Assuring quality, instilling impetus
The Initiative and Networking Fund is one of the Helmholtz Association's key instruments in achieving its strategic goals and implementing the principles to which the association has committed itself under the Pact for Research and Innovation. The fund makes it possible to respond promptly and flexibly and to initiate the necessary measures where strategic goals need to be reached quickly.
Consistent with the pact's objectives, all grants are awarded in a competitive process. The decision to increase the grants budget from the 20 million euros in 2003 to 80.7 million euros in 2014 will enhance the Initiative and Networking Fund's penetration and efficiency as a strategic instrument.
The fund provides five kinds of support:
1. Helmholtz Alliances to Occupy Key Future Research Topics
Helmholtz Alliances serve to identify important new research topics quickly and to address these with the requisite resources. By complementing the association's medium- and long-term programme-oriented funding, this instrument contributes valuably to enabling the Helmholtz Association to meet its mission at all times. Research within the Alliances is collaborative and integrates partners from academia, non-university research, and private enterprise.
2. Helmholtz Virtual Institutes: Expanding Networks within the Scientific Community
Helmholtz Virtual Institutes either initiate or extend cooperation between universities and Helmholtz Centres. Research groups from universities and Helmholtz Centres unite their resources and capacities within these Virtual Institutes and then work together in the pursuit of concrete strategic research goals.
3. Promoting Young Researchers
The Initiative and Networking Fund promotes young researchers at all qualification levels: from encouraging children and young people to develop an interest in the natural sciences, via Helmholtz Research Schools and Graduate Schools, and through to Young Investigators Groups that offer early-stage researchers the opportunity to gain early scientific independence with an attractive package of financial and material resources.
4. Creating Frameworks for Top-Flight Research
Great research achievements are only possible when the frameworks needed to promote success are actually in place for the scientists and researchers. To make top-flight research possible, the Helmholtz Association uses its Initiative and Networking Fund to promote Technology Transfer, Equal Opportunity and the Internationalisation of Research.
5. Assuring Excellence
Doing top-flight, frontier research occasionally calls for prompt measures to assure excellence in research. Here, too, the Initiative and Networking Fund is able to provide the requisite resources. This makes it possible to drive forward research projects with a promising future or to respond quickly when excellent scientists need to be recruited or retained. Such projects are generally selected on the recommendation of the Helmholtz Association's Senate and are additionally reviewed by an external board.