Joint European research projects get a boost

Helmholtz supports partnerships between the Helmholtz Centers and research institutions in selected European countries in the “Helmholtz European Partnering” funding program. Three further projects have now been selected to the program during the second round of calls for applications. They will receive funding of up to 250,000 euros per year for a period of three years to promote joint topics and strengthen the European Research Area.

The results from the second round of calls for applications for the “Helmholtz European Partnership” funding program are now in, and Helmholtz is set to provide support for three European research projects. The initiatives aim to improve solar cells, develop new drugs in the field of neurology, and deploy enhanced technologies in energy as well as climate and environment research. The projects will run for a period of three years with an option to extend them for a further two years following successful evaluation. Each will have access to funding of up to 250,000 euros per year.

“I would like to warmly congratulate the researchers on the selected projects,” says Otmar D. Wiestler, President of Helmholtz. “This funding not only promotes outstanding research. It also provides an important boost for the development of partnerships between Helmholtz Centers and research institutions with a complementary focus in other European countries.” The program was initiated with the goal of strengthening the European Research Area and particularly the Association’s cooperation with countries in southern, central, and eastern Europe.

The recently selected project partners of the three Helmholtz Centers come from Italy, Slovenia, and Greece. They will now take their collaboration further as they place an intensive focus on their respective research topics. “Working more closely together will also make an important contribution to the further development of the respective scientific systems and thus the European Research Area as a whole,” continues Wiestler. “This will be key in making Europe a more attractive location in respect to the global competition for the best talent.”

Within the funded projects, the researchers will have the opportunity to take part in reciprocal research stays, organize joint symposia, and prepare joint publications. Talented early-career researchers in particular will receive support in mobility, research, and qualification programs. In addition, the Helmholtz Centers participating in the programs will provide their partner institutions with advice and assistance for the further development of strategically relevant research initiatives, management structures, and infrastructure. Mutual visits, joint education events, and participation in management teams and advisory boards will also enhance the transfer of knowledge.

All seven of the applications that were submitted during the recently concluded second round of calls were invited to take part in a selection meeting with an international panel of experts chaired by the Helmholtz President. The following three projects were subsequently selected:

Forschungszentrum Jülich:

Innovative high-performance computing approaches for molecular neuromedicine

High-performance computing (HPC) has significantly expanded our understanding of how biological systems work in recent years. HPC-based molecular simulations today therefore have the potential to shed light on basic molecular mechanisms in the fields of neurobiology and pharmacology. This collaboration will build on an established, successful partnership between Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) and renowned Italian research groups to set up a highly innovative and sustainable HPC-based platform for neuropharmacology research together with the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology, IIT) in Genoa, Italy. The platform will develop and apply HPC simulation approaches with the aim of revealing key molecular aspects of neurological processes. The resulting new insights will make it possible to develop new radiotracers and effective pharmacological agents for neurological diseases in a targeted way.

Partner: Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Contact: Prof. Paolo Carloni, p.carloni(at)fz-juelich.de

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin:

Tandem perovskite and silicon solar cells—advanced opto-electrical characterization, modeling, and stability (TAPAS)

Photovoltaic technology offers tremendous opportunities for generating electricity in an inexpensive and climate-neutral way. Future solar modules have the potential to become even more efficient and cost-effective. The TAPAS project intends to contribute to these efforts by studying tandem solar cells made of silicon and perovskite which allow significantly higher efficiency rates. It aims to use opto-electrical modeling to develop highly efficient and stable tandem solar cells of the next generation for the energy system of the future. In recent years, the Laboratory of Photovoltaics and Optoelectronics at the University of Ljubljana and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have formed a very successful partnership which will be further strengthened by this funding. The key aspect of the project will consist of determining the causes for efficiency losses in order to improve the stability of these tandem solar cells.

Partner: University of Ljubljana

Contact: Prof. Steve Albrecht, steve.albrecht(at)helmholtz-berlin.de

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology:

Helmholtz European Partnership for Technological Advancement (HEPTA)

HEPTA promotes collaboration between the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and KIT in the development of sustainable technologies in the areas of air quality, atmospheric physics, biomass, and smart cities. HEPTA has three goals: Firstly, it aims to establish a formal connection between AUTh and KIT which focuses on developing technology while giving special consideration to the most important research topics in the fields of climate, energy, and environment. Its second goal is to support young researchers at both institutions, strictly ensuring an equal balance between female and male researchers. Finally, the project partners want to take a long-term perspective as they build on the cooperation between the two institutions. This will enable them to work more rapidly with the industrial sector to transfer the results of their research into specific applications.

Partner: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Contact: Prof. Johannes Orphal, johannes.orphal(at)kit.edu

Helmholtz contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science, and the economy through top-level scientific achievements in six Research Fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, and Aeronautics, Space, and Transport. With more than 40,000 employees at 19 Research Centers and an annual budget of around 4.7 billion euros, Helmholtz is the largest scientific organization in Germany. Its work is rooted in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–1894).

September 12, 2019

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