Jump directly to the page contents

Research Field Information

Results and recommendations of strategic evaluation

The Research Field Information studies the basic principles of information processing, the development of future data analysis and computer technologies, and innovative material development. This includes investigating natural, artificial, and cognitive information systems, new materials, and ways of integrating this new knowledge into the world’s most powerful computers and algorithms of the next generation. The development of new technologies is accompanied by assessments of the related ethical and sociological consequences.

"Of particular note is the research aiming to understand the fundamental processes in our brain and everything that comes with the new possibilities in the field of computing."

Bert Meijer, Eindhoven University of Technology


Programs in the 2021–2027 funding period

• Engineering Digital Futures

• Natural, Artifi cial, and Cognitive Information Processing

• Materials Systems Engineering

Participating centers

• Forschungszentrum Jülich

• Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)

• Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Center for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG)

• Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)


Wolfgang Marquardt - Forschungszentrum Jülich


The committee emphasized that the research fi eld employs a multidimensional, integrated approach to addressing the major challenges facing society. The experts noted that the research is based on the outstanding expertise of its scientists as well as on its infrastructure, which is unique and among the best in the world in many cases. They also highlighted the Joint Labs, which serve as key bridges between the programs and other research fields. Another aspect that they deemed to be particularly noteworthy was the rapid and consistent way in which the research field moved forward with the process of transitioning from the prior Key Technologies topic area to Information.

The experts’ report described the Engineering Digital Futures program as a strong platform for computer-based research in the research field. They praised its combination of data-intensive research and scientific computing as well as the systematic approach taken in cybersecurity research. Moreover, they identified the computing infrastructure as a valuable asset on the way to exascale computing. In their view, the program’s work on assessing the impact of technology – which also sheds light on philosophical and ethical issues – likewise off ers substantial added value.

The panel delivered a very positive evaluation of the Natural, Artificial, and Cognitive Information Processing program, describing it as highly interdisciplinary. The experts identifi ed the research fi eld as one of the best groups in the world on the physical side of quantum computing and also found that its biological research is of a high standard, while recommending that these activities be given a stronger focus. In addition, they described the research that Helmholtz conducts in brain research as world-class, particularly with respect to imaging and image analysis as well as the development of brain atlases.

The Materials Systems Engineering program off ers an incredible combination of new opportunities in information, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with materials sciences and is taking materials research as a whole to a new level. The research groups have access to outstanding infrastructure. The experts recommended that they enhance their skills with respect to computer-based approaches and seek out partnerships

Strategic Recommendations

  • The research field should expand its competencies to include a special activity to develop software and algorithms in addition to stepping up partnerships with leading institutions.
  • The research field could respond to current developments more rapidly and place a stronger focus on individual topics by seeking out and exploiting new opportunities on an ongoing basis.
  • Stronger links should be established between the research field’s information-oriented activities and other research fields.
  • Partnerships with industry and the translation and the transfer of knowledge should be enhanced.

Christine Mieck

Chief Research Manager Information
Helmholtz Association

As curious as we are? Discover more.