It is no secret that the resources and potentials of rural regions in Brandenburg (and elsewhere) differ substantially from those of urban and metropolitan areas: Rural areas are structurally weak and suffer form demographic change and the migration of large parts of their population towards economically more attractive regions.
On the other side, rural areas offer numerous natural resources and regionally rooted companies which allows for completely distinct approaches.
One indispensable precondition for the development of such approaches is a functioning network for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and practices.
As C2C is not only a research project but also aims at testing (and developing) formats, which could be suitable for Brandenburg, we set out – against the previously described backdrop of challenges and potentials – to develop a model for strengthening the regional economy and innovative strength, through connecting local companies and universities, their know-how, resources and technologies within the framework of very hands-on formats for research and development.
As the model served the open source project Grüne Werkstatt Wendland, based in the very rural western-German region called Wendland, mostly famous for the anti-nuclear protest movement (read more in this earlier blogpost or go directly to their website).
Marc Piesbergen, the former project director of this very successfully running project, who had already contributed to the 3rd regional workshops of the project wrote a concept for us, which we discussed in detail with a group of interested people from Brandenburg institutions and projects in an intense workshop at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam (Fachhochschule Potsdam). Read the full documentation (in German) here.
At the core of the whole concept lies the so-called local „Projektbörse“, a kind of project pool containing unsolved problems, undeveloped ideas and the like which are fed into the pool by the companies for students from different disciplines (such as e.g. design, engineering, cultural tourism and the like) and different regions to be worked on in close collaboration with the companies.
The connection of the universities and the oftentimes unidentified know-how of the local companies harbors the great potential of being able to refine existing business models and products in an innovative way, to test approaches which have not yet been taken into consideration and to identify focal points, which are content-wise and technologically new.
This attempt shall be pursued beyond the borders of the individual regions of Brandenburg, building a network to which each university and business location can contribute with their own individual knowhow and competencies – the network of the „Creative regions Brandenburg“.
In addition to the “Projektbörse” we also discussed the following formats:
- interdisciplinary project weeks
- cross-sectoral innovation camps involving different universities
- an open and very practical format involving vocational colleges and similar educational institutions
- a temporary regional display window
- a creative business competition with jury and prize, e.g. a creative business cup
Our guests discussed each format with regards to their own experience in the field, the resources and contact at their disposal and developed some of the ideas further.
Of special interest were the questions as to which university disciplines to involve and on how to start (involve the whole “Land” or start with a smaller group of one or two pilot regions).
The participants also agreed that the building upon already existing structures and involving already active players in the regions would be key.
They discussed if yet another competition was necessary and how this format could maybe be developed further in order to create something new and unique which stands out against the other existing competitions and really helps the winners. For example it might be useful if the winners would not receive a prize but the support for realizing the idea for which they submitted a concept.
The participants also developed the temporary regional display from something nonmotile to an interactive and mobile format with potential for involving the local population and creating a real buzz in the media and visibility for the whole region.
A working group was not formed out of the meeting, but the individual participants are already discussing next steps. We will try to keep track of the developments ans write about them here …