The region of Oberschwaben, or Upper Swabia, lies in the southernmost corner of Germany. It is a patchwork of small and medium-sized communities, embellished with a rich tapestry of vacation areas along Lake Constance. Despite its lack of big city flair, it is outstanding compared to other German regions in terms of economic, social and environmental strength. This is demonstrated most impressively by the rankings and online surveys carried out by the regional association for Bodensee-Oberschwaben (Lake Constance & Upper Swabia). So it is not surprising that the region has a rich history of local inventions. International household names like Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and Claude Dornier have left a lasting impression on the region. The historic workers’ housing estate in Friedrichshafen is a shining example of social care in its time.
These former pioneers of technology left their mark on the economy in the area, which is now home to international companies such as ZF Friedrichshafen, Tognum and the former aeronautics firm Dornier. These and many other medium-sized enterprises like Andritz Hydro, Borg Warner Cooling Systems, and ifm electronic, plus numerous other firms, are important employers and crucial to the high standard of living enjoyed by people in the region. They provide a solid foundation for innovation, economic development and Upper Swabia’s competiveness in increasingly global markets. The innovative power of medium-sized enterprises is showcased by the recent bestowal of the 2011/12 Innovation Prize by the Ravensburg district WIR (an Upper-Swabian association for the promotion of industry and innovation): The prize went to three companies in the mechanical engineering sector.
Despite these successes, not even the region of Bodensee-Oberschwaben remains immune to the increasingly limited access to skilled workers. Local companies face a major challenge, which can only really be overcome through collaboration between educational establishments and industry. There are, however, excellent educational enterprises in the region in the form of its universities of applied sciences in Ravensburg-Weingarten and Albstadt-Sigmaringen, as well as the Ravensburg University of Cooperative Education (DHBW) in Friedrichshafen. These establishments focus firmly on the requirements of local industry. For example, students at Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences are involved in a variety of business projects on behalf of companies in the region. The excellent relationship between enterprises and the universities is also reflected in the remarkable number of endowed professorships. Thanks to publicly funded "centers for applied university research," research is carried out in areas central to future markets, such as autonomous mobile service robotics and energy-saving LED lighting. This is in cooperation with universities and higher education establishments in other regions.
The eight Steinbeis Centers at the Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences are another indication of the strong ties between universities and industry. These centers facilitate the transferal of knowledge from research into business, and promote practice-oriented teaching at university establishments. Thanks to the intense level of knowledge and technology transfer this leads to, a wide variety of companies are able to benefit from the expertise of the Steinbeis Network.
I hope you enjoy this latest edition of TRANSFER.
Prof. Dr. Reinhold Holbein
Prof. Dr. Reinhold Holbein lectures and researches at Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences and is director of the Corrosion and Corrosion Protection Steinbeis Transfer Center in Friedrichshafen. All Steinbeis centers in the Oberschwaben region