Tradition and future of science and research

"If you set out to come here, take your time"

About the tradition and future of science and research in Obergurgl

Published 04.10.2021

Both science and research have a long tradition in Gurgl. In 1951 the Federal Sports Center and the Alpine Research Center Obergurgl were founded in the former customhouses on the outskirts of the village. After the University of Innsbruck took it over, the listed building complex was completely renovated and the Obergurgl University Center was founded. It soon developed into a refuge for scientists and researchers, which also accommodated Nobel Prize winners such as Sir John Walker (physics) and Sir Andre Konstantin Geim (chemistry). Thanks to the newly built Gurgl Carat conference center, this tradition is now being continued and further developed in a forward-looking manner.

"You can do almost everything at Gurgl Carat. Our task is to promote science,” explains Günter Scheide from the Science-Business-Society transfer office at the University of Innsbruck, which is an important partner in the operating company of the conference center. The aim of such a transfer office is to bring research topics into society and to make their effects on daily life visible.

A great example of this is the exhibition "Ice - a transitory good", which took place at Gurgl Carat in August. "We want to underline how wonderful ice can be, but also how passing. Our research makes it clear that ice is a very sensitive habitat in the Alps for which we are all responsible," says Birgit Sattler. The ecologist from the University of Innsbruck presented together with Klemens Weisleitner, polar microecologist from the University of Innsbruck, photographs and other exhibits that were taken on polar and Alpine expeditions.

Günter Scheide - presentation

Günter Scheide presents the exhibition on "Ice – A transitory good" at Gurgl Carat

"The main aim was to stimulate mind and thoughts, to become aware that our glaciers are melting away and how problematic it is. The exhibition was based on both an artistic and a scientific interest. It was not shown by chance at Gurgl Carat, but it reflects exactly the objective that we pursue: a combination of art and science in order to sharpen our unique USP,” Scheide states.


The geographer sees himself as an initiator of a promising regional development in terms of spaces and potentials. In addition to spotting the peculiarities, it is also a matter of locating and reinterpreting alleged disadvantages. According to Scheide, there is a tendency that Gurgl's location at the rear end of the valley is interpreted as “far away” when it comes to travel routes. However, it can easily be turned into an advantage by motivating conference and seminar guests as well as researchers to stay a whole week instead of just a few days.

"The message is: if you set out to come here, take your time. Wind down a bit and take advantage of the opportunities this Alpine space has to offer,” explains Scheide.

He also brings to mind a tradition that was common in Gurgl. "In the past, researchers stayed here for at least a week. When the archaeological excavations were still going on, the scientists stayed even all summer long," reports the director of the Obergurgl University Center, Alexander Zainzinger. According to his observations, increasing mobility and pressure to produce quick results also have an impact on universities: the length of stay has generally become shorter. But there are still research teams who benefit from the topographical location and the remoteness of the village in order to spend several weeks in Gurgl.

“If it's just about listening to lectures, you can also stay in town. But if the main aim is to promote scientific exchange, then Obergurgl makes an ideal place. Here with us, people are together from morning to night, they can hold meetings in the outdoors and use the evening for discussions. The organizers really appreciate that,” Zainzinger says.

Alexander Zainzinger

Alexander Zainzinger manages the University Center in Obergurgl

Alexander Zainzinger

In addition to seminar rooms for up to 120 people, the Obergurgl University Center offers 43 guest rooms. Only 5 minutes away from the village center, it can be found right next to the UNESCO Biosphere Park and its enchanting stone pine forest. Be it hiking or skiing, everything starts right on the building's doorstep.

“We offer a great blend of hut flair and modern conference center. Our building embodies tradition, which is now being further developed at Gurgl Carat on the way to a promising future," summarizes Zainzinger.

It is this special symbiosis of history and modernity, of research tradition and future-oriented thinking and, last but not least, the location at the rear end of the valley amidst the majestic Ötztal Alps, which makes the "Diamonds of the Alps" - as Gurgl is referred to - a very special destination for conferences and congresses as well as for science and specific research. It is quite possible that this Alpine area also forms the breeding ground for new connections in the field of art and culture initiatives.



Author

Sigrid Neureiter

Sigrid Neureiter is both founder and owner of Dr. Neureiter PR Agency based in Vienna. Tirolean by heart and very committed to the MICE sector, Tirol as a conference region is a particular concern of Sigrid Neureiter. Together with her expert team and Gurgl Carat, she is responsible for editorial planning and implementation of the Carat.Blog. "Conferences held at Gurgl Carat stand for inspiration, foresight, tranquility in a truly incomparable ambience of the unique Alpine scenery. I am therefore very happy that I can contribute to bringing the advantages of Europe's highest conference center and its unique surroundings closer to customers."

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