Research and Innovation Cooperation Across Borders

Steinbeis supports the Science Offensive of the Trinational Metropolitan Region of the Upper Rhine

Providing funding for seven cross-border flagship projects in the Upper Rhine region from 2011 to 2015, the Science Offensive has made an important contribution to strengthening the competitiveness of the Trinational Metropolitan Region of the Upper Rhine. The iniative was launched by the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate in collaboration with the French region of Alsace. The aim was to foster cross-border cooperation in the areas of research and innovation. Unique in Europe, this initiative made it possible for the first time to provide outstanding cross-border research projects with co-funding, not just from the three regions but also through the European INTERREG IV Upper Rhine program. Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum served as an advisory body for the initiative.

Thirty-six applications were submitted in the fall of 2011. Seven research projects in the fields of medicine, renewable energy and the humanities received funding under the Science Offensive totaling some Euro 10 million. The projects were noteworthy for their focus on innovation and the high level of scientific added value.

Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ) supported the campaign in a variety of ways. For example, events were organized to communicate the goals of the program to the scientific community and initiate new project ideas. There were two information days in Karlsruhe and Strasbourg to present the funding and eligibility criteria for proposals to the general public with the aim of reaching out to potential applicants. One-on-one consultations were also offered at the information days. At a ceremony held in Landau in July 2012, high-ranking political representatives of the three partner regions presented the grants to the project leaders of the seven selected projects.

SEZ provided applicants with active support developing their concepts and submitting eligible project proposals. This involved consulting project leaders during concept development, identifying partners, assisting with applications and drawing up funding requirements for the project, in coordination with the regional co-financing bodies and the Joint Technical Secretariat of the INTERREG IV Upper Rhine program. SEZ also helped with project coordination and administration of the funded research and innovation projects.

The consortia of funded flagship projects were also assisted in the longterm application of the research results produced by the projects. Exploitation workshops were organized to allow the consortia to identify project results, evaluate how advanced they were, set exploitation goals and define additional areas of implementation. Furthermore, project leaders were offered assistance creating and disseminating technology profiles.

The Science Offensive was also the focus of numerous lectures inside and outside the Upper Rhine region. There were presentations during an OECD international innovation workshop held in Paris in September 2013, at the European Week of Regions and Cities (OPEN DAYS) in Brussels in October 2013, and at euregia, the leading trade fair for municipal and regional development in Europe, held in Leipzig in October 2014. The large number of publications and press reports on the Science Offensive underscores the tremendous response to the program. In particular, this was made evident by the mention of the campaign in “Regions and Innovation: Collaborating across Borders”, an OECD study published in 2013 [1].

An online survey was conducted between November 2013 and January 2014 to evaluate the overall impact of the Science Offensive, the call for proposals and the project application process. The general feedback of the survey was positive. Results are available on the website of the Trinational Metropolitan Region of the Upper Rhine (in German and French). At the close of the initiative, SEZ worked with regional partners to produce a brochure in German and French documenting the funded projects.



[1] OECD (2013), Regions and Innovation: Collaborating across Borders, OECD Reviews of Regional Innovation, OECD Publishing


Prof. Dr. Norbert Höptner, Robert Gohla, Dr. Sabine Müller
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum Karlsruhe,

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