Sunday, April 2, 2017


Markus Limberger, Managing Director of
Max Berek Innovation Lab GmbH

The Max Berek Innovation Lab of Leica Camera AG, which is designed to explore the future of optical systems, is taking up work close to the Leica headquarters at the Spilburg Industrial Park in Wetzlar

The idea was born in China a year ago.  In the spring of 2016, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Leica Camera AG's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, and Ren Zhengfei, founder of the up-and-coming telephone provider Huawei, were talking about optical technologies and their future perspectives. It was clear for the two men that the cooperation of their companies for the joint development of smartphone cameras should also deal with this type of advanced technological development. The idea of a research and development laboratory in which pioneering future technologies and the further development of optical systems was explored. This idea is now reality and has a name: Max Berek Innovation Lab.

Smart minds are gathered here to deal not only with classical optical technologies, but also with software, process technology and storage media of the next generation.

The Max Berek Innovation Lab was launched last year.  It bears the name of the former head lens designer at Leica, Max Berek.  The Managing Director is Markus Limberger.

Limberger has been a COO of Leica Camera AG for more than six years. "The aim of the research and development center is to generate future-oriented IP, where we are a service provider for all who deal with optical technologies and their future." Already before the official start of the lab, the company is characterized by promising cooperations with universities, for example with the University of Marburg, and the Technical University of Mittelhessen. The Wetzlar Network, an industry network for the areas of optics, electronics and mechanics, is also very interested in this venture.

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Up to 20 employees will be active in the rented offices near Leitz Park. The team includes experienced Leica experts as well as "fresh blood" from all sorts of IT areas. Also doctoral students and master students will research here and think about the future. Interdisciplinary and cultural diversity is very much desired in order to revitalize the think-tank in terms of optics on a regular basis.

In the laboratory, it is not about the actual further development of products, emphasizes the Leica technical board, but basic research, that is, the development of optical future technologies, independent of deadline and sales pressure.

Since 2013, Leica Camera AG has continuously provided budgets for non-product-related developments. The Max Berek Innovation Lab is now the next step. The graduate engineer knows very well that the failure rate is relatively high for such projects. Much more, however, is the chance that smart technologies, smartphones, cameras and industrial applications, which are now being developed in Wetzlar, will characterize them in ten years' time. "We want to play a master role." This is an approach that is strongly supported and promoted Leica.

For example, Limberger is intensively interested in the "Internet of Things", for example, the "seeing" refrigerator, which knows when milk expires and provides for supplies independently. "And so," says Limberger, "the optics come into play again."

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