R&D-heavy German federal agency looking to work with SA companies

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The Free State of Thuringia has always been well known as an innovative, attractive economic and technological centre. (iStock)
The Free State of Thuringia has always been well known as an innovative, attractive economic and technological centre. (iStock)
  • The development agency of a German federal state is looking for opportunities to collaborate with local companies.
  • The federal state of Thuringia is a leader in terms of innovation and development in Germany
  • In 2021 they want to look at possible co-operation with SA in sectors like digitalisation, photonics and life sciences.


The State Development Agency of the Free State of Thuringia (LEG Thüringen) in Germany is looking for opportunities in SA for companies from that federal state of Germany, and also for chances to cooperate with suitable companies in South Africa.

According to Anja Tambusso-Ferraz, of the regional representative for the Western and Eastern Cape of the SA-German Chamber of Commerce, and who represents the State Development Agency of the Free State of Thuringia, she sees a lot of potential for cooperation and is currently looking for opportunities to create collaborations. 

LEG Thüringen is, therefore, building relationships and she assists companies from Thuringia to enter the SA market and also the wider SADC region.

"Thuringia is very strong in Germany with innovation and development. It has 10 000 scientists within renowned universities and research institutes like Fraunhofer, Leipnitz Institute. It is also strong in doing research in close cooperation with businesses," says Tambusso-Ferraz.

"There [already] are some real good interactions and business ventures developing between SA and Thuringia – for example in the fields of sustainable building concepts, e-mobility, medical equipment and R&D projects in the field of sustainable textiles." 

In 2021 they also want to look at possible co-operations in sectors like digitalisation, and photonics/optical technologies and are planning a more intense focus on activities in the life science sector.

LEG Thüringen has through its department "Thüringen International", been creating a global network of international representative offices that are available as local contacts to Thuringian companies that wish to develop new export markets, expand existing ones, wish to set up sales structures or enter joint ventures abroad.

"The Free State of Thuringia has always been well known as an innovative, attractive economic and technological centre in the heart of Europe," says Tambusso-Ferraz. "Typical characteristics of its local economic structure are small and medium-sized businesses. These businesses are supported world-wide by the state government through Thuringia International as central contact point for developing new markets."

She says Thuringia boasts a diversified industrial sector that ranges from the food to the automotive industry to high-tech industries such as biotechnology and optics industries as well as electrical engineering, electronics, mechanical engineering, ICT and digitalization, plastics, energy and environmental technologies and life sciences. It also has an efficient craft sector and a growing service sector.

"We are looking forward to another year of enabling and supporting business opportunities, synergies and innovative co-operations and joint-ventures between companies from the Free State of Thuringia and the SADC region," says Tambusso-Ferraz. "In SA I would like to see them cooperate with local companies to find sustainable solutions by working on various projects. We need to look at more sustainability in relation to the economy, production and empowerment."

In her view, great synergies can be created between SA and Thuringia, like sustainable production and development of the building industry.

"With digitisation, for example, some say it might take away jobs, but at the end of the day one needs to use digitisation to enhance production, increase manufacturing output and exports, and thereby create more jobs," says Tambusso-Ferraz.

"One can look at smart mobility and transport or the rollout of energy, for example, in a cross sectoral way. One needs the whole digital space to foster that and always work together with research and industry. Research in Thuringia is always done in collaboration with business."

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