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The Helmholtz Association’s portfolio process

The Helmholtz Association’s mission is to respond to the grand challenges faced by society, science and industry.

To successfully fulfil this mission in the long term, it continually and strategically plans ahead, steadfastly directing its research activities towards the issues that will play a decisive role in determining our future.

An established element in this process is the Helmholtz Association program drafts that are produced anew every five years. These take the form of suggestions on what the association’s research activities should be over the coming years. These drafts are reviewed by independent committees of international experts and their financing is authorized by the Helmholtz Senate. This continual strategic development was bolstered further with the introduction of the portfolio process in 2010.

Within this portfolio process and on the basis of the program evaluations, the Helmholtz Association enlists the help of leading external experts to examine the current situation in each of its six Research Fields. Dependent on this, it then identifies which research themes need to be tackled over the coming years. This process takes into account feedback from the scientific community and discussions with representatives from the relevant funding bodies.

The Helmholtz Association is particularly committed to meeting the objectives set out in the German government’s Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation. This is clearly evident in the strategic research planning that has taken place in the portfolio process to date. One of the Helmholtz Association’s fundamental goals is to significantly promote the continuing development of the scientific system by introducing new collaborative structures involving university and non-university partners and by pooling existing competencies. The association’s research activities are thus set up to provide an effective framework for bundling existing expertise in a variety of scientific fields and to create new ways of cooperating with external partners. Crucial to these efforts are long-standing networks and partnerships with universities, such as the Helmholtz Institutes, the Helmholtz Alliances, the Deutsche Zentren für Gesundheitsforschung (German centers for health research) and the National Cohorts, as well as many other strategic initiatives on issues such as energy storage, and water and climate research. The Association is also developing international collaborations (e.g., the planned cooperation with the Kurchatov Institute in Russia and the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative) and a wide range of partnerships with industry.


Dr. Sören Wiesenfeldt

Head of Department Research
Helmholtz Association

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