation and value-added chains is also a major prerequisite. Each cluster is funded for 5 years. However, the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS is a reliable partner in two of these leading-edge clusters of Germany. One is the cluster “Cool Silicon” in Saxony and the second one is “It’s OWL” in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The aim of the leading-edge cluster “Cool Silicon” is to build the technology basis for a massive increase of energy efficiency in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. The cluster started its work in 2009 and got funding until 2014. However, the cluster is still active. Currently there are 60 partners working within the network, dealing with micro and nanotechnologies, integration and application as well as material integration and reliability.
Starting in 2012, 174 companies, universities, research institutes of the region East-Westphalia-Lippe are working within the leading-edge cluster “It’s OWL”. The aim of the cluster is to develop smart technical systems for companies working in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and automotive. The contribution of the department Advanced System Engineering of Fraunhofer ENAS within this cluster focuses on intelligent self-organized wireless sensor nodes and sensor networks.