Universities and higher education, the humanities and economics: Our wide-ranging support for higher education across Düsseldorf
As a strong player in the state capital, Messe Düsseldorf is committed to sponsoring local higher education. As part of these efforts, 28 August saw the 45th drupa Prize go to Aceyla Bakir for her doctoral thesis written in the Philosophical Faculty of Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf. We discussed this with Dr. Christian Plenge, Head of Digital Strategy at Messe Düsseldorf, and Chairman of the Society of Friends of the Faculty of Business and Economics at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences (HSD), as well as with Sabine Geldermann, Director of drupa, the world’s biggest trade fair for print technologies. An insight into partnership, promotion and top academic performances.
What makes Messe Düsseldorf’s university sponsorship so special?
Sabine Geldermann: Its wide variety – we sponsor the university and the university of applied sciences, the humanities and business and economics. As a subsidiary of the City of Düsseldorf and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, on the one hand, and one of the world’s biggest trade fair companies, on the other, we show presence and are very active here.
Dr. Christian Plenge: We are committed to the strength of the location with a healthy mix of business, education, quality of life and future orientation – in this context university sponsorship is an important component as is our support for the start-up community in Düsseldorf via the digihub and K67, to name but a few examples.
Recently, Messe Düsseldorf awarded the drupa Prize 2023. At first sight, the link between drupa and Düsseldorf’s higher education landscape is not all clear. Why does this particular trade fair feature in this context?
Sabine Geldermann: Being the world-leading trade fair for print technologies, drupa is one of the biggest and most relevant trade fairs held in Düsseldorf. At drupa city, for example, we are integrating various locations throughout Düsseldorf into the trade fair programme via a hospitality concept with local partners from the hotel, gastronomy and retail sectors. In this way, drupa constantly shows its presence in urban life. Beyond this, we would also like to play an active role in the location that is Düsseldorf and make a sustainably positive impact on the city. Inspiration, innovation and knowledge transfer are key themes of drupa, wonderfully matching the universities’ self-image. As an innovation platform for print technologies, drupa is also the ideal partner for the promotion of young talents and the support of the print segment.
And how does the drupa Prize support young talents in concrete terms?
Sabine Geldermann: The drupa Prize comes with EUR 6,000 prize money, which flows into the printing costs of the award-winning doctoral theses – in line with drupa’s standing as the global No. 1 trade fair for print technologies. For over 40 years, we have recognised young academics from the Philosophical Faculty at Heinrich-Heine-University in this way. By the way, the awarding of the drupa Prize is decided upon by a body of experts comprising the Rector and Prorector of Heinrich-Heine-University, the Chairman of the drupa committee and the President & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf.
What do you personally appreciate about the drupa Prize?
Sabine Geldermann: It is very enriching for me to encounter such fascinating personalities in this context, who on the basis of their passion for a specific field of research achieve unique accomplishments, act as role models and inspire young people. I also very much enjoy the exchange with the doctoral students. This way, I am always introduced to exciting topics – away from the daily routine of the trade fair.
How does Messe Düsseldorf sponsor the city’s students other than the drupa Prize?
Dr. Christian Plenge: Here, the Förderverein des Fachbereichs Wirtschaftswissenschaften der Hochschule Düsseldorf, FVW (Society of Friends of the Faculty of Business and Economics at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences) comes into play, which I have chaired since June 2022. For over 40 years now we have been dedicated to the cooperation between business and academia. Jointly with committed companies we support the Faculty of Business and Economics at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences in particular. For instance, by means of student excursions, guest lectures, academic parties, scholarships and sponsorship awards. Recently, we set up a new, closed LinkedIn group of the FVW through which students can independently make contact with committed companies, thereby gaining faster access to the world of work or finding a partner for their Bachelor’s or Master’s dissertation.
Why does Messe Düsseldorf specifically promote business and economics?
Dr. Christian Plenge: Messe Düsseldorf is one of the founding members of the FVW, which was established in the early 1970s just after the building of Düsseldorf’s University of Applied Sciences – the forerunner of today’s Düsseldorf University. The aim has always been to contribute to the most practical training possible for students, since we ourselves, as a strong company in Düsseldorf, always have a need for young talent in the fields of economics. With the lecture “International Trade Fair Marketing” on the International Management course, our content can even be found directly on the university’s modular syllabus.
What makes your activities as a Chairman of the Society of Friends so special?
Dr. Christian Plenge: I am happy to be able to give back this way for the support I was granted earlier as an electrical engineering student in Aachen. In addition, we count many major companies from Düsseldorf and the surrounding area as well as interesting figures among our members. The joint exchange enriches me and complements my work at Messe Düsseldorf. And the cooperation in the new management team with Stefan Dahm from the Municipal Savings Bank Stadtsparkasse and Martin Ebel from the newspaper Rheinische Post is really fun!
Does Messe Düsseldorf also sponsor universities outside of Düsseldorf?
Sabine Geldermann: As part of our numerous world-leading trade fairs we support universities and higher education institutes particularly active in the industries our trade fairs cover – either by sponsoring individual projects or by providing students with special platforms to promote their ideas.
Dr. Christian Plenge: ProWein, for example, regularly cooperates with Hochschule Geisenheim on the ProWein Business Report, which is the market barometer of the international wine industry. At EuroShop 2023 students of Retail Design at HSD brought a new exhibition stand concept to life thanks to a blend of conference and gaming. And at glasstec mock-ups and innovative glass structures engineered at the Technical Universities of Darmstadt, Dortmund, Delft and Dresden never cease to amaze visitors at the “glass technology live” special show.