Project to establish large-scale research infrastructure spurs scientific networking in the region.
The monitoring committee of the Interreg V Oberrhein program has approved 947,637 euros in funding for the large-scale research infrastructure project “RMTMO RI – Stärkung der Forschungsinfrastruktur in der Metropolregion Oberrhein (Strengthening research infrastructure in the Upper Rhine Metropolitan region)”. The promoters of science have thereby reached a further milestone in the 20202 Strategy for the Trinational Metropolitan Region of the Upper Rhine. The goal of the three-year large-scale research infrastructure project is to develop a concept to establish innovative, cross-border research infrastructure to decisively strengthen the Upper Rhine academic and scientific region. The University of Freiburg is responsible for coordinating the project.
On Friday, May 19, 2017, district president Bärbel Schäfer presented documents of approval to the project leader Prof. Dr. Gunther Neuhaus, Vice Rector and Vice-President for Research at the University of Freiburg, and to other partners in the three-country project.
“This first step on the road to a large-scale research facility in the Upper Rhine is key for dynamic development in academia and the economy in the Trinational Metropolitan Region,” Schäfer said. “This is an opportunity we can only grasp together with our French and Swiss partners. Europe is making a very significant contribution to a successful future in our region with nearly one million euros in funding. Research institutions will not be alone in benefiting from this; the economy - and thereby, the people of the region - will profit.”
Project coordinator Neuhaus added: “In global competition we need not just excellent ideas and excellent staff – we also need the corresponding infrastructure. To carry out top-notch European research in the Upper Rhine region, it is essential to make use of synergies. The establishment of large-scale research infrastructure promotes the joint, cross-border use of existing infrastructure and thereby improves the conditions for research projects and cooperation in the entire Upper Rhine region.”
University of Freiburg Rector, Professor Hans-Jochen Schiewer, said “The project to establish large-scale research infrastructure in the region is a central tenet for the Trinational Metropolitan Region and for the European Campus - so as to push ahead with academic integration in the region and to enable us to offer competitive conditions for research.” He is also the President of Eucor – The European Campus and spokesman for the Science Pillar of the Upper Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region. “The Universities of the European Campus have worked hard from the beginning to move ahead with this flagship project and for it to be adopted into the Upper Rhine region’s overall strategy. In particular we are especially happy that the successful collaboration with the TriRhenaTech alliance and with the University of Koblenz-Landau is extended and further strengthened,” he said.
Apart from the University of Freiburg, a further 13 partners are involved - universities and research institutions in Germany, France, and Switzerland, including the member universities of Eucor – The European Campus, and the institutions in the TriRhenaTech alliance.
The following partners are contributing funding to this flagship project:
University of Freiburg (project promoter)
Université de Strasbourg
Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT)
Université de Haute-Alsace
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Offenburg University of Applied Sciences
Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences
The following institutions are providing their expertise as associated partners to the execution of the project:
University of Basel
University of Koblenz-Landau
SATT Conectus Alsace
Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Strasbourg (INSA)
University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm)
Catherine Florentz, Vice-President of Research and Doctoral Training at the Université de Strasbourg, who is that university’s representative for the project, underlines that: “The trinational border region of the Upper Rhine is characterized by an extraordinary concentration of competencies of a high international standard. The development of large-scale research infrastructure in this context is not only a structural gain for the region; at the same time it makes the area more attractive internationally.”
As part of the project, the 14 partners aim to take stock of the research infrastructure in the Upper Rhine, setting up a database encompassing all of the research institutions in the Trinational Metropolitan Region. Then they will develop an overall strategy for a successful model for cross-border research infrastructure. In doing so, the partners will take into consideration factors such as target groups, costs, and the legal framework. Upon completion of the project in 2020 they plan to present a road map to making large-scale research infrastructure into a unique feature of the cross-border research landscape in the Upper Rhine, showing how this can be realized practically.
Background information on Eucor – The European Campus
European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) Eucor – The European Campus arose against a backdrop of longstanding cooperation between the universities in the Upper Rhine region. In December 2015 the first five member universities – the University of Basel, the University of Freiburg, Université de Haute-Alsace, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and Université de Strasbourg – signed the articles establishing cross-border research and teaching as a legal entity. With the skills and potential of the 15,000 researchers and 11,000 doctoral candidates as well as 115,000 students, the aim is to build a clearly-profiled science and research area without walls and borders and with international attraction. The European Campus also brings together the universities’ cross-border projects which cannot be directly grouped under the EGTC – such as the Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research, the SERIOR project, and more recently, the RMTMO RI project.
Background information on the TriRhenaTech Alliance
In November 2014 the Universities of Karlsruhe, Offenburg, and Furtwangen, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, and Alsace Tech, the network of Alsace’s Grandes Ecoles, formed an alliance, the network TriRhenaTech Their common goal is to reinforce the transfer of knowledge, research, and technology, as well as the cross-border mobility of students. The intensification of scientific networking between the institutions enabled access to European and regional funding for six research consortia within two years. With the inclusion of the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences in February 2016 and the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Lörrach in March 2017, the network now comprises 48,000 students.
Background information on research in the Upper Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region
The Upper Rhine is an economic and social region with six million inhabitants and an annual economic potential of more than 200 billion euros. The Trinational Metropolitan Region was founded in 2010 to promote the development of the area into a highly-competitive European region. The topics of research, development, and innovation have played a central role for a very long time. The Science Pillar, one of the specialist areas, is dedicated to research in the region. The Trinational Metropolitan Region, Eucor – The European Campus, and TriRhenaTech together offer an excellent environment for integrating and pooling the science capacity of the Upper Rhine region.
Background information on Interreg
Interreg is a joint initiative by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and promotes cross-border cooperation in Europe. The current Interreg program in the Upper Rhine, where France, Germany, and Switzerland meet, is the fifth of its kind and runs from 2014 to 2020. The European Union is providing funding of almost 110 million euros in total. Within the framework of Eucor – The European Campus, the proposals for “European Campus – Cross-border Structures,” the “Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research,” and the SERIOR project are being sponsored by Interreg funding. The Alliance of the Upper Rhine’s Universities of Applied Sciences and the coordination office for the Trinational Metropolitan Region’s Science Pillar also receives Interreg funding.
Project coordinator at the University of Freiburg:
Professor Gunther Neuhaus
Phone: 0761 / 203 - 67592
District president Bärbel Schäfer and Gunther Neuhaus, Vice Rector and Vice-President for Research at the University of Freiburg. Photo: Patrick Seeger
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