The 3rd Bergisch Innovation und Education Convention in Solingen:
A Dialogue Between Industry and Science

Tim Kurzbach, the Lord Mayor of Solingen, had the pleasure of welcoming more than 120 participants to the 3rd Bergisch Innovation and Education Convention at the Business Incubator and Technology Centre in Solingen. Among the guests was the North Rhine-Westphalia Minister for Science Svenja Schulze. Kurzbach emphasised the importance of innovation for the development of the region. “These days, specific factors such as good educational amenities, an attractive environment and, above all, a family-friend city all influence corporate and personal decisions relating to location.”

During the convention, Dr. Juliane Köberlein-Neu, Professor of Health Economics and Management at the University of Wuppertal was awarded the Bergisch Prize for Research & Knowledge Transfer, which is bestowed by the Wuppertal University Friends and Alumni Association (GFBU). Köberlein-Neu received the award for innovations in medication management in the context of pharmacological therapies. Dr. Hanno Gottschalk, Professor of stochastics at the University of Wuppertal received a special prize for his successful and sustainable Service Learning Project in the project seminar for Applied Statistics.

“For clever ideas to emerge and be implemented a collaboration between science, industry and society” is necessary, as Minister Schulze explained, adding that: “there have already been many successful collaborations between businesses, universities and research institutes, which stand as examples of best practice, particularly in the Bergisch Land Region”.

The state government has been supporting such collaboration through numerous programmes and competitions. “For example”, said Schulze, “we will be providing around 70 million euro between now and 2020 to bring universities and businesses together and to provide support for start ups and innovations”.

Thomas Meyer, President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, points to the successes and importance of collaborative projects involving industry and the research community, particularly in Solingen. Both the Endowed Chair for Machine Engineering and the recently founded Institute for Product Innovation open up new possibilities for collaboration with commercial enterprises in the Bergisch Land Region. But, as Meyer points out, these contacts with the University of Wuppertal give regional businesses the opportunity to establish relationships with undergraduates early on in their careers and, potentially, to employ them as skilled personnel in this own companies one day. Going forward, he explains, it will be vital to establish even stronger links between entrepreneurs and professors at the university.

Prof. Dr. Lambert T. Koch, President of the University of Wuppertal, praised the highly constructive collaboration with regional partners. “Institutional trust and mutual esteem between the participants from industry and the sciences”, Koch explains, “provide an excellent starting point for joint efforts aimed at making our Bergisch Land Region even more attractive as a science and technology centre”.

After the formal presentations, participants met with experts in three parallel workshops to discuss future technological developments in production, metal working and automotive engineering that will be important for the tri-city area, and the ramifications of these for the education system and qualification requirements for tomorrow’s skilled personnel.

The convention was organised by the University of Wuppertal, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for the Bergisch Land Region, the Bergisch Infrastructure and Business Development Corporation (Struktur- und Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft mbH), and the Wuppertal and Solingen Technology Centres.

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