Photo: City of Dortmund/Roland Gorecki

Bild: Stadt Dortmund/Angela Märtin

Photo: Fraunhofer IML

About Us

Dortmund is a City of Science!

With around 54,000 students at seven universities, 19 non-university research institutes – including institutions of the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society – and more than 10,000 employees and the TechnologieZentrumDortmund as an innovation hub, Dortmund is one of the largest university and science locations in Germany. Numerous science-oriented companies, cultural institutions, libraries, museums and archives further enrich Dortmund's science landscape. Our motto is: "One City. Lots of knowledge".

Dortmund is an attractive, future-oriented and internationally oriented university and science location where socially relevant topics are being researched. This is demonstrated in particular by the seven scientific fields of competence in which Dortmund's research strengths are bundled and scientists work together across institutions.

Science and urban society benefit from each other

Science finds very good framework conditions in Dortmund. The people in the city benefit from the innovative impulses. Scientific findings are incorporated into urban development, culture and business, while impulses from the city, culture and business flow into science. In this way, science is part of urban society - and urban society is part of science.

Since 2011, science, business, urban society, culture, politics and administration have been working together to raise Dortmund's profile as a ‘City of Science’. With the ‘Science Master Plan 2.0’, the participating institutions are now presenting a further development of their strategic cooperation.

One result of the Science Masterplan is the Dortmund Science Conference. Previous results are presented and discussed here. Four science conferences with different focal points have been held since 2014. In June 2023, the event was held at the Dortmunder U. The main topic was Energy.

Photo: Lutz Kampert, Dortmund

"The Science Master Plan 2.0 opens up the previous process to the urban society and to the Westphalian economic region. With the megatopic of artificial intelligence, the ‘Experimental City’, the further development of the Fachhochschule Dortmund - University of Applied Sciences and Arts and many other new topics, Dortmund is strenghthning its position as a science city, a technology and education location and open space for good new ideas. Dortmund lets knowledge grow – we send this message to our friends and neighbours in Dortmund, the region, in Germany and Europe."

Thomas Westphal, Lord Mayor of the City of Dortmund


In 2019, the project consortium was commissioned by the City Council to further develop the Science Master Plan. Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Herbert Waldmann, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology and Professor at TU Dortmund University, has been accompanying and moderating the new master plan process on an honorary basis.

In the Science Master Plan 2.0, a large number of stakeholders are working in a collaborative process to raise Dortmund's profile as a city of science - the Master Plan is the strategic instrument of this collaboration.

Building on the successful Science Master Plan 1.0, the Science Master Plan 2.0 pursues the following content-related goals:

  • Further development of Dortmund as a city of science
  • Expansion of scientific excellence and networking
  • Strengthening innovation as a science and business location
  • Venturing new ways of cooperation in the ‘Experimental City’

In 2020, more than 200 participants developed innovative approaches and project ideas in four focus groups. The Science Master Plan is integrated into municipal, regional and international networks in a variety of ways. The contributions were bundled via the spokespersons of the focus groups, the master plan representative and the coordination office. On May 20, 2021, the City Council of Dortmund unanimously adopted the Science Master Plan 2.0.

Lord Mayor Thomas Westphal, press conference of the administrative board on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, on the "Science Master Plan 2.0" (Source: YouTube)

Photo: TU Dortmund/Roland Baege 

"The Science Master Plan is a very broad-based participation process that demonstrates the relevance of science for Dortmund, promotes good framework conditions and also advances the city's competitiveness. It is not only about excellent research and teaching, but also about how we make scientific findings accessible to a broad public, stimulate discussions, arouse curiosity and initiate processes that improve our lives and revitalize our economy."

– Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Herbert Waldmann

The process is being accompanied by a board of trustees (Kuratorium) and the ‘Science Dialogue’ (Wissenschaftsdialog) as a strategy group. The coordinating office of the Science Master Plan is anchored in the Science & Talent Department of the City of Dortmund. Four focus groups with different thematic focal points have been set up, which are derived from the above-mentioned content-related goals and are interlinked.

The Science Master Plan 2.0 is an agile process that enables a flexible response to new developments and dynamics. The participants in the focus groups are continuously working together in order to develop new projects and implement ideas. The Master Plan process is transparent and is monitored at various levels. Facts and figures are regularly presented in a science monitoring system. At the end of the process, the process will be assessed by an external evaluation.

Organisational Structure

Review – how it all started

Science Master Plan 1.0

From 2011 to 2013, the first Science Master Plan was developed in a process supported by science, business, culture, politics, civil society and administration. In June 2013, the City Council of Dortmund adopted the Master Plan. The joint implementation pursued the goal of positioning Dortmund more strongly as a science city. In the six fields of action, 100 measures were formulated, a good three quarters of which had been implemented by the time of the evaluation (2018).

