Media Information. September 12, 2016

Digitalization – 50 new IT professorships for Berlin

38.5 million euros are flowing into the approved Einstein Center Digital Future / The call for the first 18 professorships will be announced on 12 September 2016

  • 50 new professorships for Berlin in the field of digitalization
  • 38.5 million euros for the new Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF)
  • Hiring campaign for 18 professorships is starting
  • Cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in four areas
  • Nationwide unique public-private partnership involving four universities, two universities of applied sciences, eight non-university research institutions, two federal ministries, the State of Berlin and 20 industry companies
  • Participating companies are donating twelve million euros for professorships
  • Attractive location for the ECDF at Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin-Mitte

Berlin will be getting 50 new professors in the field of digitalization. They will be selected from the four Berlin universities: Technische Universität Berlin, Universität der Künste Berlin as well as Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, with their joint medical faculty, Charité  – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The Beuth University of Applied Sciences and the HTW University of Applied Sciences will also establish professorships. The professorships are part of the new Einstein Center Digital Future, which was approved by the Einstein Foundation Berlin on 5 September, 2016. A total of 38.5 million euros will flow into the new Einstein Center. The heads of the Center are located at the Technische Universität Berlin.

This unique project has been made possible by numerous partners in business, the sciences and politics. In addition to the four Berlin universities and the two universities of applied sciences, eight non-university research institutions are also involved: the Berlin Institute of Health, the Fauenhofer Institute FOKUS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications – Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, the German Aerospace Center, the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Society, the PTB – National Meteorology Institute and the Konrad Zuse Center for Information Technology Berlin. The research institutions are providing 8.5 million euros for the joint call with the universities.

20 companies are involved in the initiative. A total of 12 million euros for the professorships will come from these companies. They include the Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB), the Federal Printing Office, Cornelsen, German-Turkish Advanced ICT Research Center, Intel, SAP, Telekom, Viessmann and Zalando.

The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, who are each funding one professorship, are also involved.

The state of Berlin is also strongly committed to the initiative. Berlin will be adding 50 cents through the Einstein Foundation for each euro contributed.

The magnitude of this alliance between twelve public institutions as well as foundations and supporters is unique for Berlin, which is already known as a location for the sciences.

The researchers at the Einstein Center Digital Future will conduct research in four areas:

  • The core area of digital infrastructure, methods and algorithms,
  • and the three innovation areas of digital industry and services,
  • digital society and humanities as well as
  • digital health.

The professorships are deliberately conceived of as interdisciplinary and are supposed to offer interfaces with other disciplines in their research. The Einstein Center Digital Future would like to become a cross-university nucleus for supporting and researching digital structures in the sciences, the economy and society. The project in Berlin is supposed to provide more connections, new forms of cooperation, concentration on innovative cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and excellently trained young scientific talent instead of focusing on new individual initiatives.

The Einstein Center’s designated spokespersons are:

  • Einstein Center Digital Future: Professor Odej Kao, Technische Universität Berlin
  • innovation area “digital health”: Professor Erwin Böttinger, Chair of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH),
  • innovation area “digital society and humanities“: Professor Gesche Joost, Universität der Künste Berlin,
  • innovation area “digital industry and service”: Dr.-Ing. Jochen Schiller, Freie Universität Berlin
  • core area “digital infrastructure, methods and algorithms”: Professor Johann-Christoph Freytag, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The Einstein Center Digital Future has a planned running period of six years. The first funding phase will run from 1 April 2017 to 31 May 2020, and the second will run from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023 following a successful interim evaluation in 2018.

Most of the professorships will be junior professorships, which last for six years. W2/W3 professorships and a visiting professorship will also be established. Two important aims are, firstly, to attract as many women as possible to the positions, and secondly, to extend or make permanent some of the professorships, which are being financed with private and industrial funds.

The first step is the call for the first 18 professorships on 12 September 2016. A second call will also take place this year.

The individual topics for the professorships are quite varied. For example, research is supposed to be done in the areas of smart housing, smart cities, smart mobility, digital education, bioinformatics, personalized medicine, digital diagnostics or new methods in genome data analysis and biomedical imaging as well as semantic data intelligence, identity management, physical foundations of IT security, the Internet of Things and wearable technologies. The topics of water and sewage systems 4.0, digitalization and the workplace as well as digitalization and multicultural aspects also play a role.

The space at Willhelmstrasse directly near the Robert Koch Forum is also supposed to create an interdisciplinary research environment in which the best young “digital minds” from all over the world develop, shape and advance digitalization in the sciences, the economy and society together with excellent researchers from Berlin universities and non-university research institutions as well as partners from industry and society. Many of the new professorships will be located at this new address for the Einstein Center. The new location will provide the initiative with a visible center in the heart of the German capital. It is also supposed to develop into a public forum for the exchange of important and current ideas around digitalization.

The starting point for this immense joint project was the Berlin Working Group on Digitalization, which was initiated in June 2015 by the current mayor of Berlin Michael Müller and the President of the Technische Universität Berlin Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen. This was preceded by a public discussion on the use of freed financial resources that the State of Berlin had earmarked for an Olympic bid that never materialized. 

Berlin – the place for IT and science
The four scientific areas of the ECDF build on Berlin’s existing strengths in the sciences and humanities. In addition to the universities – among them two excellence universities, the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin – these strengths also include:

  • the university clusters UniCat, Topoi, NeuroCure, “Image Knowledge Gestaltung,” which are supported by the excellence initiative,
  • the graduate schools supported by the excellence initiative: the Berlin Mathematical School, Berlin-Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies, Berlin School of Mind and Brain and the Berlin School of Integrative Oncology,
  • the three Fraunhofer Institutes: Heinrich Hertz, FOKUS and IRM, which have a strong connection with IT,
  • the three Einstein Centers for Catalysis, Neurosciences and Mathematics as well as the newly approved Chronoi Center and Center for Regenerative Therapies,
  • the 30 DFG special research areas and the 22 graduate colleges that also work on digital issues,
  • the 15 Einstein Professors and 24 Einstein Visiting Fellows,
  • and the nationwide Big Data Center headquartered at the Technische Universität Berlin.

When the German Informatics Society, the largest association of computer scientists in Germany, selected Germany’s top 40 digital minds in 2014, ten were from Berlin/Brandenburg.

11,300 students were enrolled in ITC-related study programs in the winter semester 2014/2015.

158 computer science professors are currently teaching in Berlin.

Around 75 million euros in funds flow into companies and projects in information and communications technology, the media and creative industries in Berlin each year.

7,300 companies were involved in the digital economy in 2013 and 75,000 people were employed in the digital economy in Berlin.

The Berlin companies involved in the digital economy generated revenue of 11 billion euros in 2013. This represents 5.5 percent of the entire revenue for the Berlin economy.