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49th meeting of the Regional Conference of the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion

The future of culture - dialog at eye level

Date of publication:
April 5, 2024

When culture and business come together, it's not just about money and sponsorship per se. This was made abundantly clear at the 49th meeting of the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion's regional conference. Rather, cooperation at eye level was the wish of all participants.

"We wanted to create something new within the regional conference with the format of a discussion round with the most important cultural players in the region," explains its Chairman and IHK President Wolfgang Grenke. "We offered a platform in the IHK Haus der Wirtschaft to network the worlds. We should realize that we have an exceptional cultural landscape by international standards, which is far too often taken for granted." Everyone agreed that culture means quality of life. "It is also an important location factor. If we want to keep people in our region or attract them to our region, this is an asset that we can use to our advantage. In the competition between regions, our exceptional range of cultural facilities and events is a clear unique selling point. It is not without reason that the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion has the slogan "High-tech meets lifestyle", because culture in its many forms is an important location factor, also from an economic point of view. This will play an increasingly important role, especially against the background of the shortage of skilled workers." In this context, Grenke highlighted the cooperation between the Welcome Center of the TechnologyRegion (TRK) and the Badisches Staatstheater.

Karlsruhe's Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup also emphasized: "With the start of new eras in some venues, we are looking forward to exciting times in our regional cultural scene, which may even have an impact on the whole country. Everyone involved is aware that cultural institutions are increasingly becoming places of discussion that must also be attractive to the younger generations."

Wolf E. Rahlfs, artistic director of the Badische Landesbühne Bruchsal, wants the aforementioned dialog at eye level. "We are not supplicants," explains the former actor and director firmly. Johannes Graf-Hauber, Director of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, takes a similar view. "We seek out and use collaborations with the business world. For example, in the area of 3D printing for our stage sets. Or, with regard to the TRK hydrogen offensive, I ask myself the question: why can't we as a theater test a hydrogen truck for our fleet?" Efficient and sustainable theater renovation would also be impossible without cooperation with the private sector.

Incidentally, sustainability is also a topic close to the heart of Nicola May, director of the Stadttheater Baden-Baden. Her wish for the region in response to the question posed by moderator Dr. Volkmar Baumgärtner, Managing Director of KulturRegion Karlsruhe: better public transport connections to the theater. Not least in terms of sustainability. She also made it clear that theater is timeless and (almost) crisis-proof. Ultimately, it only needs one person on stage and one person in the audience. An art of the moment.

A second important topic came into play here: for May and Rahlfs, theater and culture are above all analog, not in the sense of opposing digital, but as places of encounter between people in the audience or, ideally, with the people on stage. Perhaps also as places of encounter in the middle of the city. Prof. Dr. Frédéric Bußmann, Director of the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, for example, has to make a virtue out of necessity. Baumgärtner calls it closed but open. "We are a nomadic museum," explains Bußmann, "dependent on cooperation, for example with the ZKM, which has given the exhibitions a new home, a strategy for the future born out of necessity. This shows that a museum is more than just a place. Here, too, there are opportunities for cooperation with industry, namely in partnership for a sustainable expansion of the Kunsthalle.

Prof. Dr. Eckart Köhne, Director of the Baden State Museum, whose home, Karlsruhe Palace, is to be renovated from autumn 2025, is facing a similar situation. He is hoping for asylum in the city center. "After all, culture is an important location factor for tourism and a component of a liveable city center."

Alistair Hudson, who has been director of the ZKM for one year and two days, wants to lead the museum into its third era, into the "Post-Digital Bauhaus" chapter. How could it be otherwise, the Englishman is focusing on international digital collaborations that make time and space unimportant and no longer direct the focus of the cultural world exclusively on the world's cultural capitals. Karlsruhe can also score points here with extraordinary innovations, not least thanks to the cooperation between culture, business and technology.

All those involved saw the subsidies for the cultural facilities as justified. "The investment in a society worth living in is definitely worth the money.

View into the TRK

Managing Director Jochen Ehlgötz provided the traditional look at the activities of TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe GmbH. As already mentioned, the region is focusing heavily on H2 hydrogen as a very important energy source for the region's future energy supply and as a contribution to CO2 neutrality. "We have enormous expertise in this area. Within our project, "Climate protection and value creation through hydrogen - KWH2", we want to show ways, define framework conditions and are planning an initial modeling by the H2iPortKAMod project consortium in the Rhine port."

