"Fischbauch"-building, HWR-Campus Lichtenberg

Image: HWR Berlin © Michael Kompe

Innovative University Funding Programme: A Success for Berlin University Network

A network of five Berlin universities has been granted around €8 million funding within the scope of the nationwide Innovative University initiative. The Joint Science Conference approved the joint application submitted by HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences, the Berlin School of Economics and Law, the Berlin Institute of Technology as well as the Protestant and Catholic Universities of Applied Sciences Berlin. In the coming 5 years, the network will focus on urban challenges such as climate action and health; partners in business and urban society will implement projects to support research.

Under the heading “For the Future of our City. The University Network for a Resilient Berlin” (“Zukunft findet Stadt. Das Hochschulnetzwerk für ein resilientes Berlin”), five of Berlin’s universities have joined forces: HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences; the Berlin School of Economics and Law; the Berlin Institute of Technology (“Berliner Hochschule für Technik”, BHT); the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Berlin; and the Catholic University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Together, these five Berlin universities submitted an application for funding during the second round of the nationwide Innovative University (“Innovative Hochschule”) programme. In early May, the Joint Scientific Conference announced that the application had been granted; in total, this network of Berlin universities will receive around €8.4 million during the funding period, which will run from 2023 to 2027. Around €1.2 million of this sum will go to project partners in business and society, while around €850,000 will flow into Berlin’s economy via awarded contracts.

With their project, the five universities aim to restructure how they pool their research and innovation competences to make the area in and around the capital resistant to crises. The project focuses on health and climate protection and also intends to accelerate the transfer between universities, society and business. In close cooperation with partners from business and urban society, the universities will develop and test new transfer formats and activities, examples of which are two real-world labs, which will be established at the St. John’s Welfare Foundation (“Johannesstift Diakonie”) and Impact Hub Berlin, both partners of the project.

The Innovative University programme is considered a counterpart to the Excellence Strategy (“Exzellenzstrategie”) initiated by the German government at federal and state (“Länder”) level. “While the Excellence Strategy focuses on cutting-edge research, this funding honours universities that excel at transferring knowledge,” explains Prof. Dr Carsten Busch, spokesperson for Berlin’s Universities of Applied Sciences and president of HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences.

ASH Berlin was also selected for the funding programme; the university submitted an individual application titled “Campus Transferale – CaT. ASH Berlin’s path to becoming a transfer campus” (“Campus Transferale – CaT. Die ASH Berlin auf dem Weg zu einem Transfercampus”). By taking participative approaches to research, the project aims to assist and provide expert support to people in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district in particular.

165 universities throughout Germany had applied for funding during the second round of the Innovative University initiative; an independent committee selected 16 individual and 13 joint projects. The initiative was established in 2016; the federal and state governments will provide up to €550 million for a total of ten years. The programme funds small and medium-sized universities and universities of applied sciences in particular. (vdo)