Strong in research together
A year of excellence funding for Berlin University Alliance
News from Nov 19, 2020
On the first anniversary of the excellence alliance, the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) presented what it has achieved during the first year of funding. The objective of the alliance – consisting of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin – is to create an integrated research environment across institutional boundaries.
“I find it remarkable that so many researchers have already joined forces in the first year of the excellence alliance with the aim of getting things moving and having an impact. Even the corona pandemic hasn’t slowed us down. In total over 560 researchers in over 130 joint research projects financed through the BUA have already partnered up. Furthermore, we also witnessed the completion of the legislative process for the collaboration platform in the first year of funding. That's unparalleled!”, explains Prof. Dr. Günter M. Ziegler, president of Freie Universität Berlin and until mid-November 2020 spokesperson of the Berlin University Alliance.
Under the headline of “Grand Challenge Initiatives”, the alliance managed to get 55 projects off the ground. These were allocated funding of 540,000 euros in total under the pre-call “Social Cohesion”. 1.8 million euros has been earmarked for a coronavirus “pre-exploration project”. In a special call for collecting data on the pandemic, 900,000 euros of funding has been allocated to 12 projects. Research on social cohesion has been intensified since October 2020 to include six “Exploration Projects” with funding of 7.1 million euros granted over a period of three years. Furthermore, a new course has been set in the area of international networking between the partner institutions thanks to the projects tendered jointly with the University of Oxford, University of Melbourne, and National University of Singapore, coupled with the founding of the Centre for Advanced Studies (in August 2020) and the Berlin Center for Global Engagement (in May 2020).
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst, spokesperson of the Berlin University Alliance and president of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, emphasizes: “With our Grand Challenges we managed to get a lot of things started in the last year! We now want to focus more of our attention on the exchange between science and society. Together we want to identify, work through, and drive forward future themes that impact society and science. The aim is not only to make this a productive endeavor for society, but also for research in particular.”
By promoting a deep exchange of knowledge with society, the goal is to integrate new perspectives, outside the realm of science, into research processes. Experimental science communication laboratories provide the right framework for trying out formats for a multidirectional dialog. The dynamic knowledge transfer seeks to help identify and shape new Grand Challenge Initiatives, that is, in order to tackle social challenges of global significance together. In particular, the “Exploration Projects” for the Grand Challenge Initiatives have been created as inter and transdisciplinary research groups and thus strengthen Berlin as a hub of research.
Existing offers for researchers at all career levels are to be expanded. This includes the Berlin Graduate Studies Support Program as well as the leadership offers of the partner institutions developed within the Berlin Leadership Academy. The Berlin Recruitment Services, among others, are seeking to optimize the recruitment standards and processes with a particular focus placed on aspects such as diversity and equality.
“The social challenges have become more complex. They are no longer restricted to a local level as this has been the case for some time. We need a variety of knowledge carriers from diverse disciplines to solve these issues. The BUA is supporting this effort as well as its inter and transdisciplinary research. Here we're placing a lot of emphasis on the exchange between research and the various social actors. We’re looking to create a big community in which we can all help develop the best ideas together,” stresses Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, president of Technische Universität Berlin.
In the first Grand Challenge Initiative on “Social Cohesion”, funding is allocated to projects that examine the previously neglected interconnection of work and infrastructure in migration societies, culture, urban planning, and the nutrition system with innovative methods. The corona pandemic has shown just how interconnected the question of social cohesion is with global health, the second Grand Challenge Initiative of the excellence alliance. Exploration projects on global health are also expected to be proposed at the start of 2021.
Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Chief Executive Officer of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, continues: “The key role of health – for society, the economy, and also research – is becoming clear in a way that could scarcely have been imagined. Global health is crucial for both individual and collective stability, security, and for the future in general – worldwide. This can only be achieved if we work together.”
The Berlin University Alliance
The Berlin University Alliance is a consortium consisting of three major Berlin universities – Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin – and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, established to shape research and education in Berlin. The four partners joined forces to further develop Berlin as a research hub with international drawing power. Together the partners explore major societal challenges, increase public outreach, promote the training of junior researchers, address issues of quality and standards in research, and share resources in the areas of research infrastructure, teaching, diversity, equal opportunities, and internationalisation. The Berlin University Alliance is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Berlin under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.
Joint press release from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technischen Universität Berlin along with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Berlin University Alliance
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