Yesterday Thomas Baaken, Director of the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre, and myself went to Berlin to participate in the final event of the 2013 Berlin Innovation Consensus. Of course, we had a good reason to drive 500km to Berlin: UIIN was selected as one of the top 25 projects (out of nearly 400) shaping the future German innovation climate and we were keen to join 200 other invited guests and discuss how to advance innovation in Germany.
The main aim of the Berlin Innovation Consensus is to develop and promote a charter of the 10 most relevant aspects helping to advance the innovation climate in Germany. Initiated by Google, Shell, Deutsche Bank and factory, the project started in June this year with a community sourcing of ideas and projects. Overall, nearly 400 suggestions have been made during the community sourcing phase. The top 25 projects were then selected and discussed by 34 experts from business, science and culture in a 1.5 day event in order to derive the 10 most relevant opportunities for enhancing the innovation culture in Germany.
The 34 experts came from science, business and culture and included, just to name some prominent examples, Dr. Heinrich Arnold (Global Head T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom), Harald Eisenach (Member of the Board, Deutsche Bank), Philipp Justus (Managing Director, Google Germany), Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Schildhauer (Director, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society), Ulrik Nehammer (Chairman of the Board, Coca-Cola Germany), Volker Smid (Chairman the Board, Hewlett-Packard GmbH), Cafer Tosun (SAP Innovation Center, SVP & Managing Director).
According to the experts I was able to speak with, the approach of UIIN to foster linkages between science and business organisations to generate benefits for both parties and society in general has been extensively discussed during the 1.5 day consensus workshop and was found to be a key area for advancing the German innovation climate. As a result, the Berlin Innovation Consensus Charter states as one of its 10 points: „Science, society and industry must pull together to create integrated and lifelong learning infrastructures“. Interestingly, the charter summarises the three stakeholders in the above sentence as „Triple Helix“. The original triple helix concept of Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff, however, includes government, not society. The later developed quadruple helix involves both. This little mistake is not a problem per se, but might indicate that the importance of university-industry linkages is widely recognised, but in-depth knowledge still remains with those who dedicate large parts of their time to it (such as the members of UIIN and other networks).
At UIIN we are proud that our work has again been recognised at the highest level in Germany and we hope that the Berlin Innovation Consensus and the new contacts we made during the event will help us to further develop our knowledge and practice with respect to university-industry interaction and innovation. Ultimately, the most important thing is to meet others which are as passionate about innovation as you are – the 2013 Berlin Innovation Consensus has definitely achieved this. Importantly, the charter has been handed over to Anne Ruth Herkes, State Secretary of the German Ministry for Economics and Technology, so that we hope that the German government will (hopefully sooner than later) foster these 10 innovation drivers by setting up specific initiatives.
I would like to congratulate and thanks the initiators for organising such a great event and making a clear contribution to advancing the innovation climate in Germany. It has been a great achievement to join forces of 4 leading organisations to organise the event, to convince 34 experts from science, business and culture to spend 1.5 days on developing the charter, and finally to bring together 200 guests from all over Germany to discuss and network at the final event. Again, my sincere congratulations to the organisers.