Development of an innovation region around Fessenheim

How can the Fessenheim area become an innovation region after the closure of the nuclear power plant? The tri-national university alliance Eucor – The European Campus and the “Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research” (URCforSR) will develop a feasibility study with concrete investment options by the end of 2021. A corresponding financing agreement for the study, which is endowed with 800,000 euros, was signed by the French state, the Région Grand Est, the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community along with the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts of Baden-Württemberg. The study is fully in line with the memorandum of understanding on the Fessenheim area project signed on February 1, 2019 by the French and German partners, which aims, among other things, to develop the Fessenheim area into an innovation model for business and the energy revolution.

“The feasibility study promotes the development of holistic ideas. We want to develop the Fessenheim site as well as the surrounding Upper Rhine region into a CO2-neutral economic region,” says Prof. Dr. Barbara Koch, head of the Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research (URCforSR) and Chair of Remote Sensing and Landscape Information Systems at the University of Freiburg.

“The future of the Fessenheim area lies in cross-border cooperation,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Alain Dieterlen, Vice-President of Valorization at the Université de Haute-Alsace and Vice-President of Eucor – The European Campus. “I am pleased that we are receiving equal financial support from France and Germany for our study. Our common goal is to make the area near the Upper Rhine attractive for companies with a sustainable perspective for innovation and employment.”

The participating scientists from the Universities of Freiburg, Haute-Alsace and Strasbourg as well as the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are working closely with German and French industrial partners for the study. “This is a major advantage of the study. The intensive cooperation between business and science increases the chances of developing concrete investment opportunities for the Fessenheim area and increasing the competitiveness of the region as a whole,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth, Vice-President for Innovation and International Affairs at KIT and Vice-President of Eucor – The European Campus.

Four Franco-German competence groups are working together on the feasibility study. The three competence groups on green “batteries and battery recycling (circular economy),” “intelligent power grids (so-called smart grids)” and “hydrogen” are developing concrete pilot projects that will be located in the Fessenheim area in the future. A fourth group is looking at the social, legal and environmental challenges associated with these pilot projects. On this basis, Eucor – The European Campus and URCforSR are developing a roadmap for the implementation and financing of the pilot projects.

In the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration, the so-called Treaty of Aachen, Germany and France agreed on the joint further development of the area around the Fessenheim nuclear power plant on the Franco-German border after its decommissioning in June 2020. They aim to develop joint projects in the field of cross-border mobility, energy revolution and innovation within the framework of a Franco-German economic and innovation park.

About Eucor – The European Campus:

Eucor – The European Campus is a tri-national alliance between five universities in the Upper Rhine region. Its members are the Universities of Basel, Freiburg, Haute-Alsace, Strasbourg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Together, the universities combine the competencies of 15,000 researchers, 13,500 doctoral candidates and 117,000 students.

About URCforSR:

The Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research (URCforSR), which involves not only the Eucor universities but also many other university and research institutions of the Alliance TriRhenaTech as well as companies from the Upper Rhine region, is geared toward the topic of “Governance of sustainable transformation.” The logic behind these joint cross-border and interdisciplinary research activities is to benefit society through far-reaching knowledge transfer.

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