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The Dortmunder U cultural centre is a vital meeting point between science and urban society , Source: Mbdortmund on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

10 years of science integration into the regular Dortmund life – 10 more to come

10 years of science integration into the regular Dortmund life – 10 more to come

The story of Dortmund’s 2011 Science City Masterplan and how it grew in the new decade

The Dortmund Science City Masterplan was first developed in 2011 to boost the cooperation between the various universities and the student body with local businesses. However, that was more than 10 years ago and with the changing times, the city decided to extend the programme for another decade by introducing the Science City Masterplan 2.0.

One of the main points of the updated version was to build upon the success of its previous iteration, creating links between local entrepreneurs and the academic environment. The new version aims to boost that process but it also focuses on linking the general public to the idea generation process by providing spaces for science-driven innovation.

Building the ecosystem

In 2011, local authorities gave the go-ahead for the development of the Science City Masterplan to create an interlinked ecosystem of cooperation in Dortmund. The plan was coordinated by one Prof Dr Detlef Müller-Böling, a retired TU Dortmund professor of economics and social sciences.

The plan proposed 100 measures that were supposed to strengthen cooperation between institutions from science, business, city (administration), culture and politics. Up to 2021, according to a statement by the city, most of them were successfully implemented.

Some of the key measures included developing strategic scientific fields, to focus local efforts. These focused sectors were logistics, tech manufacturing, biomedicine and pharmaceutical research and education.

The next ten years

However, in 2019, an independent commission recommended that the plan be revamped and expanded. This process was handled by Prof Herbert Waldmann, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology, who explained that the focus should shift from a strictly professional approach to broad participation in development processes.

The plan was implemented in early 2021 and it featured four thematic groups.

  • Thematic group 1: The main point of this group of measures is to open up the Science City initiative to the general public through events and topics mixing science with culture.
  • Thematic group 2: Expanding the scientific focused approach to two new fields, Artificial intelligence/Data science and Demographic change.
  • Thematic group 3: Even more science and business cooperation. Dortmund is a city of medium-sized companies and the goal here is to strengthen the Westphalian science and economic area to entice more start-ups to move in and promote regional cooperation.
  • Thematic group 4: This group is focused on initiating an exchange between urban society and the scientific community. By organising and facilitating debate between the two, the Science City Masterplan hopes to boost Dortmund as a place for social innovation.

Mayor Thomas Westphal commented on the occasion: “The Science City Masterplan 2.0 opens up the process to urban society and the Westphalian economic region. Dortmund allows knowledge to grow – we are sending this message to our friends and neighbours in the city, the region, in Germany and in Europe.

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