Materials Technology as a Bridge between Science and Industry across different Disciplines and Sectors

Holger Kunze
Fraunhofer IWU Dresden / Innovation Network smart³

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Frithjof Meinel
Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle

W.-G. Drossel
Fraunhofer IWU Dresden

Mattes Brähmig
Innovation Network smart³

This Conference contribution will lay out how an interdisciplinary network can promote a radical paradigm shift in product perception and what tasks are needed to establish a productive atmosphere that fosters sustainable collaboration between universities and industrial companies successfully.
In Germany 70 % of all technological innovations are based on new materials and materials technology (Source: Zukunftsletter of the ITZ Heidelberg).
Materials technology is a key technology for the future and calls for a paradigm shift in the product: The fusion of functions and structures. The smart³ innovation network is based on this key technology. Our particular focus is on smart materials. These materials are both a source of innovation and a bridge between scientific disciplines, industrial sectors, and organisational structures. The smart³ network has been established by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) during his “Zwanzig20-Partnerschaft für Innovation” programme. Since 2013, the network aims to establish a strategic cooperation between research institutions and companies in order to create a stable national innovation structure in the field of smart materials. Thus, the paradigm shift in the product also results in a paradigm shift in organisational arrangements and social contexts.
To achieve this, the smart³ network brings together science, engineering, economics, social sciences and applied arts - all in the name of smart materials. Researchers and scientists collaborate with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to foster projects based on smart materials. Pooling strengths in the field of smart materials, smart³ consists of 150 institutions (46 joint projects, involving 143 partners), today.
This conference contribution provides an overview on how a cross-disciplinary network with a fast growing number of members can be built up, managed and stabilized. Furthermore, it lays out strategies to foster collaboration and initiate breakthrough ideas for the benefit of cross-disciplinary R&D projects. Using case studies and best practices from the fields of smart production, smart living and smart mobility, the interdisciplinary approach of smart³ is made clear and innovative product ideas for the participating companies are presented.
The network not only engages in developing innovative products and production technologies, but consciously places emphasis on questions of “interdisciplinary and networking” as well as “visibility and acceptance”. The former focusses on the complex partner constellations in our network with actors coming from different disciplines and organisational backgrounds taking into account their specific motives and institutionalized working cultures. The latter addresses the integration of socially relevant challenges as well as raising the awareness of the interested public for smart materials. Exhibitions at the Bauhaus Dessau, the Science Centre Technical Collections Dresden or the Excite Conference showcase the participation of the interested public and their feedback. Besides all these activities, the smart³ network organizes educational training programmes for different age groups and academic levels as well as for SMEs.