Innovation and its philosophical roots – IASP spring meeting in Heidelberg

by Ebba Lund, COO at IASP - International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation

Not every city can pride itself on having a Philosophers’ Walk. The one in Heidelberg has such stunning views of the city and the river Neckar, that city planners can’t help but being inspired and feeling an urge to contribute something new to the city’s urban spaces. That could be one of the reasons behind the ongoing transformational process happening in Heidelberg, in synergy with local innovation professionals, knowledge workers and the wider community.

The Philosophers’ Walk (Philosophenweg) got its name at the beginning of the 19th century when university professors and poets like Hölderlin and Eichendorff strolled the vineyards on the river banks. A perfect place for intellectual debate and incubating new ideas – something still very present in the energetic local startup scene, as well as in Heidelberg's mature companies and key players in the field of life sciences and biotechnology.

Members of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) had the privilege of exploring Heidelberg’s innovation ecosystem firsthand when we gathered for the network’s European Division event this month. Organised by Heidelberg Technology Park, we enjoyed a content-packed programme under the theme “Vitalizing communities via TechParks and Clusters” with a full day of presentations at the technology park, and a second day of onsite visits to innovation sites around Heidelberg.

André Domin, CEO of Heidelberg Technology Park and President of IASP’s European Division, guided us through the many expert contributions, centred on four areas: clusters and collaborations, community building, city development and startup support.

Presentations covering European science park experiences, startup stories, city planning, digital expertise and clusters in biotechnology and printed organic electronics provided material for a fruitful discussion, enriched by the many science park colleagues among the audience, who added to the knowledge sharing with examples from their own science parks and cities.

These topics were elegantly illustrated by hands-on examples on the following day’s innovation tour, where we got to see many of the projects discussed, allowing a better understanding of, for instance, InnovationLab, presented by CEO Luat Nguyen on day 1 and opening its doors to attendees on day 2. It offered a dive into the world of printed organic electronics, which required translation for laymen when our guide explained the different lab equipment. Printed organic electronics: a truly thrilling concept that will bring entirely new applications of electronics into our everyday lives.

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03.05.2018 - 09:52