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Feel the pulse of Europe in Strasbourg

Jun 18, 2019
Credit : GMI Post

Located only a few hours from Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt and Munich, Strasbourg in the northeastern region of Alsace plays a large symbolic role in the post-war European project which, over several decades, has evolved into one of the world’s most successful political and economic blocs.

With a population of 35 million, Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, as well as 75 diplomatic representations and consulates.

Dubbed the Capital of Europe, the city’s metropolitan composition is strengthened by the more than 11,000 foreign students who make up over 20% of the total student population.

With four Noble Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine working within its walls, the University of Strasbourg is undisputedly the city’s leading academic and research institution. Because around one-third Alsatians are aged 25 and under, the city has nurtured a robust startup climate that attracts investors, both from France and further afield.

“We are at the heart of Europe. While we are a city full of history and culture, we also have significant strengths in technological innovation, anchored by our universities,” Eurometropolis of Strasbourg President Robert Hermann said.

By setting up five certified competitiveness clusters (life sciences and therapeutic innovation, urban vehicle innovation and mobility solutions, water quality innovation, energy efficiency, fiber-based eco-materials), Eurometropolis aims to create an ecosystem that encourages convergence and interdisciplinary collaboration, similar to that found in its sister city, Boston, Massachusetts.

“We strongly value our relationship with the city of Boston and the United States as a whole. Eli Lilly, for instance, continues to massively invest here with its largest manufacturing site in nearby Fegersheim. We have many other American companies located here as well and that number is growing,” Hermann said.

Drawing inspiration from Boston, Strasbourg announced an ambitious project to transform 1.5 hectares in its city center into a techno park called NextMed, which aims to create even more opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and strengthen the city’s reputation as an incubator of global innovation.

Located just a few steps away from NextMed is Research Institute Against Digestive Cancer (IRCAD France), a world-renowned pioneer in less invasive surgical techniques. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, IRCAD allows surgeons from anywhere in the world to obtain high-level surgical training.

“We have gone to great lengths to create a collaborative environment within our city as we offer the foundational elements that can generate the kind of globally game-changing innovation we want to be known for,” Eurometropolis of Strasbourg Vice President Catherine Trautmann, a former member of the European Parliament and a long-time advocate of innovation and entrepreneurship.

France 2019 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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