Research programmes pool strengths
various Helmholtz Centres compete for funding by setting out their proposed objectives within their particular research area in the form of strategic programmes. The research policy requirements are laid down by the funding partners, having previously been discussed by the Helmholtz Centres as well as the Association’s Senate and the federal and state governments.
The Helmholtz Association is therefore in the unique position of not only being able to offer solutions to individual problems, but also to comprehensively deal with the complex issues facing science, the economy and society.
Funding the programmes
The research programmes through which the Helmholtz Centres – usually a collaboration of at least two – apply for funding, are categorised within the Helmholtz Association’s six main fields of research: Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Matter; Key Technologies; and Aeronautics, Space and Transport.
Evaluation by top scientists
Strategic evaluation by international and independent experts forms the foundations for decisions on how the research programmes are funded. On the basis of the experts’ assessments, the state and federal governments make decisions on how much funding to give each programme. This system ensures that the Helmholtz Association’s research findings measure up with leading institutes from around the globe. The entire process is overseen by the Helmholtz’s President.
How programme-oriented funding developed
Over the past decade, no other research organisation has proposed and successfully initiated the sort of reform that the Helmholtz Association has achieved. When the Helmholtz became a registered association in autumn 2001, the entire spectrum of its research activities was strategically restructured. Programme-oriented funding was at the core of this reform. The Helmholtz Association no longer invests in individual institutions, but spreads its resources across the Centres via research programmes that compete with one another for programme-oriented funding. In keeping with the primary objectives of the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation, the main focus is on achieving outstanding results through cooperation and competition.
Strategic programmes form the basis for the Helmholtz Association’s position in the research landscape. Clearly defined goals are a further prerequisite for the Association to be able to focus on its strengths and conduct competitive, top-level research. Through concentrating its strengths in multidisciplinary teams and by pooling the many varied resources of its research centres, the Helmholtz Association is in the unique position of not only being able to offer solutions to individual problems, but also to comprehensively address the complex issues facing science, the economy and society and to develop system solutions.