Born on 5 May 1807 in Ölbronn in Baden-Wurttemberg, Ferdinand von Steinbeis is considered the founding father of the modern economic powerhouse of Wurttemberg. With his commitment to promoting industry and trade, the region developed into a modern hub of industry. Industrialization and education were two sides of the same coin for Steinbeis, leading him to dedicate himself to commercial and professional education.
Ferdinand von Steinbeis was appointed as Royal Wurttemberg State Councillor in 1848 and was in charge of the Central Office for Trade and Industry. He founded several trade schools and was committed to finding and promoting promising young talent, including the later inventor of the motorcar, Gottlieb Daimler.
Steinbeis was a member of the Wurttemberg Diet between 1862 and 1868. In 1878, he protested against the protectionist policies of Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to no avail. He resigned from his governmental posts in 1880.
Ferdinand von Steinbeis died on 7 February 1873 in Leipzig and was buried with honours on the Old Cemetery of Ulm, his adopted home. The Steinbeis Foundation, several universities, and many schools and places of occupational education, in particular in Baden-Württemberg, are named in his honour.