The first spade of soil for the Centre for Industrial Electronics (CIE) in Sønderborg was turned over today. The centre is the result of an exceptional regional initiative and a unique collaboration between business community, university, region and municipality.
The CIE will be the home of three new Engineering programmes and research at an international level, and it will meet corporate demands for skilled labour.
A historic initiative was taken last summer when industrial parties, the Region of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg Municipality and SDU joined forces to address the shortage of electronics engineers in Southern Denmark. The result was the establishment of the Centre for Industrial Electronics (CIE) in Sønderborg. The five partners – Danfoss A/S, Linak A/S, the Region of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg Municipality and SDU – have invested a total of DKK 176 million in the project.
Local success bites its own tail
The background for the establishment of CIE is bittersweet. Southern Denmark has an extraordinary position of strength in the field of energy-efficient technologies, and there is a strong ecosystem and high concentration of companies around Sønderborg in particular. The sector has an annual export rate of DKK 34 billion and is thus one of the major players in Danish exports. At the same time, the sector has struggled for many years to procure sufficiently skilled labour within the technical field, as well as engineers. In view of electronics increasingly becoming a prerequisite for consolidating and creating growth in the sector, it is crucial that the proper skilled labour is available. This is why the five partners have collaborated on establishing the Centre for Industrial Electronics.
New beacon for industrial electronics
The first spade of soil for the physical framework of the Centre for Industrial Electronics was turned over today. The building, financed by Bitten & Mads Clausen’s Foundation and LINAK A/S, will be an extension of the Alsion building in Sønderborg. The building will have an approximate total surface of 3,300 square metres split over five floors. It will be connected with the rest of SDU in Sønderborg by a glass gangway.
The new building will house laboratories, testing facilities and project rooms that will help to ensure study and research at a high international level. The centre will create value for the companies in their innovation and product development, just as it will inspire SDU’s researchers and provide a solid basis for training the engineers that the companies are looking for.
The CIE will provide companies in Southern Denmark with easy access to the latest knowledge and most talented minds, allowing them to create new ground-breaking solutions for customers and growth in the region.
The new building will be completed in the summer of 2019.
Quotes from participants
“There are companies in Als and in Sønderborg with global perspectives. They need the best engineers. By constructing a CIE building with the most up-to-date facilities, Linak and Bitten & Mads Clausen’s Foundation will ensure that these engineers are also trained locally.” - Per Have, CEO of Bitten & Mads Clausen’s Foundation
“I hope we will enter into even more partnerships like this. We know exactly where there are difficulties regionally, and we know what our positions of strength and resources are regionally. This means that together we can find solutions that work and create growth.” - Stephanie Lose (V), President of Southern Denmark Regional Council
“As mayor, this is a fantastic day for me. The new centre means that Sønderborg carries even more weight as a university city and an attractive place to study. This demonstrates what can be achieved when the business community, the region, SDU and the municipality join forces and act together. The new centre will ensure that we have more attractive educational programmes. It will also enable us to support our companies in attracting highly specialized employees.
“Sønderborg Municipality is committed to maintaining our position as a strong university city and attracting young people from the region and the rest of the country to our educational programmes. We have invested heavily in new student accommodation, building a new youth club and securing more educational programmes for Sønderborg Municipality.” - Erik Lauritzen (A), Mayor of Sønderborg Municipality
“The CIE is a materialisation of our close collaboration with the industry. This collaboration not only illustrates that SDU is experimental and innovative, but also works across familiar boundaries. We are extremely happy that the parties have invested heavily in the CIE. This means we are able to set up a centre for research and study at a very high international level. We would like to repay this by producing engineers that will not just help the parties but the entire region.” - Professor Dr Horst-Günter Rubahn, Acting Head of CIE and Director of the Mads Clausen Institute
"It is crucial for Danfoss that we have access to the latest knowledge and the most skilled minds – to be able to continue the journey by creating new, groundbreaking energy-efficient solutions for our customers. CIE addresses the challenges of the lack of electronics engineers we experience - and we continue our long and close cooperation with the university. We are happy and proud to be a key part of this project. "- Troels H. Petersen, Senior Vice President hos Danfoss, Chairman for Mads Clausen instituttet, SDU
“The Centre for Industrial Electronics has grown from the healthy and close relationships we have with the region, municipality and businesses in the region. We would like to acknowledge the collaboration in the years to come by recruiting talented students and training them as engineers. We will ensure they are given the proper competences so as to help meet the challenges in the region.” - Bjarne Graabech Sørensen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at SDU
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Two of the three new Engineering programmes will admit the first students this year, while the third, a Master’s degree programme, will start next year.
Work to support a steady increase in admissions over the next 10 years is in progress, enabling SDU to admit 170 students a year in Industrial Electronics programmes by the time the plan has been fully implemented.
There will be a need to employ approx. 1,400 graduates in the Sønderborg area by 2020, but in view of the current development it is estimated that there will only be 600.
This means that there will be a shortage of 800 graduates, particularly engineers in the fields of electronics, mechatronics and IT. This is why the parties have taken action.
Bitten & Mads Clausen’s Foundation and Linak have invested between DKK 60 and 80 million in the construction of the five-floor, approx. 3,300-square-metre building for the CIE, which is located south of the other blocks of the Alsion building.
In connection with the presentation of a new technology pact, the Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Brian Mikkelsen, allowed himself to be interviewed for ‘Ingeniøren’ (The Engineer), where he emphasised the new types of Engineering programmes available at the University of Southern Denmark in Sønderborg as an example of what the government wishes to achieve. With this technology pact, the government aims to support voluntary collaborations between companies, educational institutions, organisations and public actors in order to encourage more people to acquire competences in this area – of which the Centre for Industrial Electronics is a shining example.
Much has taken place since the group of partners agreed to finance the establishment of the CIE on 20 June 2017. The first appointments have been announced. A head of CIE has been found and will commence duties in August. The CIE has gained admittance as a competence centre at European Cluster Power Electronics, ECPEU. The government has approved the educational programmes. Furthermore, the first 29 young people from all over Europe applied to be on the programme in March 2018.
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