To grasp Jena's enthusiasm for science, look no further than its basketball team: When the German research nexus became the national City of Science 2008, "POM Baskets" dropped its old moniker and became "Science City Jena."
Intellectuals have flocked to the university town for the last 450 years, among them Goethe and Hegel, but the last two decades have seen nearly 15 research institutions spring up, including three Max Planck institutes and the University of Applied Sciences. One in four people in Jena is a student, the numbers of which have quadrupled since 1990, and scientists at the city's Friedrich Schiller University hold the most patent applications in biology, chemistry, and physics nationwide. Academic research is far from the only game in town, however, as Jena is the home of optics giant Carl Zeiss AG, makers of lenses, microscopes, and planetariums since 1847. Other companies like glassmaker Schott AG and optics firm Jenoptik are likewise powerhouses in private research and development.
The student population in Jena has quadrupled since 1990, with enrollment at Friedrich Schiller University and the University of Applied Sciences growing by thousands nearly every year.
Jena's population is heavily skewed towards early career professionals and academics: The city provides copious support for young families, with more than 55 daycare centers and 35 schools, and the Carl Zeiss-sponsored secondary school trains new mathematicians and scientists for the city's research juggernaut. Goethe's remark that Jena was "a place piled with knowledge" has never been truer, as the City of Science comes of age.Nikki Greenwood
Emergent Science City: Jena, Germany
Posted November 20, 2008
Originally appeared in Seed 19