Innovation is the key to economic development in the region. Adaptation of economic structures to the requirements of globalisation, the growing competition arise new requirements to the flexibility and ability for innovation within an enterprise. The development of tight regional cooperation of enterprises and good contacts with universities, high schools and institutes are an important precondition. A tight network of economy and science gets more and more to an important regional factor that finally provides local and regional synergy effects. These effects will not only lead to cost savings but to innovative processes, too, which have a stimulus to the development of local and regional enterprises. These cooperation should be useful to all involved persons and parties. These processes will be successful in the long term, if all participants create tight structures, show continuity and have necessary patience over a longer period. In recent years, tight cooperation between local enterprises, the universities in Jena and Ilmenau, and the Thuringian Institute for Textile and Plastics Research have developed.
Several enterprises in Rudolstadt are involved in different projects that have positive effects on economical development in the region. The dairy Herzgut in Rudolstadt-Schwarza, which belongs to the cluster Nutrition Science of Central Germany, was awarded the Innovation Prize 2008 for their yoghurt „omeghurt“. Innovation and cooperation, as key to competition, are also important to chemical enterprises, plastics industry and manufacturers of textile fibres that are traditionally based in Rudolstadt. The research association Materials from Renewable Recourses, the association Polymermat e.V. and the project Innovative Regional Growth Core ALCERU-High-Tech Cellulose Rudolstadt are the basis of economically orientated institutes of research and development and technology transfer.