Leaving the ivory tower:Helmholtz funds three innovative projects in the area of knowledge transfer
Climate change, energy transition, data security or widespread diseases – the scientific research carried out at the Helmholtz Association tackles the major challenges facing our society and contributes to overcoming these. At the same time, the new insights gained must also reach various target groups within society if they are to have the desired effect. Therefore, exchange with the general public and the business and political spheres is more important than ever before. If knowledge is transferred effectively, this creates a better understanding of scientific findings within society, and can provide support for important decisions that affect the future.
As part of a new funding program, the Helmholtz Association selected three innovative projects in the area of knowledge transfer at the end of 2017. Each of the three projects will now receive funding in an amount of up to 1.2 million euros over a period of up to four years. Half of the funds will come from the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund, while the remaining half will be provided by the respective Helmholtz Centers involved in developing the project ideas.
“I am confident that the selected projects will become flagships in the future and serve as role models for the innovative knowledge transfer beyond the Helmholtz Association as well,” said Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. The projects are also to continue once the funding has ended, actively promoting the transfer of knowledge in their fields of expertise.
These are the three supported projects:
1. Fit for Health
Knowledge regarding widespread diseases such as cancer and diabetes is relevant for everyone, as there is a high likelihood that we will be personally affected by such diseases during our lifetimes – either because we get sick ourselves, or because someone close to us does. However, there is a general lack of knowledge regarding what constitutes healthy, preventive behavior. The “Fit for Health” project aims to impart this knowledge to children and young people early in their lives, thereby improving health literacy within this target group. To this end, innovative teaching concepts and materials are being developed to promote an understanding of the basic biological principles involved in the development, prevention, and treatment of cancer and diabetes, as well as the research carried out at the centers. The project was developed by the Life Science Lab at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) together with the Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health.
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
Dr. Susanne Weg-Remers
Phone: +49 6221 422100
Heidelberger Life Science Lab (DKFZ)
Dr. Katrin Platzer
Phone: +49 622142 1401
Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU)
Phone: +49 89 31872526
2. Dialog on energy transition
Our society is facing major challenges in many areas due to the energy transition and the associated restructuring of the existing energy systems. Key tasks within this transformation include the intensive development of renewable sources of energy and storing them, establishing connections between energy networks (heat, electricity, and gas) in a decentralized architecture, and equipping these with the appropriate information technology. The only way these tasks can be achieved is by cooperating with a large number of players within society. The “Dialog on energy transition” project at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has set itself the goal of using a range of formats to share information on the transition of the energy system in Germany with various target groups. The country’s citizens will receive essential basic knowledge through explanatory videos, workshops, public forums, and informational tours at KIT. Additional measures such as transdisciplinary seminars and real-life experiments are more specifically directed at students, innovators, and so-called early adopters. A key element of the project is dialog: The initiators not only want to impart knowledge, but also to engage in dialog with stakeholders in society. In doing so, their aim is to move the transition forward and, in turn, to address unresolved issues in research. The Karlsruhe Transformation Center (KAT) will be established in order to consolidate the project. Starting in 2020, the KAT will function as an independent institution that provides the infrastructure and expertise required to implement the exchange of knowledge, further education, and consulting as well as research, teaching, and innovations relating to the sustainability transformation.
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis
Dr. Oliver Parodi
Phone: +49 721 608 26816
Important environmental issues – including climate change and biodiversity – are addressed at the global level by various international groups such as the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) or the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). These entities also develop recommendations for action to achieve the goals stipulated by international commitments for sustainable development. While these assessments play an important role in global policy processes, their outcomes inform social debate at the national level far less frequently. Within German environmental policy, for example, the results often fail to be appropriately contextualized based on policy requirements. The objective of the INTERNAS project is to prepare up-to-date international assessments and the analyses of these as well as options for action in a more adequate manner, and render them useful for policy advisory activities at the national level. At the same time, these efforts are intended to reinforce the implementation of the UN sustainability goals at the national and international levels. To this end, the project will work with a broad range of players from politics and society during the assessment finalization phase in order to identify potential consequences for German policy in the form of options for action. The Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) are pooling their expertise regarding terrestrial, marine, coastal, and polar systems within this knowledge transfer project.
Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ)
Dr. Kristina Raab
Phone: +49 341 235 1650
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Dr. Gesche Krause
Phone: +49 471 4831 1631
The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, Aeronautics, Space and Transport. With approximately 38.000 employees in 18 research centres and an annual budget of four billion euros, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation. Its work follows in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).
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