Hidden Regions



Project Description

The impact of funding organizations in a local ecosystem has gained more attention in the recent years. With the founding of the TUM Campus Heilbronn as the first non-Bavarian university location ever, an unprecedented step was taken to significantly influence the innovative strength and competitiveness of the region Heilbronn-Franken. This intervention is highly interesting from both an economic and scientific perspective: On the one hand, the establishment of a new campus of a reputable university marks an important milestone for a city to achieve university status. On the other hand, this type of investment can be seen as a kind of experimental “economic shock" which effects can be studied in the short and long term. Recent research on regional innovation ecosystems describe the expected economic and social effects as gradual over years, e.g. in terms of increasing university degrees, PhDs or successful research collaborations. It is expected that early impacts of the intervention will be visible and measurable in approx. 3-5 years. However, at the same time, initial decisions and processes are essential to gain a profound understanding of the transformation process.


Project Goals

The planned study intends to examine the emerging and/or changing innovation ecosystem around the Heilbronn Campus, which is located at the Education Campus of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation. Thereby, we focus on the complexity and dynamics of such an ecosystem, which will be investigated by a long-term accompanying research.

The aim of the study is, firstly, a long-term analysis of the impact of the new TUM campus on the regional innovation ecosystem in the Heilbronn-Franken region and beyond. Secondly, the effect of this "strategy" suggests implications for other regions within Germany (and possibly beyond). From this, recommendations for the further development of the Heilbronn innovation ecosystem can be derived, as well as being elaborated as a possible benchmark for other regions.


Project Plan

  1. Reviewing the innovation culture and ecosystem of the pre-intervention situation
  2. Mapping of the innovation ecosystem development over time
  3. Multi-year impact assessment using the Difference-and-Difference methods to compare Heilbronn with comparable regions without any intervention
  4. Conducting a comparative study between “Heilbronn-Franken” and other "hidden regions” for future positioning of the intervened region