Die Umsetzung wurde durch den Lenkungskreis und den Wissenschaftsdialog mit den beteiligten Akteur*innen, dem Beauftragten des Masterplans Wissenschaft 1.0 (Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Böling) und durch ein gemeinsames Controlling begleitet.

Photo: City of Dortmund

"For me, the decisive factor in social innovations has always been that not only structures are changed. Social innovations only have a lasting effect if something is changed in people's minds. That has happened with and through the Master Plan in Dortmund.".“

– Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Böling

Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Böling, who accompanied and moderated the process from 2013 to 2020 as master plan commissioner, was awarded the honorary pin of the City of Dortmund in October 2020 for his extraordinary commitment to the City of Science Dortmund.

In 2018, the Science Master Plan 1.0 was evaluated in detail by an independent commission of experts (evaluation report) and further development was recommended. The chairman of the expert commission, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Manfred Prenzel, summed up the overall assessment with the German school grade "very good" (A) and "quite unique in Germany".

"This is a pretty special process that the city has initiated: A local government, together with the management of the local science institutions, defines joint development goals for the city and research. More than 100 stakeholders from science, the community, business and culture have developed a joint programme for science, which was adopted by the city council in July 2013. From the outset, there was monitoring to measure implementation in the various fields of action and thus establish a general commitment. This is quite unique in Germany."

– Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Manfred Prenzel

Networks on various levels

Municipal Networks - The Dortmund Model of Innovation Platforms and Participation Culture

With the "Dortmund Model", the city of Dortmund has built up a well-functioning innovation model in recent years, consisting of four innovation platforms – the Smart City Alliance, the Science Master Plan, the TechnologieZentrumDortmund and the "northwards" initiative. The model is based on close-knit network structures, a broad-based communication culture, dialogue and consensus orientation as well as cooperation between these innovation platforms. The platforms complement each other and interlock. Through these platforms, people from different status groups – civil society, science, business, culture and politics – are being brought together to address the challenges of the city in dialogue. Time and again, innovative projects and approaches emerge from this cooperation that promote Dortmund's development.

windo e.V.

Through the network of science and research institutions – windo e.V. – there has been close cooperation at the local level since 1992. The network is dedicated in particular to internal networking among its members and to the transfer of scientific findings to society and industry. This cooperation has resulted in several joint working groups and events – most notably the traditional Dortmund Science Day, which invites citizens to participate in exciting experiments, lectures and hands-on activities.

Regional Networks 

Ruhr region

With five universities, 16 universities of applied sciences and two colleges of music, the Ruhr region has the densest higher education landscape in Europe with over 200,000 students. Dortmund is part of this science and university landscape and is linked with it in many ways:

The University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr)

The three universities in the Ruhr region – TU Dortmund University, the Ruhr University of Bochum and the University of Duisburg-Essen – have been working together in the UA Ruhr since 2007. In total, more than 120,000 students study at the three universities, and around 1,300 professors conduct research here. The UA Ruhr operates liaison offices in New York and Moscow.

Contact Office of the UA-Ruhr in New York 

Photo: UA Ruhr/Peter Rosenbaum


Further network partners
  • Research and innovation partnership ‘ruhrvalley’ – Transfer-oriented network of universities of applied sciences and business partners in the Ruhr region
  • Steering group ‘Wissensmetropole Ruhr/RVR’ – Exchange platform for scientific institutions in the Ruhr region
  • RuhrFutur – educational initiative supported by the Mercator Foundation, the RVR, six cities and seven universities
  • TalentMetropole Ruhr – Network that promotes young people in the Ruhr region along the education chain, from daycare to choosing a career
  • WissensNacht Ruhr – A science event for the whole family in the Ruhr region
  • Wissenschaftsforum Ruhr e.V. – Science Forum Ruhr


The Westphalian science and business region is also of central importance in terms of regional cooperation. The Westphalian connection plays a role in the Science Master Plan 2.0, particularly in focus group 3 / ‘Knowledge Economy’. Since Dortmund and South Westphalia complement each other in many ways, networking is beeing intensified.

International networks 

Dortmund is an international and diverse city: People from over 180 nations live in Dortmund, the mix of cultures and the sharing of different experiences and perspectives is coining and enriching our daily lives. As an internationally oriented city, Dortmund maintains worldwide contacts through the Office for International Relations; especially through nine partner cities, but also through project partnerships with municipalities and active participation in international networks.

For Dortmund’s scientific institutions, internationality has long since become a matter of course, integrating international approaches in research projects and conferences and promoting study and research exchanges. At the municipal level, the topic of science will be integrated in particular into the city-wide internationalization strategy and international networking will be further strengthened.


Photo: Pixabay