Helmholtz Virtual Institutes: Expanding Networks within the Scientific Community

By establishing new research partnerships, Helmholtz Virtual Institutes provide a distinct benefit in preparing the way for larger strategic research projects. With this funding the Helmholtz Association wants to strengthen the position of universities in the German scientific system. A further aim of the funding programme is to generate new collaboration with leading international partner institutions. A Helmholtz Virtual Institute brings together the key competencies of one or more Helmholtz Centres with those of one or more universities to create a centre of excellence of international standing. This serves to create a new quality of cooperation strengthening scientific excellence and increasing international competitiveness. Other national or international partners may be involved as associated partners.

Helmholtz Virtual Institutes have their own executive and management structure and develop special measures to qualify their young researchers. Over a three to five year period, Virtual Institutes receive up to a maximum of 600,000 euros per year from the Initiative and Networking Fund. With this scope Virtual Institutes possess of an ideal size, to prepare the way for larger collaborative networks such as the Helmholtz Alliances. Five calls for proposals have been completed so far, with grants worth a total of some 100 million euros being awarded to 99 Virtual Institutes in which almost 326 university partners from 61 German universities are actively involved.