University Cooperation: New Helmholtz Alliances and Virtual Institutes
The Helmholtz Association provides funds for four new Helmholtz alliances and eleven new virtual institutes in order to further expand the cooperation with universities and other partners. The eleven virtual institutes receive funds totalling 30 million Euro from out of the Helmholtz Association's Initiative and Networking Fund. The four new Helmholtz alliances are allocated 50 million Euro from out of the Initiative and Networking Fund. These funds are augmented by contributions from the involved partnering institutions.
In a Helmholtz alliance, usually several Helmholtz centres join forces with universities and extra-mural partners from within Germany and abroad to pool their respective competences and to quickly achieve results and international visibility in strategically important fields of research. Helmholtz alliances can receive funds from out of the Initiative and Networking Fund totalling up to 3 million Euro per year, in addition to the same amount coming from the respective Helmholtz centres by way of their individual contribution. The funding period is five years. ICE-MED is one of the new alliances receiving funding. It researches visualisation and treatment of environmental metabolic diseases. The alliance is headed by the Helmholtz Zentrum München and includes also the Forschungszentrum Jülich research centre, the MDC and the DKFZ. The Helmholtz Alliance ROBEX, headed by the AWI, is concerned with robotic exploration under extreme conditions. This alliance involves contributions from the Helmholtz centres DLR and GEOMAR. The Helmholtz Alliance Remote Sensing and Earth System Dynamics joins the forces of the Helmholtz centres UFZ, Forschungszentrum Jülich, GFZ, Helmholtz Zentrum München, KIT, AWI, GEOMAR and DLR (in charge) with those of external partners to use remote sensing in the investigation of geoscience questions. The Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH focuses on liquid metal technologies. It is headed by the HZDR and involves the Helmholtz centres KIT, Forschungszentrum Jülich, DLR as well as numerous other partners.
The focal topics of the eleven virtual institutes range from basic research, over the development of new solar technologies, to concrete medical research projects. In the Virtual Institute MetBioMat, for instance, scientists from the Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht and their colleagues from university research groups investigate how innovative magnesium-based implants are biologically degraded. Virtual institutes receive up to 600,000 Euro per year over a period of three to five years from out of the Initiative and Networking Fund. This is augmented by the centres' own contributions, so that the research projects can be financed with up to 900,000 Euro per year. Within the scope of the five calls for application that have taken place so far, 99 virtual institutes were or are being funded with a total of almost 100 million Euro. A total of 326 university partners from 61 different German universities were or are involved. From the total sum of nearly 100 million Euro, a share of about 56 million Euro went or, respectively, goes to the universities. Virtual institutes can be used also as a means of preparation for larger networks, such as the Helmholtz alliances.