Networking for a better future: universities, cities, companies and regions
The interactive relationships between universities and their environment are not limited to mere direct communication. Nowadays, universities rather network on multiple levels with cities, communities, regions and regional and national companies. They offer trainings and postgraduate professional education, start-up and transfer opportunities, service learning and children’s universities. They work together with enterprises in research alliances, conduct research through company funded chairs or foster and maintain company contacts for fundraising and sponsoring purposes.
Furthermore, universities are players in city development. They are members of round table discussions with mayors and administration officials and are a vital part of city marketing. In the area of regional development, universities work in close cooperation with other scientific institutions, regional associations and representatives of the metropolitan area. These activities and positions are characterized by their reciprocal relationships between the universities and external actors. However, they are strongly connected to the two key missions: research and teaching, the cornerstones of each higher education institution.
In an era of globalization, it has become clear that international networks are of growing importance and that universities need to cherish these bonds. Since communication is more often than not carried out through modern channels, it poses new challenges to tackle. Communication, fundraising and marketing departments embrace new and exciting tasks in modern networking, creating new opportunities in strategic planning, communication and cooperation, alumni relations as well as marketing.
The Mannheim Conference is built around the concept of universities as key connectors in wider local, regional, national and international networks. This comprehensive approach is broken down into four main themes: universities, cities and territory, public engagement, universities and industry, international networks.