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10th Campus Symposium has successfully launched into a new era

The change is perfect: the first Campus Symposium under the lead of Christoph Neumann was a complete success. "It was important for us to maintain the event's established reputation, but also to set new accents," says Neumann. He and his team had set themselves the goal of focusing on the topic of digitisation and stimulating important impulses for the region. "We see ourselves as a service provider for South Westphalia that addresses future issues and brings the right people together - and this certainly includes prominent faces, but in the end we want our guests to go home with new ideas.

To this end, the team had set up a comprehensive programme to shed light on and discuss various aspects of digitisation: the former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso made a passionate plea for European cohesion. Only with joining forces one could assert oneself on the international stage. Dorothee Bär, the Minister of State for Digitisation, demanded more commitment from society: there was no reason why the industrial nation Germany could not also become a digital nation. It needs openness, then there is a great opportunity in change, which opens up new opportunities for rural areas in particular. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economics of North Rhine Westphalia, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy, saw the South Westphalia region in a good starting position - medium-sized businesses in particular needed to seize the opportunity to implement their own know-how in digital business models in order to extend their own lead in areas such as automation and artificial intelligence.

Pinkwart referred to the openness of the people in Estonia; the small Baltic state has developed into a pioneering nation in digital administration. According to the Estonian ambassador Mart Laanemäe, who presented the concept, people have fewer reservations about digitalisation; this is also because the state gives its citizens control over their data and their use at all times.

In individual discussion rounds, experts from business, politics and society discussed the requirements of digital business models, ventured a look into the future of the media, explained what protection digital infrastructures need and discussed the requirements for the mobility of the future, a topic which, in view of the planned test track for autonomous driving, also has a very definite regional reference. Bernd Reichelt, Managing Director of Stadtwerke Menden, presented the project that he is developing together with Stadtwerke Arnsberg and partners from the local industry: "We have been involved with several companies since January and we would like there to be discussion, just like today. But such discussions should not only take place in conurbations, large cities and hotspots, but also in rural regions like here," says Reichelt.

In addition to the lectures and discussions in the large lecture tent, the Campus Symposium also offered space for workshops that the team had set up together with experts: not only did it deal with tangible digital topics such as the question of binding and open digital standards (Screwerk GmbH) or the development towards Factory 4.0 (Karon Beratungsgesellschaft, Kuka AG), but also with their economic effects on transatlantic economic relations and the change in work and corporate and management structures.

In its own workshop, the CS team addressed the issue of skills shortages. "In order to remain innovative, we have to get young people enthusiastic about us so that they stay with us after their training or after their studies. They not only bring their manpower, but also new insights and new thinking into the companies," explains Christoph Neumann. Many companies have already become active with their own initiatives. "It is now a question of bundling the efforts of individuals and bringing further partners on board in order to reach as many young people as possible in a joint campaign. That's exactly what we want to initiate in our workshop and expand further in the coming months". At the end of the workshop, 12 of the companies present signed a joint declaration of intent in which they declared their willingness to participate in the initiative that had emerged under the umbrella of the Campus Symposium.

All in all, Neumann draws a positive conclusion after the two-day event: "We can be very proud. The team worked hard for the success of the Campus Symposium and spent many a night in front of their ears. The goal of putting the spotlight on the topic in particular had been achieved. "There was great interest in all lectures and discussions," says Neumann, "and the workshops were also well attended. We received great praise throughout. According to Neumann, the team had fully achieved the goal of the event: "We hit the nerve of the people in our region. That's why we want to continue - not at the next Campus Symposium in two years' time, but this year. We already have big plans".