In this context, Ehlgötz announces the Hydrogen Week from June 17 to 21, 2024 at the IHK Karlsruhe.

Other key topics at TRK include national and possibly international networking in the field of bioeconomy. Work is currently underway on a bioeconomy strategy for the region, which will be presented at the IHK on April 22. The NEO 2024 Innovation Award also deals with the topic of sustainability. It is looking for innovations in the circular economy.

Finally, the Baden-Baden Film and Series Festival was presented, which is considered one of the most important industry gatherings.

Regional conference TRK (Source: IHK)

Second art prize awarded in the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion

You have until April 26 to apply online for the 2nd Art Prize, which will be awarded in summer 2025

Date of publication:
March 25, 2024

The art prize is aimed at artists who live and work at TRK . The basic idea of the art prize is to challenge critical voices on the subject of AI in particular against the backdrop of the diversity of applications and areas of use. For this reason, TRK explicitly encourages artists to take a critical look at the risks of this technology, which is no longer entirely new.
 
You can find the complete call for entries at kunstpreis-in-der-trk.de

Public transportation: Efficient services for commuting between urban and rural areas

The German Center for Future Mobility is launching a site project in Karlsruhe to improve transport links between the city and the surrounding area

Date of publication:
March 8, 2024

Living in the countryside and working in the city is a challenge for many people. Seamless, efficient transportation systems are still rare in rural areas and often offer no alternative to owning a car. Researchers in the Country to City Bridge - C2C Bridge project at the Karlsruhe site of the German Center for Future Mobility (DZM) are now investigating how to design sustainable and attractive transport services between urban and rural areas. Led by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the focus is on public transport services such as shared autonomous on-demand cabs and intelligent transfer hubs. In addition to the technical issues, the researchers also want to look at the social acceptance of new mobility technologies.
 
"In order to bring everyone along on the road to sustainable mobility, we need convincing, effective and seamless solutions for commuting between the city and the surrounding area," says Professor Oliver Kraft, representing the President of KIT. "With the strong cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional approach of C2C Bridge, we can make a decisive contribution to the development of such solutions."
 
"In C2C Bridge, long-standing partners are pooling their expertise to develop planning concepts and the appropriate technical solutions. The needs and feedback of the users are part of the work right from the start," says Professor Thomas Hirth, Vice President Transfer and International Affairs at KIT.
 
"With the development of the 'Karlsruhe Model', our region has already laid important foundations for sustainable mobility in the city and surrounding area in the past," adds Karlsruhe's Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup. "Now we need to integrate further offers - and C2C Bridge is a promising approach here. We are delighted that the fan-shaped city is once again doing pioneering work."
 
Autonomous mobility services with high social acceptance
 
In daily commuter traffic in Germany, the average car is only occupied by 1.1 people, with correspondingly high space and energy requirements and the resulting CO2 emissions per person in commuter traffic. In C2C Bridge, the researchers are investigating how they can close the current gaps in public transport services. "We are particularly interested in looking at which aspects, including the degree of individualization, are decisive for people being able and willing to change their mobility behavior," says Professor Frank Gauterin, Head of the Institute of Vehicle Systems Engineering at KIT and spokesperson for the C2C Bridge consortium.
 
The aim is to develop a mobility service with a high level of social acceptance based on new, automated vehicle concepts and their networked operation. Automated call-and-collect cabs in rural areas should offer a service that makes it possible to get to your destination efficiently. At the same time, they will be designed to transport up to four people, wheelchairs, baby carriages and luggage. At mobility stations on the outskirts of cities, it will be possible to switch to conventional public transport or other alternative means of transport such as rental bikes. This will connect rural areas to the city. "In addition, the vehicles will in future be able to drive in convoys, also known as platoons, in dense traffic in order to take up less space and improve safety and efficiency at the same time," says Gauterin.
 
Analysis of society's mobility needs
 
In order to develop needs-based solutions, the researchers are in close dialog with all stakeholders: "In order to gain a differentiated understanding of mobility needs in urban and rural areas, we will engage in an intensive exchange with citizens, potential operators, urban planners and vehicle manufacturers," says Professor Peter Vortisch, Head of the Institute of Transportation at KIT. This also means that the researchers will present different vehicles and infrastructures in C2C Bridge. Based on the analysis, the scientists want to develop and build prototypes of vehicles and mobility stations in a second project phase. "The transport offer will be developed with constant feedback from users in order to research the optimal transition between urban and rural areas," says Vortisch.
 
