Scientific excellence requires the best minds—and large-scale collaborative research depends on partnerships with the most effective research institutions in the scientific system. Helmholtz achieves both of these objectives through joint appointments, among other activities. With 736 joint appointments, the number has risen strongly in recent years. In addition, participation in programs of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Excellence Initiative demonstrate the extent of national networking in the science system. Helmholtz Centres have been established partners of universities in all funding lines of the Excellence Initiative since 2006. In the “Excellence Initiative,” which ended in 2018/2019, Helmholtz institutions were involved in three-quarters (73 percent) of all institutional strategies, in well over one-third (38 percent) of all funded graduate schools, and in almost half (44 percent) of the “Clusters of Excellence”.
Improving equal opportunities is a key priority at Helmholtz. This aspect is firmly rooted in the Helmholtz mission and is an integral part of the talent management. It is a topic that is systematically integrated into all of our programs and activities. The striking effects of this approach can be seen in the staffing of W3 professorships, for example. The proportion of women among new appointments was 19.4 percent in 2020. In the reporting year 2020, a new record was set for the appointment of women to W2 positions, with a quota of 38.5 percent. Furthermore, the proportion of women in jointly appointed W2/W3 professorships has risen steadily in recent years to 22.4 percent in 2020.
New W2/W3 appointments
Fostering the development of young scientists is central to securing both the Helmholtz Association’s future and the viability of Germany as a center of research and science. It is therefore part of the Helmholtz mission. In the first two periods of the Joint Initiative for Innovation and Research, Helmholtz developed numerous overarching funding instruments within the framework of the Initiative and Networking Fund. It also supported these instruments with substantial funding from the Joint Initiative, in addition to advancing the careers of young scientists at the Helmholtz Centers. The instruments have evolved into a comprehensive strategic talent management system that offers attractive conditions to the best young researchers at every stage of their careers:
- Doctoral training at graduate schools and colleges
- Postdoc programs providing funding immediately upon completion of PhDs
- Helmholtz Young Investigator Groups for top international talent
- W2/W3 program for recruiting and supporting young female scientists
- Recruiting initiative to attract internationally renowned researchers for the Helmholtz Centers.