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  Wirtschaftsjunioren concentrate design activities in Essen

Germany's largest association for young executives and entrepreneurs to co-operate with the design school zollverein Wirtschaftsjunioren 'design markets' network to set up shop in Essen

For two years now, ‘design as a value-generating tool’ has been on the agenda of the Wirtschaftsjunioren in Germany. Now, the design activities of Germany's largest association for young executives and entrepreneurs is moving into a new phase. The Wirtschaftsjunioren ‘design markets’ design management network will set up shop in the building of the recently founded design school zollverein on the grounds of the Zollverein coal mine industrial complex in Essen.

"We needed a fixed location for our activities, which to date have been co-ordinated by individual members on a project-by-project basis. Essen is sure to have huge design dynamism over the next few years. This makes it the ideal environment for us," explains Thorsten Westhoff, chairman of the Wirtschaftsjunioren in North Rhine-Westphalia. Since the beginning of the year, this regional branch of the association has been developing a tool box for companies that intend to take their first steps in strategic design

"As a result of the generation change, an important strategic window for more design orientation will open up in German companies over the coming years," adds Jörg Heithoff, spokesman for design markets. The team is getting ready for a long haul: "Wirtschaftsjunioren projects usually run for a maximum two years. We have done a lot over the past 24 months. However, if we really want to get things moving, we will have to stick with this for a long time," says team member Konstantin Slawinski.

The plan is to organise joint events with the design school zollverein in the first three months of 2003. "The interest of the Wirtschaftsjunioren shows that the design school zollverein is on the right track with its concept. This co-operation opens up new doors to the business world," says a delighted Professor Ralph Bruder, founder and head of the d/s/z. "Training and the accumulation of expertise is one of the most important requirements when it comes to improving professional design management at executive level. A modular system of workshops and training courses, which we developed in conjunction with the design school, is an important part of the design management tool box that we want to launch," explains Wirtschaftsjunior member Thilo Weinland.

When searching for a suitable location, the young entrepreneurs also kept in mind that there is an entire world beyond the borders of North Rhine-Westphalia. "Design is aimed at international markets and is always viewed in an international context. Essen is only a stone’s throw away from exciting design cities like Cologne, Dusseldorf, Antwerp and Amsterdam. It is possible that a fascinating design cluster will develop here over the coming decade," predicts co-initiator Jörg Heithoff.
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