The development of the Fraunhofer IBMT location in Sulzbach is of great importance for the future of the institute, and reflects the structural development in the Saar-Lor-Lux region. The site expansion is focused on biomaterial banking in connection with the automation of in vitro cultures of animal and human cells – which is indispensable for this purpose – as well as molecular and cellular diagnostics for research and industrial applications in biotechnology and medicine. The basis for this was created by two large cryobanks: "Eurocryo Saar" and the "Cryorepository" of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
From 2008 until 2015 the following tasks have been completed:
- Establishment of an upscalable and innovative infrastructure for transferring research results to industrial usage at the Sulzbach location.
- Extension of the existing storage capacity of cryobanks and addition of further biomaterial banks.
- Establishment of new fields in cellular biotechnology and medicine (in vitro culture systems as well as molecular and genomic diagnostics) on the basis of pilot projects and their preparation with regard to industrial implementation.
- Elaboration of a concept for construction planning and realization of a centre for medically oriented biotechnology that will allow the development of a long-term and sustainable biotechnology infrastructure in the form of a complex of buildings in the centre of Europe at the Sulzbach location in cooperation with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (BIOMAT Centre).
The tendering procedure for the architectural and engineering services took place in 2009. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the first planning discussions were held with the offices selected in the tendering procedure. About 50 offices had applied. The design proposed by the Stuttgart-based architects’ office hammeskrause was finally selected for implementation. Due to a transparent and, despite its size, almost delicate facade structure on the front area facing the visitor, the previously sober industrial building from the 1960s had been converted into a modern building in line with its function and institutional content. The other views retained their sober, clearly structured industrial hall character in order not to intrude on the townscape as it has been for more than 40 years. Demolition work and construction of the new premises begun in October 2011. The construction progress in the years 2012 and 2013 with the newly created atriums already gave a hint of the generosity of the architectural design. The good structuring and the versatility of the premises facilitate the subsequent use of offices, laboratories and functional areas.
In the first step in May 2015, the institute management, administration, human resources department and press and public relations department moved into the building at the Sulzbach location. They were joined in the following months by the new main department of Medical Biotechnology.