What is a knowledge ecosystem

RUB Rector Weiler wants to turn Bochum into a "knowledge eco-system"

After the end of Opel, the formula of “knowledge-based urban development” can be heard again and again. The Ruhr University (RUB), with its more than 43,000 students and lecturers, is of course at the center of such considerations. Can the academics forge satisfy the hopes that lie on it? WAZ employees Tom Thelen the rector, who left in October, Prof. Dr. Elmar Weiler asked about the specific plans, which revolve primarily around the “World Factory” project.

After Opel, what can RUB do for Bochum?

Prof. Dr. Elmar Weiler: We feel addressed. The RUB operates worldwide, but is also based in the Ruhr area. Also specifically addressed by the end of Opel, of course. After all, the children of Opel workers study here. These are close contacts. Our job is to continue to produce talent that will move the region forward

Isn't that happening yet?

Hamlet: But. There are spin-offs, also regularly and successfully, keyword for example RubiTec. Still, it's not a stream, just a stream. But we have a treasure that we need to dig up better. The city has to become something like a knowledge-eco-system, it needs niches and, above all, diversity. We spoke directly to the city about this and developed guiding principles.

What exactly will that mean?

Hamlet: Creativity and business have to come together. Students should already work on projects during their studies, working out practical solutions, in small teams with people from the company. Products were always developed in the Ruhr area, and that has to go on. This is what the “World Factory” stands for, that should be the structure of this cooperation, which brings further education to the students, the companies the competence, the talents. And in the end, the market-ready product can, should, and will be ready for the market. This can then be a brochure, software or a bottle opener.

What is the schedule and who is there?

Hamlet: I have had a good 50 conversations with companies of all sizes. Specifically, there should be a real company foundation around mid-2015, a project GmbH with a wide variety of partners. The first projects from the universities of Essen / Duisburg and Dortmund are also included. The Opel 1 area would come into question as the location. A kind of knowledge campus, such as the one in Eindhoven, is envisaged, not an industrial park. An ecosystem for start-ups.

In addition to the campus renovation, the Excellence Initiative is also making progress

What is the size of the “World Factory”?

Prof. Dr. Elmar Weiler: We introduce ourselves to around 1000 employees.

Who pays for it

Hamlet: We are currently in negotiations with an investor, the emerging network must of course help with this.

What's next at the Ruhr-Universität?

Hamlet: The campus renovation will continue, the financing of the next steps has already been promised. Three buildings - GD, IA and IB - will be built, and in two to three years it will be the turn of the N-series. The next round of the Excellence Initiative is also an issue. The Ruhr area in particular is brilliantly positioned for its motto, regional research associations. For example with large and successful universities of applied sciences. Hardly anyone in Germany can do something like this. Of course, that requires a lot of discussions.

You are leaving RUB in autumn, in the midst of all these hopeful developments.

Hamlet: Yes, there is a bit of sadness. So many large projects, you sometimes wish you were ten years younger.

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