The Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) is the center for digitalization research in Berlin. Since its opening on April 3, 2017, scientists have been conducting research in the core areas of
● Digital Infrastructure, Methods, and Algorithms
and in the innovation areas of
● Digital Health
● Digital Society
● Digital Industry and Services.
The ECDF is a project based on a large-scale public-private partnership (PPP) between more than 30 companies, organizations, all four Berlin universities, the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and more than ten research institutions from Berlin science.
With 38.5 million euros in funding, the project aims to create more links in the field of digitization in Berlin, try out new forms of cooperation, concentrate on innovative interdisciplinary cutting-edge research and attract excellently trained young scientific talent. The ECDF was approved by the Einstein Foundation Berlin in September 2016 after an elaborate review. In July 2022, after a successful evaluation by an international panel of experts, the Board of Directors of the Einstein Foundation decided that the ECDF will be funded for five more years until March 31, 2028.
The Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) is an enabler and accelerator for research in the field of digitalization in Berlin. We provide orientation in the disruptive digital transformation that we are experiencing by thinking outside the box, empowering evidence-based research, and pursuing a holistic approach to the current challenges that our digital future poses. In this age in which digital technologies are disrupting fundamental assumptions about how we live together, research must also disrupt itself. Our work is grounded in the shared European values that have contributed to the principles of a free and open Internet. We engage in critical debates on the overarching questions: What are our shared goals for the digital transformation? How do we envision our future society, and what values will it have? And what can we as researchers contribute to that vision? Considerable research questions therefore lie ahead of us. To find answers to these and many other questions, to understand how the answers will influence the digital infrastructure of the future, our aim is to create a new kind of faculty free from silos. We are working toward a shared vision of a future research landscape where experts from various fields address today’s challenging questions in an agile, interdisciplinary, and inspiring way. These are the pillars of our shared vision:
- Digitalization for everyone: We are currently facing a widening digital gap, and more and more people are afraid of losing their place in our rapidly changing society as a result. We want to include everyone in the digital transformation and to help shape a shared vision of tomorrow’s society. We want people from all backgrounds to take part in discussions on technologies, on the aims of digitalization, and on questions that challenge fundamental principles of today’s society.
- Digitalization beyond silos: Digitalization affects all areas of our daily lives and transcends disciplinary boundaries and established fields of expertise in new and unpredictable ways. Our scientists and researchers are grouped around cross-cutting topics and not along the lines of traditional scientific disciplines. We believe that ECDF serves as a role model for a future interdisciplinary and rapidly evolving faculty that complements traditional university structures.
- Human-centered digitalization: Digitalization will transform all aspects of human life and activity. We follow a vision of digitalization that not only seeks to optimize the efficiency of its solutions, but one that remains in service to people, a digitalization that strengthens human rights and improves human welfare. In this context, it is vital to provide easy access to trustworthy, diversified information, and non-patronizing services that support freedom of choice and preserve privacy while ensuring non-discriminatory treatment and participation in governance.
The Robert-Koch-Forum is our open House of Digitalization in the heart of Berlin and hosts excellent scientists from all over the world, providing a space for their ideas on how digitalization can be researched, designed, and implemented. We work with real data on existing infrastructures, simulations, and applications in a dialogue with citizens. We act responsibly and courageously, are open to new ideas, and design our processes to be transparent and equitable to all. We follow an Open Science agenda in which enabling access to knowledge and open data is a key principle. We foster interdisciplinary research projects in order to provide a holistic view of the current demanding challenges that a digital world creates. We want to inspire our researchers to make meaningful contributions to the societal discourse on our future.