Since the end of 2017, the University of Oxford and the Berlin University Alliance have formed a research partnership. More than 1,000 researchers and students from Berlin and Oxford have been involved in the partnership’s programs so far, benefitting from over 1 million euros of funding. The newly established Centre for Advanced Studies funds cooperating groups consisting of up to ten fellows working together. These cooperating groups are to conduct research on topics relating to the Berlin University Alliance’s Grand Challenge Initiatives. The Grand Challenge Initiatives will be examining particularly relevant global challenges, such as the current issues of Global Health and Social Cohesion. The Centre is funded under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder by the Berlin University Alliance and improves the parameters for making Oxford/Berlin collaborative research partnership more flexible from an organizational point of view and strengthening the exchange of expertise across national borders.
The cooperating groups should collaborate on an interdisciplinary basis and develop joint research ideas. The first group will be starting as a virtual group in 2020 and will focus on questions related to Social Cohesion. There are plans for a total of three cooperation groups for which the Berlin University Alliance will provide up to 300,000 euros each. The funding is intended to provide financial support for fellows of the centre and their research, as well as to enable summer schools and final conferences. The format is intended to provide maximum organizational flexibility for each cooperation, the structure of which can be chosen by the collaborating groups themselves. Flexible funding opportunities should also promote mobility for researchers and graduate students from Berlin and Oxford working on joint projects.
The Berlin University Alliance is a consortium consisting of three major Berlin universities – Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin – and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, established to shape research and education in Berlin. The four partners joined forces to further develop Berlin as a research hub with international drawing power. Together the partners explore major societal challenges, increase public outreach, promote the training of junior researchers, address issues of quality and standards in research, and share resources in the areas of research infrastructure, teaching, diversity, equal opportunities, and internationalisation.
The Berlin University Alliance is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Berlin under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder. Researchers from at least two of the four partners Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin already work together in all seven Clusters of Excellence based in Berlin, in 70 percent of the partners’ 30 Collaborative Research Centres funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and in more than 75 percent of the partners’ 47 doctoral programmes. Since 2012, researchers within the Berlin University Alliance have won six Leibniz Prizes (the most important research award in Germany) and 55 ERC Grants from the European Research Council.