Baden-Württemberg: Excellence in Research and Innovation

Baden-Württemberg is virtually synonymous with innovation. It is the homeland of pioneers such as Karl Drais, Gottlieb Daimler, Albert Einstein and Karl Steinbuch. This “land of inventors and thinkers” is the most innovative region in the EU according to the 2010 Innovation Index. No other German region registers more patents per head of population than here.

High quality education, basic research and applied science, effective links between these areas and efficient research transfer processes all combine to create a fertile environment in which innovation flourishes.

Research: strong performance in IT, the high-tech industries and media

Ranking: Innovation Index 2010 shows top 10 EU countries and regions. 2010 Innovation Index: top 10 EU countries and regions (picture: B-W Regional Statistical Office).

Baden-Württemberg’s high levels of research and development activity make it the leading federal state within Germany as well as one of the top European regions. R&D expenditure as a proportion of GDP was 4.8% in 2012, 2.1 percentage points above the national average for Germany (2.7%).

The region’s outstanding position is demonstrated by the strong performance of its universities in Germany’s nationwide “Initiative for Excellence” to identify top-level research facilities. Four of the nine forward-thinking concepts awarded funding as part of the Initiative are from Baden-Württemberg, specifically from the universities of Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, Freiburg and Konstanz, all of which earned the title “Elite University”. As a result of the strategic consolidation concept supported by the Excellence Initiative, Karlsruhe University and Karlsruhe Research Centre merged to form the largest scientific institution in Germany, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). “Excellence clusters” at seven of the region’s universities were also awarded funding, including the Simulation Technology cluster at the University of Stuttgart.

Ranking: patent applications (per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010) Patent applications per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010 (picture: German Patent and Trade Mark Office).

Private research institutions also work closely with state universities and industry. 12 of the 85 Max Planck Society institutes and 14 of the 60 Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany are located in Baden-Württemberg, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) in Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) in Karlsruhe.

The largest university-based research centre for media is located at the University of Hohenheim, incorporating the Department of Communication Science and Journalism, the Institute of Communication Science and the Research Centre for Media Economy and Communication Science (>> see Media section). Karlsruhe’s Center for Art and Media (ZKM) holds a unique position worldwide, directly integrating research with productions, public exhibitions and events.

Research transfer: from innovation to application

View into Media Room lab at University of Konstanz. Wall display and multi-touch table in the Media Room lab at Konstanz Uni (picture: Konstanz Uni).

In order to facilitate the efficient and effective transfer of research findings, Baden-Württemberg has a comprehensive network of transfer centres in place, complemented by Institutes of Applied Research (IAF) at almost all technical colleges and the Technology Licensing Office patent management agency, which advises the region’s universities. Businesses and institutions in the Steinbeis network serve as contact centres for small and medium-sized enterprises looking to collaborate with scientists in developing products and IT and communication expertise.

The building of relationships between science and business in the areas of IT (>> see Information Technologies section), knowledge management and media is also promoted at the Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing (FAW) at the University of Ulm, the Research Centre for Information Technology (FZI) at the University of Karlsruhe and the European Media Laboratory (EML) in Heidelberg. The Heidelberg Innovation Forum brings researchers and their ideas together with potential partners and investors.

MFG Baden-Württemberg is an important driving force for technology transfer in the IT and media industries. By regularly organising events, competitions and conventions, it provides a forum for collaborative working across organisations and promotes the emergence of productive networks.

Education: qualified new talent for the IT and creative industries

Picture from a lab related to the digital forensics course. Searching for clues on the digital forensics course (picture: Albstadt-Sigmaringen University).

Education provision in Baden-Württemberg is notable for the wide range of learning opportunities. Some 250 courses in computer science, media and design are offered at institutions across the region. Baden-Württemberg’s universities occupy top positions in the Centre for Higher Education rankings for 2011/2012. The leaders in computer science are Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Furtwangen University. Esslingen University is the number one technical college for electrical engineering and information technology. Stuttgart Media University (HdM) is one of the best institutions in the field of media and communications science, while the University of Konstanz is at the forefront in media science.

Internationally renowned centres of excellence for fostering new talent include the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg, with its Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction, and the Merz Academy with its course in Art, Design and Media (>> see Creative Industries section). The region is also home to the unique Pop Academy in Mannheim, which offers degree courses in music business and pop music design.

Among the region’s wide range of scholarships and graduate programmes, two are especially noteworthy: the Karl Steinbuch Scholarship, which was initiated by MFG Baden-Württemberg and supports innovative and interdisciplinary ideas with an IT or media element, and the Baden-Württemberg Foundation’s COACHING 4 FUTURE programme that brings together pupils, universities and businesses in the natural sciences and technical disciplines.

To encourage media literacy and awareness among children and young people, the Media Competency Forum Southwest Foundation has launched a media education sponsorship award. The “School Media Offensive” aims to establish a basis for effective IT and media education in all secondary schools. A large number of companies provide training places for commercial, creative or technical occupations in the IT and creative industries. There are also various vocational schools for design, technology and media, technical communication, graphic design and computer science.

Continuing education: lifelong learning in the IT and creative industries

Programme MFG Academy leant against attaché case. A top address for further education in IT and media: MFG Academy (picture: textbar).

The IT and creative industries offer a wide range of further education opportunities. Information on further education and training provision in the local area is provided by the regional further training networks. Interested individuals can use the online course database to access information about the available courses.

The MFG Academy plays a prominent role in providing further education in the IT and media sector. It offers a wide range of classroom-based seminars, as well as online webinars that can be easily incorporated into the working day. This training is highly cost-effective and very attractive to start-up entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses.

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Ranking: Innovation Index 2010 shows top 10 EU countries and regions.

2010 Innovation Index: top 10 EU countries and regions (picture: B-W Regional Statistical Office).

Ranking: patent applications (per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010)

Patent applications per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010 (picture: German Patent and Trade Mark Office).

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Robert Gehring
Robert Gehring

Head of Project Team
Media Literacy/Online
Phone +49 711 90715-322