The Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ) has every reason to celebrate. 20 years ago, the regional state parliament of Baden-Württemberg appointed the Minister of Economics' first Commissioner for Europe. At the same time, the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum was set up in Stuttgart under the responsibility of the new commissioner. The SEZ, which now employs more than 30 people and has a second office in Karlsruhe, helps companies with EU funding programs and provides support with cross-border technology transfer.
In 1990, the incumbent Minister of Economics for Baden-Wurttemberg, Hermann Schaufler, appointed Hans J. Tummers as his first Commissioner for Europe. His role: to boost competitiveness by making it easier for small and medium-sized companies to gain research and technology funding through the European Union. In 1995 Tummers was succeeded as Commissioner for Europe by Peter S. Nies who in 2002 handed the task on to Norbert Hoptner, who is still in the role today.
As the front-line operation of the Commissioner for Europe, the Steinbeis-Europa- Zentrum distributes the latest information on EU funding programs. As well as supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, it helps universities, research institutions and the public sector submit applications and implement EU projects. It also develops future strategies and sets up targeted crossborder partnerships.
The SEZ ensures that small and mediumsized enterprises also benefit from European funding. In 2009, the SEZ helped more than 9.8 million euros of European funding find its way into Baden-Wurttemberg. Since its first EU project in 1993, several hundred project partnerships have ensued with companies. Today it is involved in 24 EU projects, affecting 222 partner companies in 33 countries.
To mark their 20th anniversary, the SEZ and the Baden-Wurttemberg Ministry of Economics invited guests to a convention in Stuttgart on “Strategies for Innovation and Competitiveness in Europe”.
The aim of the convention was to provide everyone involved in innovation with new ideas, especially by linking up two aspects of innovation: “the transfer of knowledge from research into business practice”, and “the transfer of innovations throughout the regions of Europe”. “Europe must do more to support innovation!” demanded Ernst Pfister, the Minister of Economics, in his opening address. “I’m pursuing an ambitious goal with this convention: I want us, in Baden-Wurttemberg, to keep treading the path of success, and nothing less – a path into the future that will safeguard the prosperity of this region, and employment for its people.“