Group of Students

Across state borders

Why researchers are solving regional issues at an international level

Research projects with international partners are a permanent feature at Harz University of Applied Sciences. This boosts third-party funding, i.e. additional income, which serves as a key indicator of a university’s scientific performance. However, what inspires institutions to look across state borders in order to solve regional problems?

FARM, KiNESIS, ERASMI – these abbreviations represent some of Harz University of Applied Sciences’ latest research projects. Prof. Hardy Pundt is running the FARM project with university partners from North Macedonia, Spain, Cyprus and Lithuania. “It is about agricultural issues relating to climate change”, the Professor of Geographical Information and Database Systems explains. The first stage of research was undertaken in conjunction with his national and international colleagues: “Farmers across Europe already use more than 150 different digital systems that are specifically deployed to help with decision-making.” For example, these might relate to better ways to respond to water shortages or soil erosion. There are now also various solutions using information and communication technologies to enable more efficient use of fertiliser.

Added value for the economy, society and students

The research will be made available to the general public as a key decision-making tool for farmers and farming advisors. In addition, there are plans for a prototype digital system to focus on agricultural issues that have not yet been resolved. “Having numerous experts on board of course means that we can achieve better, more sustainable results”, is Prof. Hardy Pundt’s assessment of the outcomes of projects with international partners. He also sees another key impact in terms of attractiveness to students: “Virtually every project offers an opportunity for student assistants to get involved. For students, this provides exciting experience that they can then also include on their CV.”

From project partner to expert

The researchers working on projects have two or three years to present their results. The KiNESIS project is about offering new prospects for disconnected, declining regions. The abbreviation ERASMI represents Harz University of Applied Sciences’ commitment to the topic of refugee management. It is an excellent example of how the university has also established itself in the long term as an expert on an international scale: since 2017, researchers from the Faculty of Administrative Sciences have been supporting the work of key players in integration from all over Europe.

Part of a global research effort

Prof. Georg Westermann, Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer, summarises the added value of international research projects: “These collaborations allow us to play an active role in global research. This enhances our reputation as a research site and also prompts a flow of knowledge into the region. Furthermore, it is another building block of an international campus.” The project is being funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme.

FARM (Fostering Agriculture Rural Development and Land Management)

KiNESIS (KNowledgE alliance for Social Innovation in Shrinking villages)

ERASMI (Empowering Regional Actors & Stakeholders for Migrant and Refugee Inclusion)

Author: Claudia Aldinger
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