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Dr. Julian Ruf 

M.Sc. Tobias Schmallenbach

M.Sc. Matthias Vogel  


Federal Ministry of Education and Research 


01.01.2023 - 31.12.2027




Project Description 

The University of Siegen is focused on sustainably developing and profiling its disciplinary diversity. Recent years have seen a significant intensification in the cooperation between the university and the regional community, moving towards a co-evolutionary development. This relationship heavily relies on co-production of knowledge, understood here as an evolution from traditional knowledge transfer. This involves addressing research questions that are directly relevant and beneficial to the region, which in turn stimulates innovative insights for academic research. These research questions are tackled in a transdisciplinary manner, closely connected with regional stakeholders from the economic, cultural, political, and civil sectors.

The university is located in a highly industrialized yet rural region at the tri-border area of South Westphalia, facing significant future challenges such as digitalization, decarbonization, and demographic changes. The university’s ethos "Shaping the future humanely" reflects its commitment not just to study these transformation processes, but to actively participate and shape them, contributing to the co-evolution of the university and the region.

The cooperation aims to develop exemplary solutions for the future of rural-industrial areas, which is crucial for the economic, social, and ecological prosperity and the political stability of liberal democracies. The strategies developed in South Westphalia could serve as models for other similar regions facing destabilization risks from authoritarian and extremist movements.

The project, known as FUSION, aligns with the funding guidelines of "Innovative University," aiming to strengthen the strategic role of universities in regional innovation systems and support full-profile development in ideas, knowledge, and technology transfer. The project sets out to create an innovation ecosystem centered around the university’s core competencies and the region's transformation challenges, reinforcing both the university and the region’s profiles as experts in managing the transformation of rural-industrial spaces.

The strategy outlines the conceptual framework for "Research-based Co-evolution," initiating the implementation of new profile lines described in the transfer strategy. Innovative real-lab formats are introduced to overcome existing transfer structure weaknesses, focusing on the region's needs. The new understanding of real labs involves innovative cooperation and transfer forms aimed at supporting co-evolution and knowledge co-production through collaborative experiments with regional partners on transformative regional issues.


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