KIT initiated the C2C Bridge site project and is involved with a total of 12 institutes. The consortium partners are the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, an innovation partner of KIT, the Baden-Württemberg Institute for Sustainable Mobility at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI and the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB. Together, these Karlsruhe mobility research institutes form the "KAMO: Karlsruhe Mobility" research cluster, in which they have been working together on various projects since 2016.
 
C2C Bridge and the German Center for Future Mobility
 
The overall Country to City Bridge - C2C Bridge project started at the beginning of 2024 and will run until 2027. The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport is funding the first part of the project with 12.3 million euros.
 
The project is embedded in the German Center for Future Mobility (DZM), which, with its four locations in Hamburg, Annaberg-Buchholz, Minden and Karlsruhe, spans a nationwide research network and pools expertise in mobility research. During the course of the project and beyond, the locations will network via a series of events. These serve to promote communication in politics, business and society as well as cooperation between the locations. Annual rolling conferences, seminars and winter schools bring the scientists from the locations together. Continuous coordination between the projects at working and management level creates synergies and allows the project results to be checked for transferability.
 
Further information: fast.kit.edu/Projects
 
Researchers in the C2C Bridge project are investigating transport systems for an optimal transition between urban and rural areas. (Image: KAMO 2024)
Researchers in the C2C Bridge project are investigating transport systems for an optimal transition between urban and rural areas. (Image: KAMO 2024)

TRK is pleased about the funding of the project "TransBIB" - TRANSFERNETZWERK ZUR BESCHLEUNIGUNG DER INDUSTRIELLEN BIOÖKONOMIE

More than 20 stakeholders from the industrial bioeconomy's model regions are pooling their expertise in the nationwide TransBIB funding project. Their goal: to accelerate Germany's transformation to an industrial bioeconomy. The project is being funded by the BMWK with EUR 5.6 million.

Date of publication:
February 27, 2024

The bioeconomy concept aims to reduce dependence on non-renewable raw materials and instead rely on biological, renewable resources and biogenic residues. The approach combines ecological sustainability with economic growth. Innovations in the fields of biotechnology, green chemistry and the sustainable use of resources play an important role here.

However, the transfer of bioeconomic developments from research laboratories to industrial production is progressing very slowly. Promising bioeconomic solutions are already available in Germany today, but are often not ready for industrial production. Biotechnological innovations that have been successfully developed in the laboratory must first be validated in an industry-oriented environment before production can be scaled up and market acceptance can be generated with a corresponding willingness to invest. As the test environment required for this, e.g. the construction of demonstration plants, is very cost-intensive and associated with technical and regulatory challenges, experts refer to this phase of the technology maturity model as the 'Valley of Death'.

The aim of the nationwide TransBIB funding project is to accelerate the transfer and scaling of bioeconomic innovations:

✔️ Networking bioeconomy stakeholders "bottom-up" throughout Germany

The TransBIB transfer network links the example regions of the industrial bioeconomy and pools expertise in research, industry and politics in order to make scalable bioeconomy technologies accessible to industry more quickly from the bottom up. TransBIB forms the national framework for accelerating the bioeconomy and actively promotes cooperation with the state ministries responsible for the bioeconomy, including the Federal Government's Bioeconomy Council and the Industrial Bioeconomy Dialogue Platform.

✔️ Inventory of the "one-stop store" bioeconomy

Knowledge on the bioeconomy has so far been very scattered and fragmented. TransBIB is therefore conducting a Germany-wide inventory of industrial sites and databases in order to subsequently bundle them in a new "one-stop store". In addition, expert networks are preparing important bioeconomy topics and communicating them to specific target groups.

✔️ Prediction and evaluation of new bio-based value chains

New bio-based value chains are needed to achieve independence from oil. To this end, a digital tool is used to digitally record material flows in the sample regions, make them usable and thus develop new value creation networks. These are then evaluated in terms of their feasibility and sustainability and proposed to the example region for implementation.

✔️ Easy access to regulatory and certification issues

TransBIB will provide easy access to regulatory issues and certification for companies and develop proposals to simplify them.

