Founded in 1870 to strengthen “the productive power of the economy”, the University continues to successfully implement this original intention more than 150 years later. The aim of transferring knowledge to society, which was formulated when the University was founded, is a significant feature. The RWTH Aachen Campus project – a perfect example of the successful collaboration between universities, non-university research institutions, and companies – is an embodiment of the University’s innovative power. From here, university research is directly translated into specific (industrial) products and areas of application, thus facilitating agile feedback and development processes. At the same time, the RWTH Aachen Campus project has created a special environment where start-ups can flourish, making RWTH a leading tech incubator in Europe.
An unusual but excellent example of the University’s adaptability is its contributions to structural change in the Rhenish mining area. This area, close to Aachen, is one of many regions in Germany that is set to close its lignite mines in the next decade or so and must, therefore, be completely transformed. A field of activity has emerged here in which the University, with its particular research profile, is making decisive contributions by managing a unique transformation process. Based on the interdisciplinary competencies and network structures that have grown in recent years and are supported by funding from the Excellence Strategy, RWTH has succeeded in making a concerted and constructive contribution to this process together with its partners from science and industry. Conversely, this opens up a unique living lab for RWTH, where it can directly apply its research and expertise and explore connections to society. Focusing on the targeted promotion of key technologies will allow us to succeed in creating jobs with a promising future and thus establish a particularly productive link with society.
Embedded in RWTH’s genetic code is the transfer of results from basic and applied research into societally relevant innovations. This well-established process leads to numerous developments that are patented and exploited. The University’s innovative strength is also reflected in its high number of start-ups. RWTH is in the process of setting up Europe’s leading technology incubator to help talented and motivated start-up founders build powerful technology companies. With more than 75 RWTH spin-offs founded each year, in addition to numerous partner companies, over 190 inventions, and a strong network for large-scale funding, the RWTH Innovation Entrepreneurship Center offers all the necessary resources and expertise to support founders in establishing their start-ups. The University’s Collective Incubator also created a hotspot where students and their initiatives can become part of the entrepreneurial community.
RWTH sees sustainability as an integral feature of research and teaching. The University uses the resources at its disposal in research, teaching, and organization responsibly and efficiently. RWTH considers it a core task to answer the major societal questions of today while holistically integrating sustainability into all areas of University life. In this way, RWTH, together with the public, industry, political decision-makers, and other important stakeholders, is contributing to the sustainable development of our society. As a leading technical university, RWTH is in a unique position to take a guiding role here, resolving to play its part in shaping a sustainable future.