Helping the Research Campuses in Their Strategic Development
Working on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Project Management Jülich organizes one to one-and-a-half-day strategy workshops once or twice a year to encourage regular exchanges of experiences and information between the research campuses.
The topics at the workshops are selected with a view to promoting the strategic development of the research campuses along the lines intended by the funding initiative. The focus is on involving all the research campuses in drafting strategy processes, criteria for success and best practice examples.
The BMBF’s project management organization also holds regular specialist conferences on funding initiatives.
The research campuses at the World Café in Mannheim.Source: PtJ
The aim of the first workshop at the M²OLIE research campus in Mannheim was to provide ideas on evaluation processes and on measuring success on the research campus. As well as offering talks by experts, the workshop focused in particular on dealing with the topic within the framework of a World Café.
The ideas collected can be assigned to two different parameters, so-called /soft factors/ (cultural variables) and /hard factors/ (organizational variables). It emerged that the participants attach particular value to cultural variables. They considered a common identity and trademark to be the most important factor. Clear regulations concerning intellectual property, a simple legal framework as well as presence under a single roof were considered important organizational variables which contribute to a successful research campus culture.
In addition to discussing the criteria for success, the representatives of the research campuses also exchanged ideas on how success can be measured and made visible. The participants drafted qualitative as well as quantitative approaches to measuring success. They consider beacon projects and demonstrators which can reach a wide public via the media, special events and political communication channels to be particularly important for the visibility of their success.
The research campuses at the Workshop in Aachen. Source: PtJ
The aim of the second workshop in Aachen at the research campuses "Digital Photonic Production" (DPP) and "Flexible Electrical Networks" (FEN) was to stimulate a strategy processes in all research campuses. The results of the first workshop on evaluation processes and on measuring success on the research campus were used as a starting point to discuss concrete examples from the research campuses. These examples were recorded in form of a SWOT analysis.
The participants named inter- and transdisciplinarity as clear strengths of the Research Campus funding initiative. Additionally, visibility and reputation of the research campuses are strengths, which are closely linked to the opportunity in achieving an even higher reputation. The research campuses also see an opportunity in cross-research campus activities and internationalization, as well as in a participation process which includes different parts of society.
Initial ideas for possible measures to further promote the strategy process within the research campuses address in particular cross-research campus collaboration, such as facilitating an exchange of employees in the management or carrying out joint research projects. Furthermore, the research campuses discussed possibilities to integrate different parts of society into the research work.
The research campuses at the Workshop in Wolfsburg. Source: PtJ
The aim of the third workshop at the Open Hybrid LabFactory Research Campus (OHLF) in Wolfsburg was to support the exchange between the research campuses and to give fresh impetus to the continuation of their respective exploitation strategies. The campuses’ experiences with various approaches to exploitation were used as the basis for discussing and developing specific practices.
Despite the different structures of the research campuses, the participants at the workshop were able to identify a number of commonalities: in particular, it was noted that the clear rules within the research campuses provide the key to an open exchange between the partners. It is therefore important that the research campuses take concrete measures to keep everyone working on the campus informed and up-to-date in order to secure this sheltered and open atmosphere in the long term. The recruitment of new partners should be precisely regulated in order to avoid jeopardizing the trust between the partners. This trust, together with the sheltered atmosphere, is a significant factor for ensuring an open culture of innovation on the research campuses.
Experience shows that young companies and SMEs as well as large companies and research institutions benefit from the proximity of staff on the research campuses. The workshop participants noted that large companies appreciated the flexible interaction with other partners. Moreover, research institutions were able to learn about the needs of industry more quickly and to include these needs in their research.
Spin-offs are also an important element for the successful exploitation of intellectual property rights. The workshop participants saw a particular challenge in identifying “entrepreneurial types” and providing them with targeted and competent advice on launching a spin-off. When providing such advice, the research campuses profited in particular from experienced and established entrepreneurs who had themselves ventured into self-employment.
Research Campuses at the 4th workshop in Berlin. Source: Project Management Jülich
The fourth workshop at the MODAL Research Campus in Berlin supported the exchange of experience among the research campuses on various aspects of initial and advanced training. The topic of training is addressed by all the research campuses regardless of their disciplinary focus. Both academic and vocational education formats as well as acceptance are important issues, particularly in efforts to explore new technological fields and develop new products and services. After all, new technologies can only be used effectively when staff is available for their operation and maintenance and when the technologies are accepted by society.
The research campuses have an influence on academic teaching through the participating universities. New study programmes and regular seminars are established which deal with topics from the research campuses. Furthermore, company staff are involved as teachers in lecture series. The participating companies also welcome the advanced training for their staff as an opportunity to enhance their corporate efficiency and productivity and deliver innovations. Sometimes, the scientific partners in a research campus enable enrolment for the companies involved so that their staff can acquire academic degrees including doctoral degrees. This approach helps overcome barriers between fundamental project work and commercial application so that joint products can be generated more efficiently.
Transparency and participation are also important in terms of support and training of future professionals and the establishment of new technologies. Cooperation within the trans- and interdisciplinary research campuses essentially depends on a common understanding regardless of the individual partners' cultures and (corporate) languages. Specific handbooks or formats such as a "Developers' Breakfast" may be useful in this context. In addition, the research campuses address the task of educating the population and translating the research problems and findings for the interested public, especially for children and young people. This includes consideration of acceptance issues.