Mobility, university/industry partnerships drive innovation in Germany

November 4, 2014

An article in University Affairs looks at how Germany is able to consistently top lists of the world’s most innovative countries. The article cites a recent presentation by Hors Hippler, President of the German Rectors’ Conference. Hippler named 3 likely explanations for Germany’s success: the close ties between the nation’s universities and industry; the mobility of researchers among universities, research institutes, and businesses; and the country’s system of student internships. In Germany, Hippler says, industry and universities have been closely linked to one another since the 19th century, beginning with the technical universities established in order to foster growth in economically depressed areas. Hippler also noted that while there was some initial resistance to the idea of mandatory internships, such programs have allowed persons in fields ranging from natural sciences to philosophy to gain a better understanding of the opportunities afforded them by their degrees. He admitted that there is some risk in academia becoming too dependent on the private sector, but said that German institutions are still highly independent. He also notes that German companies have been receptive to hiring students with advanced degrees, valuing their capacity to innovate. University Affairs