25. January 2016

Upper Austria, the Centre of Steel: Leading Companies Trust in Research at K1-MET

The K1-MET competence centre for metallurgical and environmental engineering processes based in Linz and Leoben has been restructured. After seven years as a cooperative venture consisting of leading industrial enterprises and universities, the research and development projects will now be conducted by an independent company.

New technologies, optimization of production processes and minimization of energy consumption and emissions are the key areas of research that form the basis of further cementing Austria's position as a global leader in metallurgy. The K1-MET competence centre serves as an innovation generator in the field of metallurgical processes and environmental engineering technology and as a trendsetter at the intersection of science and industry. Industry in Upper Austria is on a very solid footing. Accordingly, the research fields are geared to industry's needs, with special emphasis being placed on cooperation between science and research.

Left to right: Andreas Flick (Chief Technology Officer Upstream, Primetals Technologies Austria GmbH), Dr. Franz Androsch (Head of Research, voestalpine Stahl GmbH), Thomas Bürgler (CEO, K1-MET GmbH), Thomas Stelzer (deputy governor of Upper Austria), Prof. Dr. Wilfried Eichlseder (chancellor of Montanuniversität Leoben), Prof. Dr. Meinhard Lukas (chancellor of the Johannes Kepler University Linz), Dr. Wilfried Enzenhofer, MBA (CEO, Upper Austrian Research GmbH)

K1-MET GmbH is owned by voestalpine and the Montanuniversität Leoben who each hold 35%, while the two owners from the science sector are Primetals Technologies with a share of 20% and the Johannes Kepler University Linz with 10%. The company's scientific partner in Upper Austria is the Johannes Kepler University Linz. This unique ownership structure, with representatives from industry, technology and science, is an essential factor for the cooperative research conducted by the competence centre. The direct transfer of the findings from development to application makes immediate verification possible, and this in turn means the project partners play an outstanding role in international competition.

"Innovative materials technologies and production technologies are extremely important for Upper Austria as a centre of research and industry," says Councillor Stelzer. "We are delighted that the K1-MET competence centre for metallurgical and environmental engineering processes has gained in importance thanks to the foundation of this company. The synergies with university and non-university research institutes on the one hand, and with Upper Austrian businesses on the other, are tremendous. The focus that leading companies in Upper Austria have on using steel and aluminium as materials and on the corresponding process technologies makes research and development work in this sector indispensable to ensure that Upper Austria remains competitive as an innovative region."

Left to right: Thomas Bürgler (CEO, K1-MET GmbH), Thomas Stelzer (deputy governor of Upper Austria), Prof. Dr. Wilfried Eichlseder (chancellor of Montanuniversität Leoben)

The longstanding cooperation with the province of Styria has proved extremely worthwhile. The Montanuniversität as an owner of K1-MET is a valuable partner in metallurgy. But this is not the only cooperative venture we share with Styria: we also conduct research together under the COMET funding scheme and on the joint call "Smart Mobility" as part of the strategic business and research programme "Innovatives OÖ2020".

Overall, Upper Austria's research is on a solid footing. The province has a balanced mixture of university and non-university research as well as flourishing research companies. The Johannes Kepler University Linz, the Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences, the associated companies of Upper Austrian Research and other research institutes along with many innovative companies provide first-class research resources that Upper Austria can build on in the future.

"In our work relating to research policy in the province of Upper Austria, we are actively supported by Upper Austrian Research GmbH (UAR)," says Stelzer." UAR, which itself has shares in nine prestigious research centres, works as the leading research company of the province of Upper Austria on developing research programmes that aim to establish and extend research competence in the core sectors of the province's industry and thereby provide a research structure in Upper Austria that is geared to the future. Since 2011, UAR has coordinated all activities under the COMET scheme in Upper Austria and has initiated a number of measures. The company also played a central role in the reorganization of K1-MET."

On 13 July 2015, the fourth call for K1 centres in the COMET programme was started. The result of the call is expected for the summer of 2016.

Photos: Cityfoto / Roland Pelzl