Knowledge Transfer as Part of the Helmholtz Mission

Cutting-edge research generates new knowledge. But what happens to this knowledge? How does it reach the areas of and stakeholders in society where there is a real need for current findings? This question is a core component of the Helmholtz mission. Therefore, we promote a special range of activities that are collectively referred to as "knowledge transfer". These transcend technology transfer, public outreach, and training new academic talent.

Examples of knowledge transfer:

  • Information and consultation: The Cancer Information Service of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) offers comprehensive and scientifically based information on all aspects of oncology. The service is for anyone who has questions about cancer: patients, their families and friends, as well as people looking for information on cancer prevention and cancer screening. The Cancer Information Service also provides specialists with individually researched facts and sources.
  • Dialog and interaction: The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) runs the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB). TAB was established as an independent scientific institution to discuss scientific and technical change with the German Bundestag and its committees. It is directed by Armin Grunwald, one of the most renowned philosophers of technology in Germany.
  • Continued education: The GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ) has been running an international seismology training course every year since 1992. The four-to-six-week course is designed to impart basic theoretical knowledge and practical training in applied seismology to earthquake-prone developing and emerging countries. Primarily, geoscientists and engineers participate in the course so that real capacity building can take place at the location.

There are many other examples of this at the Helmholtz Centers: The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) gets committed citizens involved in butterfly monitoring. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is consulting policy-makers and business representatives on what the passenger train of the future should look like. The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) helped to develop the DIN standard for earthquake-proof construction. 16 out of 18 Helmholtz Centers operate a school student laboratory with special teacher training programs, etc. ...

Many of these knowledge transfer activities were initially developed only through the motivation of the researchers and then strategically supported over time, often becoming institutionalized. This has created a close dialog with various stakeholders from politics, administration, business, civil society, education, and media. So that ultimately the knowledge we create also reaches society.

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  • Photo of Uli Rockenbauch