The Tech Campus: A Catalyst for Innovation and Regional Development
A discussion on the role of universities in entrepreneurial activity and economic development.
Co-Sponsor: ConRuhr North America
On April 17, the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI) and ConRuhr hosted a discussion on these two best practice models. The speakers included Albrecht Ehlers, Chancellor of the TU Dortmund University, Andre van Hall, Director of the BioMedizinZentrumDortmund at the Technology Park Dortmund, and Craig Gotsman, founding Director of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (TCII) at Cornell NYC Tech.
Dortmund, which is located in the heart of Germany’s largest metropolitan area, the Ruhr area, is a hub of research and science with one university, two universities of applied sciences, and 17 research institutes. To encourage an entrepreneurial spirit among TU Dortmund’s 30,000 students and its faculty, and thus foster regional economic growth, the Technology Park Dortmund was founded in the university’s direct proximity. It provides students and faculty with the essentials for founding a company and, hence, is “a prime example of successful cooperation between science and industry,” making the Technology Park Dortmund a powerhouse of German innovation. One reason for the long-lasting success, said Ehlers, is the matching of research fields such as IT, biomedicine, and nanotechnology, which allows TU Dortmund students to find the respective specialized counterpart at the tech park’s incubators.
Incubators, such as the BioMedizinZentrum, provide startups with infrastructure, consulting, funding, and equipment. Especially advantageous, explained van Hall, are the synergistic effects between the different incubators. So far, the tech park has supported over 500 companies with an insolvency rate of less than 5%. Dortmund also grew as an economic region as companies, initially supported in the tech park’s incubators, settled down in its direct proximity. Today, with 189 companies spread over 100,000sqm, the Tech Park Dortmund is the largest tech center in Germany and one of the five largest in Europe. It counts approximately 8,500 jobs and a turnover of €438M.
“A strong academic engine is needed to fuel growth, diversify New York’s economy and create a high-tech ecosystem,” said Gotsman. Based on the vision “from New York City to New Tech City,” the young joint venture between Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and New York’s Cornell University, the information-based Cornell NYC Tech campus, will feature all necessary platforms to support entrepreneurship and innovation. By offering room for the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, incubators, start-up accelerators, and industrial co-locations, NYC’s new tech campus’ aim is to closely interact with the high-tech industry. Cornell NYC Tech welcomed its first students in January 2013. Currently housed in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, in space donated by Google, Cornell NYC Tech’s temporary campus will move to its permanent location on Roosevelt Island in 2017.
The discussion was moderated by Dr. Joann Halpern, the Director of the German Center for Research and Innovation.