Organisation role: 
National STEM platform
Organisation type: 
Non-governmental organisation (NGO)

Zukunft durch Innovation (ZDI) is the regional STEM platform in the North Rhine-Westfalia, a state in the west of Germany with a total population of 18 million people that shares a direct border with the Netherlands. ZDI is backed at regional level by three ministries (Science, Education, Economic Affairs), with the Ministry of Science holding overall responsibility. The ZDI Central Office is a source of advice and assistance for the networks and school laboratories and coordinates the allocation of funding. The objectives are:


  • To inspire more young people to undertake a university course or vocational training in a STEM discipline
  • To ensure the sufficient availability of STEM professionals at regional level
  • To introduce young people to socially relevant topics at an early stage, such as conservation of resources, climate change, energy supply and the fight against poverty


These objectives are implemented through ZDI networks. A ZDI Network – also referred to as a ZDI Centre – is a regional bundling of players from politics, schools, universities, enterprises and other partners involved in education who wish to foster young people’s skills in STEM fields. Each ZDI Network is different. Some are run by school administrators, others by economic development bodies, universities, associations or foundations. But they all have one thing in common: They focus on the concrete requirements of their own specific region.


The regional ZDI Networks function as central contact points: they are the first port of call for teachers who want to give their STEM lessons a more practical focus and seek contacts to universities and enterprises. They also coordinate the involvement of firms and businesses and streamline higher education and career guidance measures in cooperation with enterprises, universities and employment agencies. Through broad-based practical work in the partner companies, young people can establish initial contacts to local firms and get to know different tasks and job profiles in the framework of projects and courses.