Rhine-Waal’s “Smart Villages” honoured at awards ceremony
Researchers from Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences were honoured for their project “Smart Villages” at an awards ceremony on Wednesday. As part of the competition Landmarks in the Land of Ideas, the research team impressed judges with their innovative work on the issue of future growth and sustainability in rural areas in Germany.
In Grieth, a tiny village on the banks of the Lower Rhine, you’ll find many historical houses – once home to the village’s many fishermen – now empty and in disrepair. It’s a tragically common story in many rural areas of Germany, and many researchers are fighting back against these trends and breathing new life into Germany’s villages. Researchers from Rhine-Waal University are on the forefront of this effort with their project “Smart Villages”. Led by Prof. Dr -Ing. Rolf Becker, the research team worked together with Grieth’s residents to develop new concepts for the future of the village. Some examples are using online crowd-funding to fund projects like a new village shop, and organising cross-generational cooperative organisations in which residents can better support each other.
Smart Villages was honoured on Wednesday as part of the 2014 competition “Landmarks in the Land of Ideas”, which is a cooperative effort between the initiative “Germany – Land of Ideas” and Deutsche Bank. The competition distinguishes innovative ideas and projects focused on developing forward-thinking concepts for rural areas in Germany. An expert jury selected Smart Villages as one of the 100 most promising projects from a pool of 1,000 entries. Andreas Gröver, market area manager of Deutsche Bank in Krefeld, presented the award to Professor Dr. Klaus Hegemann, Professor of International Relations and Ethics, and Birgit Mosler, representative of the Smart Villages team. He also praised the research team for its creative combination of ideas from business, research and society, which epitomised the competition’s theme so well.
Commenting on the team’s success, Birgit Mosler noted that “we’re very proud to be a ‘Landmark in the Land of Ideas’ and thus do our part to help rural regions overcome the obstacles threatening them. We entered the competition because we wanted to raise awareness for our project, which helps us meet other like-minded researchers and develop new collaborative efforts committed to the same goal. This award is also an acknowledgement of the success of Rhine-Waal’s application-oriented research methods. Smart Villages is an innovative and interdisciplinary project designed to offer real solutions to the complex issues facing rural regions – solutions which rely on more than just technical innovations. Encouraging and supporting a committed base of residents allows for the development and implementation of sustainable solutions which are perfectly tailored to a rural area’s own individual problems.”
The winners of the Landmarks in the Land of Ideas competition were selected from a pool of 1,000 entries by a jury of experts from science and research, business, journalism and politics together with a six-person scientific advisory committee.