The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres is Germany’s largest research organisation. Helmholtz works on long-term research goals. The core concept is the preservation and improvement of the basis for human life.
The Helmholtz Association comprises 19 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres. The Helmholtz’ six research fields focus on the grand and pressing challenges facing our society:
- Earth and Environment
- Aeronautics, Space and Transport
- Key Technologies (in the future: Information)
Helmholtz sets up and operates unique research infrastructures and large-scale facilities, such as particle accelerators, research vessels and aircraft. Its facilities are made available to researchers from universities and non-university research institutes both within Germany and abroad.
The Association has several instruments to enable Helmholtz Centres to achieve their goals, e.g.:
- Programme-oriented funding: Helmholtz invests its resources not in individual institutions, but in cross-centre research programmes. Their objective is to deliver an integrated response to complex issues emanating from academia, society, and the economy, and to work with the best partners to develop system solutions.
- Helmholtz develops and operates complex future-oriented infrastructures and unique large-scale facilities such as accelerator systems, research vessels, observatories and supercomputers and makes them available to researchers from around the world.
- The Helmholtz President’s Initiative and Networking Fund makes it possible to set up initiatives rapidly and flexibly in areas where strategic goals are to be reached quickly.
Facts and figures
19 scientific-technical and biological-medical Helmholtz Research Centres
42,000 employees, including roughly 16,000 research staff;
more than 8,500 supervised and 5,400 employed PhD students and 11,000 visiting scientists from all over the world
Annual budget: 5 billion euros (2020)
Partnerships with institutions and organisations all over the world, international collaborative research projects in many countries
Roughly 400 patent applications each year
Helmholtz contributes to our understanding of the complex systems that influence human life and the human environment: not only questions relating to a secure and reliable energy supply, sustainable use of resources, future mobility or the treatment of previously incurable diseases, but also questions such as the origin of the universe. Helmholtz Research Centres provide the most modern scientific infrastructure, which is also used by the international scientific community. In some cases, the equipment is to be found nowhere else in the world.
The Helmholtz Association maintains offices in Beijing, Brussels, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
Helmholtz is involved in a large number of strategic partnerships with institutions and organisations all over the world. Traditionally, these primarily include partners in North America, but also in Asia and the Pacific region.
In addition, the Association is constantly working to develop relationships with research institutions in Central and Eastern Europe. This commitment has given rise to a variety of joint research projects with Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Russian partners.
The Helmholtz Association’s total budget amounts to 5 billion euros (2020). Helmholtz’s annual budget consists of basic funding and third-party funding. The Federal Government and the respective states in which Helmholtz Centres are located provide funding on a ratio of approximately 90 to 10%. The Helmholtz Research Centres raise roughly 30% of their total budget themselves in the form of third-party funding.