“Technology transfer in this state is working well!...?” – a topic that 170 visitors to the second Max Syrbe Symposium were invited to examine in the Stuttgart House of Commerce (Haus der Wirtschaft) on March 26, 2014. This year’s symposium was all about interaction, with representatives of universities, colleges, businesses, research institutes and trade organizations all under one roof to discuss the postulation of the former president of the Fraunhofer Society and long-standing chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation board of trustees, Prof. Dr. rer. nat., Dr.-Ing. E.h. Max Syrbe (1929-2011). His theory was that, “Scientific achievements are important not just for their own sake, but for the sake of the synergies and real-world applications they inspire.”
The vision expressed by Syrbe with this statement was one of unrestricted yet coordinated (i.e., managed) science which is matched as closely as possible to users in business. He posited that the reciprocal alignment and networking of research and development on the one hand, and practice on the other, is the key to successful knowledge and technology transfer. Syrbe’s notion rightly underscores the instrumental role played by knowledge management alongside well-coordinated research and business conditions in safeguarding the competitiveness and innovative power of businesses and entire regions.
Panelists in the Transfer Arena discussed Syrbe’s hypothesis in an open forum supported by modern media. Prof. Dr. habil. Achim Walter (Kiel University) expressed the opinion that good research arises from acknowledged – albeit as yet unsolved – problems in business. He also asserted that the purpose of collaborative structures in Baden- Württemberg should be to transfer technology capable of providing solutions to these problems and which can form the basis of new entrepreneurial opportunity. Prof. Dr. Hugo Hämmerle (Natural and Medical Sciences Institute (NMI), University of Tubingen; Innovation Alliance BW) believed the onus is on companies to request and take on more offers from research. Thomas Vetter (ARADEX AG) also highlighted that business managers should not be worried about working with the originators of science and technology, although it is precisely for SMEs that the aims and focus of universities and technology sources are problematic, since research is governed by cumbersome structures. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schneider (Aalen University of Applied Sciences) said that universities of applied sciences are challenged by the need to network more and gain a more independent profile, while, in coordination with business, expanding their offering and becoming more professional. According to Günther Lesnerkraus (Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Finance and Economy), the state has to expand its strengths in the field of knowledge and technology transfer at a high level and maintain its advantage over up-and-coming regions. To do this, research bodies and companies in the state will have to network more closely than in the past to translate the outstanding work of researchers more effectively into viable business models.
The ideas discussed at the core of the arena were also commented on from the outer circles by representatives of business associations, chambers of commerce and members of the Steinbeis Network. Members of the audience were also actively welcomed to make comments relating to the discussion. Overall, the arena provided key players in the field of knowledge and technology transfer in Baden- Württemberg with a modern platform for meeting others and exchanging ideas. The symposium was moderated by Prof. Stephan Ferdinand (Stuttgart Media University of Applied Sciences) and Christiane Delong (Institute of Moderation, Stuttgart).