Networking UAS research: UDIF-HAW delegation trips to Canada and the USA

Group picture of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George, Kanada


In order to further promote the internationalisation of research at universities of applied sciences (UAS, in German: Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften, HAW), the DFG sent a number of delegations to visit a total of 12 universities in North America from 10 to 30 September 2023. The trips enabled some 80 UAS representatives to deepen their contacts on site. They were accompanied by DFG Vice President Professor Dr. Karin Jacobs and two members of the DFG Senate, Professor Dr. Marion Merklein and Professor Dr. Mira Mezini.

The first cohort visited Purdue University (Lafayette), the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of North Florida (Jacksonville) and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU, Tallahassee) from 11-15 September. Representatives of the German UAS engaged in conversation with their North American colleagues on the topics of “Secure Digitalisation of Industrial Engineering” and “Health Care and Social Medicine throughout the Life Course”. 

The second delegation trip set out on 18 September, travelling to Northeastern University (Boston), York University (Toronto), McMaster University (Hamilton) and the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg). The theme of this delegation was better networking in the thematic area of “Innovative Materials – from Synthesis to Application”. 

The third group set off on 25 September, bringing together experts on the topics “Transformation of the Energy Sector in the wake of Climate Change” and “Smart Cities”. Here, UAS researchers engaged in close dialogue with their counterparts at the University of Washington (Seattle), Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), the University of Northern British Columbia (Prince George) and the University of Calgary. 

The participating North American universities had each prepared a thematically tailored programme to promote scientific exchange, including laboratory visits, scientific pitches and world cafés. In addition, the DFG joined forces with local staff of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and staff of the German Centres for Research and Innovation (DWIH) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to organise a range of different information sessions on funding formats for UAS. 

DFG Vice President Jacobs emphasised the relevance of research at UAS – especially in an international context: “The German research landscape is seeing fast and dynamic development, with research at universities of applied sciences taking on an increasingly important role. The relevance of research to practical application is very much in demand in an international context, especially with regard to the kind of current topics we focused on with our delegation trips. The same applies to all topic areas: only by working together will it be possible to overcome global challenges. This requires international networks and stable partnerships – both of which will be further strengthened by the UDIF-HAW initiative and as a result of our three theme-based delegation trips.” 

This assessment was shared by those who took part in the delegation trips: “ We may have different health systems but we share the same problems”, said Professor Dr. Martin Heckelmann of HTW Berlin, who was a member of the “Health Care and Social Medicine throughout the Life Course” group.

In addition to establishing contacts with the North American researchers, the interdisciplinary networking of UAS researchers among themselves was also seen as a benefit: “Without this trip, we would never have met,” said Professor Dr.-Ing. Andreas Kneissler from the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, who was involved in the “Secure Digitalisation of Industrial Engineering” delegation. He was able to establish new contacts with colleagues in the “Health Care and Social Medicine throughout the Life Course” group.  

The objective of UDIF-HAW activities is to network UAS researchers with international researchers and to raise awareness of DFG funding formats among UAS.

UDIF-HAW is part of the DFG package of measures to further develop the research potential at UAS.