The Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion (TRK) lies at the intersection of two of the most important European transport corridors, the Paris – Budapest/Bratislava axis and the Rotterdam – Genoa axis. Technologically, economically and culturally it belongs to the European top class. In the midst of the superb natural landscape between the Black Forest, the Rhine and Alsace in France, Germany’s sunniest region offers an ideal working and residential environment with ideal transport connections, a well-developed infrastructure, attractive cultural pursuits and great shopping. Many internationally well-known companies have their head offices here and benefit from the internationally important educational and research scene. The Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion occupies one of the leading positions in the competition with the most important business centres in Germany, the rest of Europe and the USA.
Networking and cooperation as guarantees of success. The TRK Action Group comprises ten towns, four administrative districts and one regional association. Its task is to optimize cooperation between business, science, culture and the authorities and promote regional political interests. Back in 1987, the TRK was formed by the main urban centres and both administrative districts in Baden in order to face the challenges of the future together. This successful model was joined by more members in the years that followed and the TRK’s last expansion was onto the western bank of the Rhine to the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Today the TRK has a total of over 1.2 million inhabitants on a surface area of 3,240 square kilometres. Its economic performance has been over the average for Germany for years. Of every 1,000 economically active people, 172 work in technology-intensive sectors – a level scarcely found in any other region in Europe. Investors have access to 350 hectares of industrial and commercial land that can be built on immediately. Our cities and towns offer well-developed commercial locations. The offer ranges from land-conversion areas such as the Cité in Baden-Baden or the Baden-Airpark in Rheinmünster through distinct industrial areas such as Wörth am Rhein to the Technology Park Karlsruhe or the Technologie- und Ökologiedorf Bruchsal (Technology and Ecology Village in Bruchsal).
integration. Due to its central location in the Southern Rhine region, the TRK functions as a hinge between Germany, France and Switzerland and between two linguistic regions, opening up major potential for development in a Europe that is growing together.
The tri-national Southern Rhine region is well on the way to becoming the Tri-National Southern Rhine Metropolitan Region. The Southern Rhine region contains over 600 business-linked research centres, and over 60 universities, universities of applied sciences and higher universities of applied sciences offer courses for more than 130,000 students.
Special strength: technology transfer to the business community.
Ideas from Karlsruhe and the region change the world – this happened in the past and has stayed that way to the present. In the series of great names we find the Karlsruhe native Carl Benz, the inventor of the motor car, and Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn, the inventor of the running wheels, who hailed the introduction of the age of mobility. Heinrich Hertz laid the foundation stone of our modern information age with the invention of electro-magnetic waves at the Universität Karlsruhe (TH) at the end of the 19th century. And the Karlsruhe scientist Karl Steinbuch started the concept of “computer science”. Fifteen years later, Germany’s first faculty of computer science was formed at the Universität Karlsruhe and today it is still the largest and best-known in the German-speaking regions of Europe. With the conversion to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Universität Karlsruhe and the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Research Centre) have removed the traditional barriers between university and extra-mural research centres. The partners among the world’s major research centres, which have proven themselves over the decades, will position themselves in this joint organization.
Not only the numerous universities, colleges and research centres are particularly well-linked, technology transfer to the commercial community is one of the region’s particular strengths. Eleven transfer facilities of the Steinbeis Foundation have been established at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe College of Technology and Business) alone. The nanoValley.eu initiative has its origins in the close cooperation between the TRK and the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. Operationally it is equipped and supported by partners in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hessen. Simultaneously the partners regard themselves as protagonists of a European science and technology region competing internationally for knowledge and personalities for research and the business community. This is the reason they are active across political and institutional borders in their attempt to achieve a joint nanoValley.eu.
The IT region with the largest European software cluster. Spin-outs are pushed not only by the KIT and the universities. In the old tradition of helping young companies gain a foothold in the market, the Karlsruhe KEIMforum alone has helped more than 180 companies get started. The region is characterized by a positive start-up climate at universities and research centres, not least because it has won the EU’s “Award of Excellence for Innovative Regions” three times.
The CyberForum has become one of the biggest and most successful high-tech entrepreneur networks, in which 750 members of the so-called “times” sectors (telecommunications, information technology, media, entertainment and security technology) now work together. Thanks to the great commitment of the CyberForum, the Karlsruhe IT region is one of the winners in the German government’s Clusters of Excellence Competition. Together with Darmstadt, Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken and Walldorf, Karlsruhe forms the cluster “Softwareinnovationen für das digitale Unternehmen” (“Software Innovations for the Digital Company”), the biggest software cluster in Europe. This was a decision that will speed up the link between the business community and research centres in the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion even more quickly; it will also guarantee innovative new products for the companies of the future and more skilled jobs in our region.
The author was elected deputy mayor of the city of Karlsruhe in 1991 and Lord Mayor in 1998. He was re-elected in 2006. He was previously a bank officer and graduate accountant in the Baden-Württemberg state public service, the state legislature’s parliamentary service and at the Baden-Württemberg State Credit Bank.