“We don’t conduct research ourselves, but we help facilitate world-class research by providing scientists and companies who do this kind of work with the right tools,” says Frank Graage, head of the Steinbeis Research Center (SFC) Technology Management Northeast. With the support of the Steinbeis main office, Graage founded the SFC in 2001 in the northern German city of Rostock.
Since then, he and his team have done more than co-commission and co-supervise countless Transfer Network projects – they’ve played a key role in establishing 30 Steinbeis Enterprises in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Over the past eight years, the SFC team has broadened its services to meet growing customer needs. Now the third pillar of the SFC’s portfolio – professional development – runs alongside consultation and first-hand support.
Why the third pillar? Scientists and engineers from all walks of research kept asking the same questions: How do I write a proper application for the EU? How do I manage my research project? Present my project? Market my results? Frank Graage saw this as an opportunity to organize a series of seminars with his associates in the Steinbeis Transfer Network. “Young scientists in particular are extremely interested in learning new skills,” reports Graage. “This earns them greater respect in workgroups, and, of course, they reap immediate benefits, one of them being an application approved by the European RTD framework program.” The series addresses the specific needs of scientists as well as companies who conduct research, especially those looking for real-world professional development. The seminars are designed to allow instructors to integrate their own experiences into the lesson while leaving plenty of time for practical exercises that help participants work on their own scientific subjects. In a project management course, for example, participants will draft a strategy for their current or upcoming projects; most participants of an EU application seminar will leave the course with an initial outline of their very own application.
Zuzana Hugonin, a Slovakian Ph.D. candidate working in the Inorganic Chemistry department at the University of Stockholm, reflects on the workshops she attended on “management in research”: “I didn’t realize how many mistakes I could have avoided in my projects. But now I know what to improve. I’m definitely going to use this new information in my scientific work. It’s clear to me now that using my head when preparing and organizing my tasks will give me more time to do my work and help keep me flexible.
”The Steinbeis team’s customers hail from northern Germany and neighbors from across the Baltic Sea. Workshops are corun with research institutes in Vilnius (Lithuania) and Turku (Finland); meetings and consultations are set in Gdansk and Cracow (Poland), Greifswald (Germany), and Copenhagen (Denmark). The workshop on how to write a successful application for EU funding is now a regular feature of the annual world-class ScanBalt Forum, hosted in one of the Baltic Sea’s “bioregions” and attended by internationally renowned professionals. The Steinbeis team also sees something of the south and west, holding workshops in Würzburg, Göttingen and Berlin.
Frank Graage particularly enjoys hosting a week-long “Research Management Boot Camp” on the Baltic Sea. “It strikes the perfect balance,” he boasts. “Participants can leave their research hum-drum at the door and learn a broad set of new skills. And the area around Rostock is the perfect ‘workshop environment’. Taking a walk on the beach during lunch or an evening paddle out on the water – that’s what makes learning fun!”