✔️ Training the specialists of the future

The transition of the economy to bio-based circular systems requires new skills for industry specialists. TransBIB is therefore developing future-oriented training concepts to counteract a shortage of skilled workers in Germany.

The "TransBIB" project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) as part of the "Directive to promote the use and construction of demonstration plants and model regions for the industrial bioeconomy" with a total of over €5.6 million. The project sponsor is VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH. The first funding period runs for 36 months from October 2023 to September 2026.
The TransBIB consortium consists of 14 partner organizations, including universities, research institutes, innovation clusters and regional development companies as well as other associated partners and subcontractors. The joint project is headed by Dr. Matthias S. Scholz at the Technical University of Munich.

TransBIB@TRK
TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe GmbH is involved in the project, particularly in the areas of networking stakeholders and regions, internationalization and the creation of new value chains and business areas.
Contact: Dr. Petra Jung-Erceg | [email protected]

Further links:
- Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK):
https://www.bmwk.de/Navigation/DE/Home/home.html
- BMWK example regions of the industrial bioeconomy:
https://www.bmwk.de/Navigation/Karte/SiteGlobals/Forms/Formulare/karte-beispielregionen-formular.html?queryResultId=null&pageNo=0
- Federal Government Bioeconomy Council:
https://www.biooekonomierat.de/
- Dialogue platform industrial bioeconomy:
https://www.bmwk.de/Redaktion/DE/Dossier/industrielle-biooekonomie-wachstum-und-innovation.html
- Funding guideline:
https://www.bmwk.de/Redaktion/DE/Downloads/F/foerderrichtlinie-industrielle-biooekonomie.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=1
- Bioeconomy in the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion:
https://trk.de/kernk

Transport Minister Dr. Volker Wissing visits lithium extraction optimization plant in Landau, Rhineland-Palatinate

First plant for the production of green lithium on a ton scale worldwide

Date of publication:
November 29, 2023

Federal Transport Minister Dr. Volker Wissing visited Vulcan's newly opened lithium extraction optimization plant (LEOP) in Landau, Rhineland-Palatinate, on Saturday, 25 November. The LEOP will be the first plant in the world to produce green, climate-neutral lithium on a tonne scale. During his visit, the Transport Minister emphasized the importance of domestic raw material extraction for the German and European battery and automotive industry. Petra Dick-Walther, State Secretary for Economic Affairs in Rhineland-Palatinate, and Hans-Peter Behrens, Member of the Baden-Württemberg State Parliament, also visited the Vulcan plant with Wissing. On the day of the official opening, numerous local politicians and representatives of public interests, such as Dr. Dominik Geissler, Mayor of Landau, and Andreas Tschauder, Head of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Office for Geology and Mining, celebrated the commissioning of the LEOP together with Vulcan representatives.

With the LEOP, Vulcan is also opening the first plant on European soil that will provide lithium extracted entirely in Europe on a ton scale. Vulcan has set itself the goal of becoming the world's first producer of green lithium while at the same time providing renewable energy. Using deep geothermal energy, the company will extract lithium from the lithium-rich, hot brine of the Upper Rhine Graben and at the same time provide renewable energy for local communities and industry. With this project, Vulcan is aiming to establish Europe's first safe and sustainable lithium supply chain and support the German and European battery and automotive industries in their transformation towards a climate-neutral future.

For almost three years, Vulcan successfully tested lithium extraction from the thermal water of the Upper Rhine Graben for 18,000 hours in pilot plants in Insheim and Landau (Rhineland-Palatinate). The results show high lithium extraction rates and use of the sorbent tested without signs of wear over several thousand cycles. Vulcan uses VULSORB®, a sorbent developed in-house, in the process. Compared to conventional products, this has a higher efficiency.

During his visit, the Minister of Transport emphasized the need for domestic raw material production in view of the ramp-up of electromobility. The European Union has decided to phase out combustion engines by 2035. The automotive industry is dependent on the procurement of large quantities of critical battery raw materials. Europe currently obtains more than 80% of the lithium it needs from refineries in China. With the Critical Raw Materials Act and the Net Zero Act, the European Union has underpinned its decision to reduce the existing dependency in this area. Domestic raw materials projects are to be promoted.

