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Being innovative means being creative

We talk to Udo Brändle about his new role as IMC Krems CEO responsible for research and innovation, and about his vision for the university through to 2025 and beyond.

(c) Skokanitsch Fotografie; IMC Krems has an additional CEO who will focus on research and innovation, as well as a new strategy for the next three years.

Following your appointment in summer 2022, IMC Krems now has an additional CEO who will focus on research and innovation, as well as a new strategy for the next three years.  Is this strategy radically different, or will some underlying principles remain the same?

Genuine improvements are the result of cooperation and mutual appreciation between students, lecturers, researchers, university staff and partners. We have involved our stakeholders in the creation of the strategy, using a variety of approaches. The central tenets of our values are still the same: “International. Innovative. IMC Krems.”. Our strong international focus is clear to see in our accreditations, the level of participation of our academics in the scientific community, and our collaboration with universities, research institutes and companies all over the world. We want to inspire our students to gain international experience, and attract students and lecturers from abroad to our various locations. We have a reputation as an innovative pioneer in our core subject areas of business, digitalisation and engineering, health, and life sciences. This isn’t something we take for granted and we’re always striving to improve as a learning team. We have set ourselves 17 tangible, measurable goals in the categories of education, research and organisation. There will be a continual focus on some of the future-oriented topics, as we certainly won’t be able to tick them off by 2025 – future skills, for instance, which is all about the tools that graduates will need to achieve success in the future. We do have a strategy, but we don’t have a crystal ball.

What must modern universities adapt to at all costs?

Artificial intelligence is changing everyday life, work and communications. We have aligned our activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Link: www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals) and we place a particular emphasis on producing scientific findings with the greatest possible impact. Our work is characterised by our specialist skills and knowledge, strong sense of responsibility, and outstanding levels of motivation, while maintaining high ethical and academic standards. There is no place for dogma here. But there certainty is for diversity, which is part and parcel of our culture of work-life balance, inclusivity, openness, trust and mutual respect that enables us to learn, create and inspire.In research, we aim to support interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral collaboration. We design our degree programmes and university services to be attractive to students and users, applying our experience gained from distance learning, and we place an emphasis on entrepreneurship. 

You came to IMC Krems from Dubai Business School, where you were Dean. What did you take from your time there?

Research and innovation are, in my view, key to overcoming the challenges we face going forward. From Dubai I’ve brought the mindset of wanting to be years ahead of other cities (Link dubai10x.ae) and achieving this by deviating from the well trodden path. We want to be out in front of other universities. So we have to be innovative and concentrate on our practically-focused research and teaching. 

Collaboration between academia and arts and culture is keenly fostered in the town of Krems. What do you think about this?

In the Renaissance, the German word for art – ‘Kunst’  – described the result of a creative process. For me, being innovative is a creative process, too. Academic endeavour is the attempt to eliminate uncertainty and provide clarity.  Artists stimulate this clarity. We live in a world of multidimensional challenges. A world where science is being pushed to its limits and art, through its openness, provides security among this complexity. Krems does this very well.

About Udo Brändle

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Udo Brändle grew up in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg. He has a PhD in international business administration from the University of Vienna and a master degree in business law from Saarland University in Germany. During his career he has gained experience in both the university and non-university sectors. He has spent extended periods abroad at the University of Manchester in the UK and in the United Arab Emirates. Udo Brändle joins IMC Krems from Dubai Business School at the University of Dubai, where he was Dean. 

Interview: Astrid Kuffner

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