Helmholtz Association

Helmholtz Virtual Institutes

By establishing new research partnerships, Helmholtz Virtual Institutes provide a distinct benefit in preparing the way for larger strategic research projects. With this funding the Helmholtz Association wants to strengthen the position of universities in the German scientific system. A further aim of the funding programme is to generate new collaboration with leading international partner institutions and the industry. 

The Instrument

A Helmholtz Virtual Institute brings together the key competencies of one or more Helmholtz Centres with those of one or more universities to create a centre of excellence of international standing. This serves to create a new quality of cooperation strengthening scientific excellence and increasing international competitiveness. Other national or international partners may be involved as associated partners.

Helmholtz Virtual Institutes have their own executive and management structure and develop special measures to qualify their young researchers. Over a three to five year period, Virtual Institutes receive up to a maximum of 600,000 euros per year from the Initiative and Networking Fund. With this scope Virtual Institutes possess of an ideal size, to prepare the way for larger collaborative networks such as the Helmholtz Alliances.

Six calls for proposals have been completed so far, with grants worth a total of some 129 million euros being awarded to 110 Virtual Institutes in which almost 326 university partners from 67 German universities are actively involved. The share donated to the universities is about 55 million euro.


Eleven new Virtual Institutes from July 2012

Biological timing in a changing marine environment: Clocks and rhythms in polar pelagic organisms

Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI)

Partners: Charité Berlin, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, University of Padua (Italien), Australian Antarctis Division


Plasma wakefield acceleration of highly relativistic electrons with FLASH

Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (DESY)

Partners: Universität Hambur, John Adams Institute (UK), Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory (USA), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (USA)

Solar SynGas

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt

Partners: TU Claustha, ETH Zürich (Schweiz)


RNA dysmetabolism in Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia

Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE)

Partners: University of Umea (Schweden), Université de Strasbourg (Frankreich), INSERM U692

Virtual Institute for Topological Insulators

Forschungszentrum Jülich

Partners: RWTH Aachen, Universität Würzburg, Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Information Technology (China), Chinese Academy of Sciences (China)


New states of matter and their excitations

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Partners: TU Berlin, FU Berlin, TU Dresden, Georg August Universität Göttingen, TU Dortmun, Princeton University (USA), University of Oxford (UK), University of La Plata (Argentinien), California Institute of Technology (USA), SNS Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA)


Microstructure control for thin-film solar cells

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Partners: TU Berlin, FU Berlin, TU Darmstad, University of Oxford (UK), ETH Zürich (Schweiz), SuperStem (UK)

In vivo studies of biodegradable magnesium based implant materials (MetBioMat)

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung (HZG)

Partners: Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, MH Hannover, Medizinische Universität Graz (Österreich)


Dead Sea Research Venue – DESERVE

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Partners: Tel Aviv University (Israel), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), Al-Balqa Applied University (Jordanien), An-Najah National University (Palästina)

Printed electronics based on inorganic nanomaterials: From atoms to functional devices and circuits

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Partners: TU Darmstadt, Universität Duisburg-Esse, ETH Zürich (Schweiz), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (USA)


Plasma Dynamical Processes and Turbulence Studies using Advanced Microwave Diagnostics

Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik (IPP)

Partners: Universität Stuttgart, TU München, Ecole Polytechnique Palaiseau (Frankreich), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (Schweiz)


Twelve new Virtual Institutes from July 2011

In-Situ Nano-Imaging of Biological and Chemical Processes

Partners involved: DESY , KIT, Universität Göttingen, Universität Heidelberg, Universität Karlsruhe, Dresden (TU)
Contact: Prof. Dr.Christian Schroer, DESY

Understanding and overcoming resistance to apoptosis and therapy in leukemia

Partners involved: DKFZ, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Universität Würzburg, Universität Ulm, University of London, Technical University of Denmark, Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen Heidelberg (NCT)
Contact: Prof. Dr. Peter Lichter und Prof. Dr. Daniel Mertens, DKFZ

Integrated Climate and Landscape Evolution Analyses

Partners involved: GFZ, Universität Greifswald, TU Cottbus, Polnische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Contact: Prof. Dr. Achim Brauer, GFZ

Nuclear Astrophysics Virtual Institute

Partners involved: GSI, FZJ, HZDR, Universität Frankfurt am Main, Universität Würzburg, Universität Gießen, Universität Bonn, Universität Darmstadt, Universität Basel, Michigan State University, Schwerionenbeschleunigeranlage (GANIL) im französischen Caen
Contact: Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Langanke, GSI

The Helmholtz Virtual Institute of Complex Molecular Systems in Environmental Health – HICE

Partners involved: HMGU, MDC, KIT, Universität Rostock, Universität München, University of Eastern Finland, University of Cardiff, University of Luxembourg
Contact: HMGU, Prof. Dr. Ralf Zimmermann

Dynamic Pathways in Multidimensional Landscapes

Partners involved: Stanford, USA (SLAC), Max-Born-Institut, Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, FU Berlin, TU Berlin, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Universität Potsdam, Universität Hamburg, Universität Amsterdam
Contact: Prof. Dr. Alexander Föhlisch, HZB

Functional nanomaterials for multimodality cancer imaging (Nano Tracking)

Partners involved:  HZDR , Universität Münster, Universität Heidelberg, Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung, OncoRay Dresden, Monash University Melbourne, University College Dublin
Contact: Dr. Holger Stephan, HZDR

Memory Effects in Resistive Ion-beam Modified Oxides (MEMRIOX)

Partners involved: HZDR, FZJ, TU Aachen, TU Freiberg, Universität Dresden, Universität Jena, ETH Zürich, University of California
Contact: Dr. Sibylle Gemming, HZDR

Multifunctional Biomaterials for Medicine

Partners involved: HZG, HZB, FU Berlin, Universität Freiburg
Contact: Prof. Dr. Andreas Lendlein, HZG

Viral Strategies of Immune Evasion VISTRIE

Partners involved: HZI, Universität Hannover (MedH), Universität Düsseldorf, University of Rjeka
Contact: Luka Cicin-Sain, HZI

New X-ray analytic methods in material science (VI-NXMM)

Partners involved: KIT, HZG, TU München und Eidgenössische Materialprüfungsanstalt EMPA
Contact: Prof. Dr. Jürg Leuthold

Helmholtz Virtual Institute Gasification Technology (HVIGasTech)

Partners involved: KIT, FZJ, DLR, TH Aachen, TU Clausthal, Paul Scherrer Institut, Energy research Center of Netherlands
Contact: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Kolb

Virtual Institutes 2002-2008

Here you can find an overview of Virtual Institutes from 2002 to 2008.

Overview Virtuelle Institute (german)


Andreas Schulze

Helmholtz Alliances,
Helmholtz Virtual Institutes

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-75
andreas.schulze (at) helmholtz.de

Martina Carnott

Initiative and Networking Fund,
Administration, Virtual Institutes

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 228 30818-27
martina.carnott (at) helmholtz.de