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The Berlin University Alliance (BUA) accepts the Next Grand Challenge and is calling on researchers and students from its partner institutions to propose topics of a high scientific and social relevance. The BUA is the consortium consisting of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. With its proposal "Crossing Boundaries toward an Integrated Research Environment", the Berlin University Alliance has been successful in the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments. Together, we have set ourselves the goal of finding answers to the global issues of the 21st century.
With the Next Grand Challenge, we are choosing a novel path and searching for the topic to be explored in a new research project in a participatory process with society. For this, scholars and scientists of the BUA partner institutions will research and develop interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches.

The topic will be identified with an open approach in a participatory process involving students and young people. This is an absolute novelty in the German research environment. We are seeking to identify topics from the existing research priorities as well as from emerging and new fields of research.

The cooperation is divided into four phases: Topic collection, topic grouping, topic evaluation, and topic selection. This entire process is transparent and can be watched online.

Important dates

  • Information and Networking Lunch
    17 October 2022
  • Topic submission: July 4th - October 31st 2022
  • Next Grand Challenge Forum – Joint discussion of the topic fields: February 2023
  • Last open digital office hours: Thu October 20th 2022 from 2-4 pm

How can I participate in the topic identification for the Next Grand Challenge?

All researchers and students of the four BUA partner institutions (Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) are invited to participate in the topic identification process and to propose a topic.

Participation is subject to the following conditions:

  1. Participation takes place in teams. These must consist of at least five participants from the BUA institutions (Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin).
    Other researchers from research institutions in Berlin not affiliated with academia (e.g. BR 50), as well as from the strategic partners of the Berlin University Alliance (University of Oxford, National University of Singapore, University of Melbourne) can also be integrated into the teams. Researchers and students from other Berlin higher education institutions can also be integrated. However, this is not a prerequisite for participation.

  2. Each team must include participants from at least two different disciplines.

  3. The teams can consist either only of researchers or only of students, or of participants of both status groups.

  4. Each participant may only be part of one team.

  5. One participant per team must submit the topic and provide contact details and other information (status group, institution, discipline) of the other team members. Click HERE to submit your topic.

  6. The topic for the Next Grand Challenge should, as far as possible, meet the following criteria of a grand challenge:
      • Societal Relevance:
        A grand challenge is a complex global challenge of high current and future scientific and societal relevance, for the solution of which innovative inter- and transdisciplinary approaches are required.
      • Science Excellence:
        A research field that addresses a grand challenge equally addresses an epistemic interest and is compatible with excellent, international research.
      • Berlin Expertise:
        A grand challenge can harness the special competencies or particular potentials of the scientific stakeholders in Berlin, as well as of those stakeholders not affiliated with academia.


Dr. Jeanette Schlief, Program Manager Next Grand Challenge

Dr. Claudia Wiedner, Head of the Office for the Grand Challenge Initiatives