Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. E. h. Max Syrbe (1929–2011) had an interesting philosophy, once writing that “Human performance is proportional to the product of ability and motivation.” To the very end of his life, the former President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and long-standing Chairman of the Steinbeis Board of Trustees shared this belief with conviction. A scientist and researcher, for Max Syrbe the main priority was to ensure scientific achievement was not just an end in itself. Instead, science should work in synergy with specific application. For Syrbe there was no contradiction in generating knowledge and conducting research, and he openly defended the need for sufficient freedom in the pursuit of research. Knowledge and research are a necessity, working in combination such that one establishes a solid foundation while the other provides a basis for specific application, which ultimately furnishes the means for laying more foundations. The Max Syrbe Symposium is organized by the Steinbeis Foundation in order to discuss the prerequisites that need to be fulfilled to manage science and research successfully.