Boris Rhein: Rhine-Main – Knowledge region number one in the heart of europe

The Rhine-Main region is Europe’s number one transport junction and hub, home to the financial centre and a cultural region of internation­­al repute. The en­­chanting landscape along the Rhine and Main rivers, with the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Abbey of Lorsch, Messel Pit Fossil Site and the Upper German-Raetian Limes, as well as count­­less castles, museums, theatres and historic old towns, is uniquely attrac­­tive to visitors.

In addition, the region between Frank­­furt, Darmstadt and Wiesbaden stands out with a large number of first-class teaching and research institutions, many of which are unique in Germany. The re­­­­gion re­­flects the entire spectrum of Hessen’s higher education landscape, from universities, universities of ap­­plied sciences and art academies to private­­ly-run uni­­versities, in close co­­op­­eration with non-university research institutions such as the Fraunhofer, Max-Planck, Leib­­niz and Helmholtz institutes. These insti­­tu­­tions not only enable young people to obtain an academ­­ic education, but also provide qualified employees for research institutions and companies.

ngenuity and innovation are trade­­marks of our state. They stand for the special efficiency of our society and its citizens. However, the leading position our state enjoys can only be maintained if a sufficient number of qualified young professionals keep the inno­­vative en­­gines in universities, research institutions and companies running. The Rhine-Main re­­search and science location contributes significantly to this driv­­­­ing force. The suc­­­cess enjoyed by universities, research institutions and com­­­­panies in Hessen pro­­vides the foun­­dation for innovation and prosperity. That is why continued in­­vest­­ment in science and re­­search is essential for the future viabil­­ity of our state.


By focussing on science, research and teaching from 1999, the Hessian state government has planted the seeds of success, and the fruits of its labour are visible today, particularly in the Rhine-Main region. Leading the way are the massive investments in nationally and internationally competitive university loca­­tions such as Frankfurt, Offenbach, Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Rüsselsheim and Geisenheim. The university construc­­tion programme HEUREKA, with the special investment programmes from the federal and state governments, as well as funding provided by the Higher Educa­­tion Pact 2020, have resulted in investments in universities that are four times higher than in 1999.

This made it possible to establish the ne­­c­­essary framework conditions early on for over 100,000 students currently studying in the region – even when the increasing number of students is taken into account. The Johann Wolfgang Goethe Uni­­ver­sity Frankfurt am Main, one of the largest universities in Ger­­many with over 45,000 students, has benefited especially from these measures. The university is being rebuilt prac­­tically from the ground up as part of the HEUREKA programme. The Westend Campus, as a centre for humanities and social sciences studies; the Riedberg Campus, as a cross-discipline natural sciences institution; and the Niederrad Campus, as a location for university med­­ical studies, are examples of the efforts being made by the state government to use investments totalling several billion euros to create a basis for excellent teaching and top research.

This includes detailed investment planning for all eight state-run universities in the Rhine-Main region, but also setting a new course from a structural point of view, such as with the foundation of Geisen­­heim University in the Rheingau in 2013 as a “new type of university”, as well as the extensive autonomy granted to univer­­sities in Hessen. Pioneers in this area include the Technische Uni­ver­sität Darm­­stadt and the status of the Goethe Uni­­ver­­sity in Frankfurt as a foun­­dation university, which acts as an ex­­ample for others throughout Germany.

Along with Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts and the Offenbach University of Art and Design – two forges of creativity – the character of the science location is further shaped by the uni­­ver­­sities of applied sciences in Wies­­baden, Darmstadt and Frankfurt, with their strong application drive and close relationship between business and science. They en­­sure that innovative ideas move quickly from the laboratory to the workbench.

Both modern infrastructure and top-level research are the trademarks of the science location along the Rhine and Main rivers. This success is due not only to the successes enjoyed by the Goethe University and Technische Universität Darmstadt in national competitions such as the Excellence Initiative. Another ex­­ample is the various projects sponsored by the federal government that have been awarded to Frankfurt, such as the Centre for Islamic Studies and the Ger­­man Centres for Health Research. In addi­­tion, all universities in the region enjoyed above-average success in the Germany-wide Quality Pact for Teaching.

The success of institutions in Hessen’s LOEWE research promotion programme is certainly unparalleled. Universities and research institutions from the Rhine-Main region were particularly successful in this excellence competition, for which 500 million euros in funding is available until the end of 2014 alone. Seven centres, 13 focus areas and well over 40 inter-disciplinary projects to­­gether with small and medium-sized com­­panies impressively document the quality of work generated by the academics.

Die Initiative „Hessen schafft Wissen“ hat sich  zum Ziel gesetzt, die Wissenschaftslandschaft Hessen  noch bekannter zu machen.

The “Hessen creates knowledge” initiative aims to make Hessen even better known as a science landscape.

This is also possible because the Rhine-Main region has always been especially attractive for research-intense companies, as well as non-university research institutions. This also includes dozens of renowned research and scientific insti­­tutions, including the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research. With billions of euros in investment, the GSI is developing one of the world’s largest fa­­cilities for fundamental physical re­­search: the FAIR particle accelerator. FAIR is one of Europe’s most important infra­­struc­­ture projects in fundamental re­­­search. It will provide research opportu­­nities found nowhere else in the world and attract scientists from all around the globe to southern Hessen – from talented young professionals to renowned professors.

All this makes the Rhine-Main region the true home of numerous future-oriented technologies, an attractive location for the education of the next generation of academics and a training ground for the most brilliant minds in science and re­­search. Hessen creates knowledge: this is especially true in the Rhine-Main region.

IMG_9746_1_klein-KopieThe fully qualified lawyer was a member of the Hessian State Par­liament from 1999 to 2006. From 2006 to 2009, he was a municipal councillor in Frankfurt/Main. From 2009 to 2010, he was Se­­c­retary of State in the Hessian Minis­try of the In­­terior and until 2014, Minister of the Interior and Sports before being appointed Minister for Science and Arts of the state of Hesse.