Technology transfer – bringing science and companies together to work in partnership on translating application-based research into marketable products. The fact that this concept works was demonstrated impressively by the Steinbeis Transfer Day in Karlsruhe in June, an occasion on which the new Steinbeis House was opened on the campus of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. The building is considered a model project for the whole of the state, pooling the combined power of partners in knowledge and technology transfer under a single roof, and thus playing an essential role on the road from research to industrial application. The building has a floor area of roughly 5,500 sq m (59,000 sq ft) – plenty of room for university scientists, Steinbeis experts, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and Steinbeis have been working together successfully on knowledge and technology transfer for years. Further to the foundation of the jointly run company Steinbeis Transferzentren GmbH at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences in 2008, the construction of the Steinbeis House is an additional important milestone. Marking the opening of the house, Theresia Bauer, the Minister for Science, Research and the Arts in Baden-Württemberg, said: “For science to make a successful contribution and solve the problems we face, it has to be translated into applications. But the road from theory to practice is everything but simple. My wish would be that the Steinbeis House becomes a place where it’s possible to actually see what it’s like when research and application come together with an equal standing.” As well as welcoming Theresia Bauer, Steinbeis and the university also enjoyed the presence of Klaus Stapf, the mayor and representative of Karlsruhe, as well as a variety of guests from universities throughout the state and key figures from industry and politics.
The opening day revolved around knowledge transfer from a broad variety of angles. After the official opening, the many guests in attendance were free to explore and look behind the scenes. “Market success and competitiveness need daring and entrepreneurship, smart, capable people, and effective and efficient transfer. Steinbeis and Karlsruhe University have been advocating this together since the early days of the Steinbeis Foundation, which is why we’re all the more delighted that we can keep investing in this partnership together through the Steinbeis House,” stated Prof. Dr. Michael Auer, Board Chairman of the Steinbeis Network.
The five-story building contains rooms for scientists and SMEs to work in, as well as labs, a seminar room, catering facilities, and the entire Institute of Materials and Processes (IMP), which is one of two central research institutes at Karlsruhe University. The ground floor of the building includes production facilities with state-ofthe- art machinery covering all kinds of common manufacturing techniques. The visitors were given the opportunity to watch the machines in action in an impressive display put on by the IMP experts, who also offered tours and speeches to bring the technology to life. Seminars on different processing techniques were also held. During the day, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Meisel, rector of Karlsruhe University, highlighted how, “Karlsruhe University is now one of the strongest universities in Baden-Württemberg in applied research and technology transfer – which, according to state university statutes, are two of the central tasks of universities of applied sciences. We can already look back on years of successful partnership with Steinbeis, especially in the field of technology transfer. We’re delighted that this now goes beyond close collaboration on an organizational level and is now also in spatial terms.”
The doors were also opened to the laboratories of the Faculty of Management Science and other departments of the university that have now moved into two stories of the building. Other tenants who opened their doors were cellent AG and Harms & Wende GmbH & Co. KG. In the afternoon, two concepts were brought together: transfer and studying. Steinbeis invited students at the university and their relatives to interactive workshops on developing innovative business models. There was also an innovation and brainstorming workshop to toy with business setup ideas, exploring how to use “design thinking” methods in a creative and interdisciplinary way in the quest for innovation.
Working together can also be followed by celebrating together, so after a day packed with plenty of variety, Steinbeis invited students, staff at Karlsruhe University, and tenants of the building to a barbecue. Judging by the numbers and the time spent sitting together, it became quite clear than knowledge-sharing and transfer also works well when you’re celebrating!