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LIFE VALLEY ( English version!)

Strasbourg, May 16, 2018









A project by Alexis Lehmann


Project History

More than 2000 years ago, at the times of the Celts, the Upper Rhine Valley had already been considered as the “Valley of wellness”.

The druids acted as medical healers. They were attentive observers of nature, fascinated by the life cycle of plants which happened to die… just to come back to life every spring.

Especially the mistletoe fascinated them. A plant growing in winter, above the earth, on a tree… the most sacred tree of all – the oak.

If in France, people still respect the tradition and embrace under the mistletoe, they still do it to ward off ill fortune.

Later, the Roman author Plinius the Older called the mistletoe “herb of life”. Today, we know that the mistletoe is the richest plant in terms of DNA containing more than 600 protein substances. If the berries are toxic, the leaves offer antispasmodic and antihaemorrhagic virtues which had already been known and used in the early days.


The Romans celebrated not only the virtues of plants, but also of the thermal sources. Meditrina was the Goddess of doctors and pharmacists who dispatched well-being via the different waters. Everywhere in the Upper Rhine area, numerous thermal sources are still in operation on both banks of the Rhine river between Baden in Switzerland and Baden-Baden in the “Baden” region (“baden” means “bath”…) and this chain of thermal sources stretches until the geyser of Andernach (close to Coblence), where the healing waters still run at a temperature of more than 74° C.

In 1100, Hildegarde of Bingen, located a bit upstream the Rhine river, became famous by setting up a network of house pharmacies, the “Hausapotheke” which developed all along the Rhine river.

In the 16th century, the famous “Humanists of the Rhine Valley” did not only cope with philosophical matters and the well-being of the soul, but they also cared for physical wellness. Since there were no universities and research laboratories, they organized a network of domestic “healers” who knew the virtues of medical plants which the administered to suffering people.


Some of their cabinets were even able to carry out surgery. The barbers-surgeons of the Rhine Valley were famous for a long time.

So, from century to century, in spite of the epidemics, wars and conflicts, this valley has always continued to search for a better and longer life, based on a rich fauna and outstanding intellectual capacities.



At the origins of all the theme based « valleys » which emerge all over the world, there is always a university cluster which cooperates with the economic environment. If these clusters are not necessarily structured, they are nevertheless very efficient. Strasbourg is proud to host the “European Campus”, an extraordinary and worldwide unique source of knowledge with five Nobel Price Award winners, amongst which the Nobel Price Awards for Chemistry, Medicine and Pharmacy. This territory of top excellence in the field of life sciences is home for 15 000 teachers-researchers, 11000 graduate students, and some 115 000 students in the Upper Rhine Valley.

The economic activities which have developed around this specific topic cover numerous fields, including molecular genetics and cell biology, but also immunology, transplantations, implantations and prosthesis of all kinds. Thanks to a the advanced medical imagery and robotized surgery based on Artificial Intelligence, our medical care system and research have made a leap into future: hospitals, clusters, public and private laboratories, research centers etc.… have experienced a spectacular growth. This is why the Life Science industry has become, behind the agriculture and vine growing industries, the steel industry, the chemical industrie and the food industry, the first industrical sector in the Upper Rhine Valley!

Almost 1000 companies operate here in an environment which represents 40% of the worldwide merdical research activities and offers the most important concentration of pharmaceutical industrial companies in the world. Already today, the Life and Health industry is the first employer of the Valley.



This wonderful reality wich opens the way to a bright future is almost unknown even to the people who live here. I consider it being determinating to change the currently used pure geographical designation, which doen not mean much to the world such as « Rhin Supérieur », « Oberrhein », « Upper Rhine valley », or too administrative designations like « Région Métropolitaine Trinationale du Rhin Supérieur » into LIFE VALLEY(1),, a theme based territorial brand, which is more attractive, more modern and more expressive than the historical and prospective positionning.




The change of the name of the Upper Rhine into LIFE VALLEY actuellay refers to life in a much broader sense than just the biological aspect. It refers to the cycle of life, birth, growth, maturity, decline, govern every organism, human or not.

Thus, we need to move towards another « Weltanschauung », another way to consider life, remembering first that almost 70 % of premature deaths are due to our own behavior (alcohol, tobacco, not enough physical activity...), in spite of all progress made by medicine and science! The part of responsability to be blamed on the bad quality of our environment, could not be expressed in figures so far (a specific project and an epidemiological study should be launched with this objective).

The economical and energy transitions to come are known to pursue these goals. These projects, conducted by the public authorities, should be officialized, planned and known to everybody.



To progress successfully, the vincity and our interdependence in the Upper Rhine territory calls for common projects in order to garantuee their efficiency.

To assure a sustainable development, to better fight sickness, pollutions of all kinds, increase life expectation and quality – those are the human challenges at the beginning of this century! The sociologist Edgard MORIN has put the issue as follows – at the beginning of the 21st century, mankind has to chose: “Or humans continue to pollute, to detoriate the air, the earth and the water rendering life on earth impossible in the long run, with more and more periods of climate catastrophies, hunger, sickness and wars... or humans wake up and try to refocus on the objective of a sustainable human being living in a sane environment.”

Such an ambition does not only concern scientists and researchers.

The population of 6 million living here, breathe all the same air, drink the same water and eat the products coming from the same soils. The all contribute every single day, in a positive or negative manner, to this ambition. Nobody could claim not to be concerned.



Whatever products or services offered for consumption, equipement or services, material or immaterial, every product or service should integrate the “life obligation” in the analysis of the value of their production. Everybody must adapt – Primaty, secondary, third and fourth sectors of économy!

Nobody can express in numbers the return in terms human attractivity and capitals, as it is impossible to determine le return in terms of quality of life, buying power or employment of such a strategic choice. To have an idea: The magazine « Industry and Tags de San José » (California) has recently indicated that the richness of SILICON VALLEY has grown between 2000 and 2015 twice as fast as in the rest of the United States…



The launch of the brand LIFE VALLEY deserves the support and a strong committment by the political authorities of the three concerned courntries.

Erasmus of ROTTERDAM dreamed of “uniting the countries of Europe because they share the same Christian belief”. We can not claim any longer as he and the Humanists of the 16th century did, to build a community of thoughts around the same religion. However, here, in the heart of the European spirit, we can give birth to a philosophy, a renewed belief in the future of mankind on his earth, an existence to be recognized as the supreme value compatible with all religions.

The Charta of Human Rights, with STRASBOURG being its capital, stipulates that “Every individual has the right to live!”. Life is the most precious treasure of mankind.

The Upper Rhine, the LIFE VALLEY can not, given the respect of current and future generations, given that its long and blood sheding history has been overcome, miss such an opportunity, such a new consciousness. LIFE VALLEY will transform the little Rhine territory uniting Alsace, Baden county on the German bank of the Rhine, the south of German Palatinate and the north of Switzerland, into a phantastic Future Laboratory in the heart of Old Europe!


Alexis Lehmann
Vice-President of the Fondation Entente Franco-Allemande
in charge of Crossboarder Economy
1 Rue Saint Léon
F-67000 Strasbourg



(1) Life Valley : Territorial brand registered by the CCI Alsace Eurométropole

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