"What we are seeing today in Landau with the new Vulcans plant is a small revolution," said Wissing during his visit. "For the first time, a plant will produce tons of lithium entirely in Europe - and in a climate-neutral way. Extracting raw materials locally is the key to a self-sufficient and secure supply for Europe. The extraction of lithium from thermal water in the Upper Rhine Graben is a promising opportunity with great potential to establish a secure, independent lithium supply chain in Europe. This creates new jobs and strengthens Germany as a location for innovation and business."

Successful exchange on the topic of securing skilled workers in the automotive industry in Rastatt

"The technology of tomorrow must be learned today."

Date of publication: November 24, 2023

The further education and training of transformation processes in the automotive industry requires new skills, according to Jochen Ehlgötz, Managing Director of TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe (TRK) GmbH, who hosted the 5th edition of the Business Breakfast Transformation of the Regional Automotive Industry on November 14 in the Reithalle Rastatt in front of around 60 guests. The joint event organized by Automotive Engineering Networks (aen), the city of Rastatt and TRK GmbH showcased support options, funding opportunities and many examples of best practice - also with a view to markets and international specialists.

The transformation is bringing major changes for employees, explained Rastatt's outgoing mayor Hans Jürgen Pütsch, precisely because companies are also thinking in decades: It is necessary to network across borders, according to the head of the town hall, who thanked for the thematic treatment of the topic. It is particularly important that contacts are also established and maintained between companies, after all, change is sometimes already taking place within companies. "This is both a risk and an opportunity," said Pütsch, especially in the area of mobility, where priorities are shifting, "also for politics!"

In a panel discussion with examples of best practice, Julia Kraft, Head of HR at mobility service provider Wackenhut GmbH & Co. KG and Dr. Falk Hartmann, principal of the Carl-Benz-Schule Gaggenau, shared insights into their work with (prospective) trainees. Against the backdrop of changing job profiles and the transformation of technology, alternative drive types, sensor technology and AI must already be taught at school. This makes an intensive dialog between schools and companies all the more important - the technology of tomorrow must be learned today. The discussion showed that appreciating the work, identifying with the company by building up emotions and increasing the value of training can be strategies for attracting and retaining trainees.

Marco Baumgartner from the Institute for Learning and Innovation in Networks (ILIN) at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences used the "KARL" project ("Artificial Intelligence for Work and Learning in the Karlsruhe Region") to shed light on the topic of "future technology AI" and the skills that specialists need for the upcoming transformation. "KARL" addresses skills in the context of AI and examines the implementation of these in companies.

Whether retraining, partial qualification, further training support for employees in companies or careers advice: Tanja Bäuerle and Steffen Dorst from the Employer Service of the Karlsruhe-Rastatt Employment Agency discussed possible support in all phases of working life. Low-threshold offers are important, and a personal approach is also a success factor in the company. When it comes to qualifications, it is important to build on strengths.

Regine Zizelmann from the Baden-Württemberg State Network for Continuing Education Guidance highlighted continuing education guidance as a cross-sectional task for overcoming the shortage of skilled workers: educational guidance is definitely also a management tool and must be brought into companies to combat the shortage of skilled workers.

Petra Bender from the Welcome Center of the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion spoke about attracting and retaining international skilled workers at TRK . The international approach to securing skilled workers is also of enormous importance for the region. Whether companies, local authorities or research institutions: the Welcome Center offers targeted advice, from recruitment and residence law issues to integration into the company.

Tim Siegel from the Landeslotsenstelle Transformationswissen BW addressed the topic of consulting vouchers. Among other things, medium-sized companies in the automotive supply industry could receive support ranging from strategy consulting to process optimization.

Information and further dates can be found at www.ae-network.de and at the Karlsruhe Mobility Lab.

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Julia Spiegl
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Further topics
Regional conference on the mobility transition
At the annual Mobility Turnaround Regional Conference, a joint project of the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion and the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, you will gain insights into how digitalization, cycling and innovative infrastructures can make a sustainable contribution to a mobility turnaround in moderated panel discussions, keynote speeches and specialist forums.
Karlsruhe Mobility Lab
A key focus of the mobility transition is the further development of local public transport and the development of new mobility concepts. The Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion (TRK) is a pioneer in sustainable mobility development with its core competence of mobility.
KULT award ceremony
The Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion (TRK) honors original projects and productions with the Culture Prize every two years. On this page you can find out all the details about the KULT Prize from TRK.