The Sustainability Center was established in March 2015; the research projects in its first phase developed new kinds of technologies and it has become a fixture in the regional and national research landscape when it comes to sustainable development. The next step is to put scientific ideas into practice. For example, researchers are working to optimize LED technology for environmentally-friendly and health-promoting lighting in the workplace. The plan makes use of the results of an earlier project from the first phase of the Sustainability Center. In further demonstrator projects, researchers are undertaking the further development of particularly recyclable composite materials which can be produced using a 3D printer. And they are using modern sensor solutions to make longer-lasting parts for industrial production - and saving vastly on resources because millions of such parts currently have to be replaced often. All these ideas are set to be developed as technological demonstrators by the end of 2020 and to be realized within society in collaboration with businesses or via a new startup.
The Sustainability Center supports researchers above and beyond these projects when it comes to starting their own business. In this, the Center cooperates with the local startup-accelerators Badencampus and Smart Green. Interested teams from Freiburg’s Fraunhofer Institutes can apply to the Center for funding for their ideas. Furthermore, scientific findings can make their way into businesses via advanced professional training. For this reason, the Sustainability Center is building a service point for advanced training which will provide and structure the existing courses on technological sustainability issues and develop new formats.
The foundation for these application-oriented projects will continue to be the strength of sustainability research in Freiburg. Against this backdrop, it’s hoped the Sustainability Center will be able to have a dual-pillar structure of basic research and transfer starting in 2021. The Institute of Sustainable Technical Systems (INATECH) at the Faculty of Engineering is the engineering heart of the Sustainability Center. For the University of Freiburg and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the cooperation is equally important. The Sustainability Center is a cornerstone of the university’s overarching strategy, which aims to reinforce collaboration between researchers inside and outside the university and with business and the wider society under the motto “Connecting Creative Minds.” The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft aims to establish the instrument of Sustainability Centers - which have been successful at other locations in Germany - in the long term. Particularly successful Sustainability Centers such as the one in Freiburg are to get the chance to make their work a permanent part of the infrastructure for the transfer of scientific results to business and society.
Theresia Bauer, Minister for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts: “The Freiburg Sustainability Center is a success story. It stands as an example of how innovative research and science are in the state of Baden-Württemberg. We are especially happy that the Sustainability Center and INATECH have created an internationally unique university institute with a focus on technological sustainability research - this will reinforce Freiburg’s long-term standing as a research location. Based on its successes, we support the Center as it expands this focus in its second phase.”
Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Economy, Labor and Housing: “We have been glad to support the Freiburg Sustainability Center in its pilot phase. Now, over the next two years, the results of its research need to become promising business models fit for practical application. This is just the sort of initiative to help us retain our international competitiveness in the future, thereby strengthening Baden-Württemberg and a location for doing business.”
Martin Horn, Mayor of the city of Freiburg: “The Sustainability Center has become a part of Freiburg. We are delighted that the University of Freiburg and Fraunhofer here have placed sustainability research front and center - a topic which has no better place than the green city of Freiburg. The impressive results obtained by Freiburg researchers help us all, and we as a city are more than willing to implement innovative new ideas in collaboration with the Sustainability Center.”
Professor Dr. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft: “With its Sustainability Centers, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft has created an efficient instrument with which to meet our obligation of carrying out research for the good of the economy and of society even more directly than before. With our Centers, we place university and non-university research shoulder-to-shoulder with business in each location - and build functional transfer bridges to the regions. In doing so, we strengthen future-oriented economic and research location such as Freiburg even more in those areas in which they specialize. So to us, Freiburg is very clearly linked with technological sustainability research.”
Professor Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector of the University of Freiburg: “The Sustainability Center is a central element of our university strategy. In the coming years, we will place ourselves among the leading European research universities, under the motto “connecting creative minds.” Our close and trusted cooperation with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft on the Sustainability Center, unique in Germany, is a cornerstone of that. This collaboration enables us to cover the full value-added chain from excellent basic research, to application-oriented research, to genuine innovations.”