In recent years, East Württemberg has developed into an economic zone brimming with future promise. Often referred to as a “place for talents and patents,” it enjoys all the benefits of strong and innovative medium- sized enterprises with a solid heritage in mechanical engineering, metal processing, textile processing and the paper industry. The area is home to a large number of traditional family-owned businesses, but also many international companies including Carl Zeiss (Oberkochen), Voith (Heidenheim) and the steering systems manufacturer ZFLS (Schwäbisch Gmünd). These firms have had a lasting influence on the region. A number of business clusters exist in the area, with interests in future technologies ranging from photonics/optical technology to the automotive sector, surface technology and machining/molding/metal casting.
There are four universities in East Württemberg, offering a variety of degree programs to nearly 10,000 students. For many years, Aalen University has been one of Baden- Württemberg’s strongest research-based universities of applied sciences. The region is also home to more than 20 Steinbeis Transfer Centers, providing an important backbone to local infrastructure alongside the highly proactive East Württemberg chamber of commerce (IHK) and the East Württemberg regional economic development corporation (WiRO). Together, they are a catalyst and sponsor of knowledge-sharing and productive collaboration between a variety of partners.
Current trends do not just influence our region. Societal, political, economic and technological issues are rapidly becoming more complex. Today’s knowledge-based society has to cope with more and more information within shorter and shorter timeframes, exacerbated by increasing pressure to assimilate this knowledge. As a result, knowledge- based solutions and concepts are becoming increasingly important to us. Similarly, this is fuelling demand for skilled workers with the right qualifications. Working in highly specialized, interdisciplinary fields, these people are under permanent pressure to gain further qualifications. Simultaneously, the demand within companies for academics and staff from a scientific background is intensifying.
The key to further economic growth lies in technology and innovations. The push to innovate is building rapidly as product cycles continuously shorten. The chasm is widening between front-line research and the translation of scientific findings into products. So available resources must be used as efficiently as possible. Knowledge and technology transfer must be targeted, professional and success-oriented. Steinbeis has demonstrated in the past that it has an outstanding contribution to make at the interface between universities and business. Little wonder, therefore, that more than 65% of Steinbeis Transfer Centers in Baden- Württemberg are based at universities of applied sciences – to shape knowledge sharing, also in collaboration with SMEs in the region. Business startups can also stem from Steinbeis Transfer Centers, and, in the future, this is exactly the area in which universities, business, politics and Steinbeis must work more closely together.
I hope you enjoy this latest edition of TRANSFER.
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schneider
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schneider is rector of Aalen University, board member of the Rectors’ Conference of Universities of Applied Science in Baden- Württemberg and Deputy Chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation Board of Trustees. He is the founder of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Materials Engineering in Aalen. Steinbeis’s interests in the East Württemberg/Aalen region.