Meeting regional and local challenges through scientific expertise: Rhine-Main universities successfully complete EU pilot project

Successful science-based communication between actors in academic and non-academic fields of action is an important concern, also at European level. The EU's Science meets Regions program, which promoted local and regional exchange between science and politics in the fields of green and digital change, addressed this concern in a practical manner. The pilot program enabled the Rhine-Main universities – Technical University of Darmstadt, Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz – to invite representatives from Hessian and Rhineland-Palatinate state institutions and city administrations in the Rhine-Main region to participate in a number of dialogue formats over the course of 2023.

As part of a practical day held at TU Darmstadt in March, guests from politics and administration were invited to learn about technical solutions for the self-sufficient emergency operation of photovoltaic systems in the event of a crisis. These photovoltaic systems are being researched as part of the eHUB project of the LOEWE center emergenCITY. The energy-efficient development of the Lichtwiese campus was demonstrated with EnEffCampus. This project is aimed at developing a concept for holistic energy supply – considering both electricity consumption and the regulation of heating and cooling. A guided tour of the ETA factory focused on the potential of energy-efficient production processes.

The program also included a format for discussions to be held between the participants and researchers from the Rhine-Main region. Almost 100 discussions were held in May and November. The topics of discussion ranged from integrated energy systems and mobility to health hazards caused by chemical exposure and the protection of biodiversity to the importance of social media for political discourse and the economic potential of artificial intelligence.

Andrej Gill, Professor of Corporate Finance at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, was one of the discussion partners: “Already today, the consideration of environmental risks, the effects of climate change and digital transformations pose major challenges for the financing of companies. Regulatory measures and support measures by the government must offer practical solutions to these complex challenges at regional level. I found the face-to-face discussions with representatives from Hessian and Rhineland-Palatinate state institutions very enriching, as I had the opportunity to present current research results and, at the same time, learn more about the knowledge requirements in politics and administration.”

At the end of the overall program, Professor Dr. Thomas Walther, Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs at TU Darmstadt, also drew a positive balance: "At the Rhine-Main universities, we are also working in numerous research projects on the urgent questions that we face when it comes to the transformation processes needed to work towards a resilient change in various fields such as digitalization and sustainability. Initiatives such as the European Union's Science meets Regions program make an important contribution to this. This contribution is significantly enhanced by the collaboration between our three universities within the RMU alliance. This increased impact reaches an encouragingly large number of stakeholders at local and regional level. We will further expand the cooperative networks that have been formed in recent months and continue the fruitful dialog with politics and administration."

Science meets Regions