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Large-scale research centers should lead Germany as a location for science and coalfields into the future

Two new large research centers will be established in Saxony in the next few years. With »Knowledge creates perspectives for the region!«, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Free State of Saxony are launching a competition for the content orientation and the development of the centres. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek, the Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, and the Saxon Science Minister, Sebastian Gemkow, launched the ideas competition today, Tuesday.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek explains:
»It is important to me that we actively shape the structural change in the German coal regions and create the basis for new value chains and high-quality jobs locally. Education, research and innovation will help ensure that Lusatia and the central German mining area are well prepared for the post-lignite era and will remain attractive, livable regions.

By 2023, we want to establish two new large-scale research centers with international appeal, which will further strengthen Germany as a location for science and lead Saxony's coalfields into the future. We are looking for the brightest minds with the best ideas. All scientists who have an innovative idea for a new large-scale research center are invited to take part in the competition.

The new research centers alone are expected to create up to 3.000 new jobs in the two regions. The connection of excellent scientific research with innovative concepts for cooperation with the economy creates an attractive environment for start-ups and the settlement of companies - and thus also new perspectives for the people in the coal regions. Within the framework of the Structural Strengthening Act, we are providing coal regions together with the Free State of Saxony up to 170 million euros per center in the long term.

We are taking the first step today with the start of the ideas competition. I appeal to all researchers: Apply and bring your ideas to Saxony.«

The Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer emphasizes:
»The settlement of two new large research centers in the Saxon coal regions is a huge success. The Free State of Bavaria campaigned for this early on and emphatically. Because the research centers create new perspectives and jobs for the time after coal. This will be of decisive help in creating many more well-paid new jobs both in research and in industry in Lusatia and Central Germany. The people in the regions themselves, but also all of Saxony and Germany as a science location, will benefit from this. It's great that the ideas competition is about to start. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the federal government, which, together with us, is driving this project, which is unique in Germany, and providing it with financial security. It's good that we don't mess around here, but rather clog. So we have the great opportunity for a new founding era.«

Saxony's Science Minister Sebastian Gemkow adds:
»The environment for the planned large research centers could hardly be better. Saxony offers excellent opportunities for future research projects - both in the university, non-university and in the economic sector. The scientific institutions with their flexibility and expertise in a variety of subject areas are a decisive locational advantage for the development of the research centers and also for later operation. This allows new scientific findings and innovations to be created, from which new added value can be generated. In the future, not only the coal regions will benefit from this.«


On August 14, 2020, the "Coal Regions Structural Strengthening Act" (StStG) came into force. In order to promote economic growth and the creation of jobs in the regions of the Lausitz and Central German mining areas in Saxony affected by structural change, the StStG provides for the »establishment of a new institutionally funded large research center according to Helmholtz or comparable conditions in the Saxon Lusatia and in the Central German mining area Basis of a competition procedure«. For this purpose, the BMBF and the Free State of Saxony have launched the ideas competition "Knowledge creates perspectives for the region!".

The best concepts for the foundation of the two new large research centers are to be developed and selected in a transparent and open-topic process. The thematic focus and the exact location within the two regions will be determined as part of the competition. In the long term, within the framework of the Structural Strengthening Act - depending on scientific success - financial endowment of the institutions with an annual budget of up to 170 million euros per institution is possible.

The competitive process for selecting the concepts for the new major research centers is divided into three stages:

  1. National and international call for participation in the ideas competition
    With a national and international call, outstanding scientists are asked to submit conceptual sketches of their innovative ideas for the foundation of the new large research centers.
  2. Selection of concept sketches and conception phase
    Based on an examination and recommendation by a high-ranking perspective commission, the ideas that are to be developed into concepts that can be evaluated are selected from the submitted concept sketches. To support this, these sketches will receive funding of up to 500.000 euros for a conception phase of around six months.
  3. Selection of concepts for founding and development phase
    Finally, the concepts for founding the two new large research centers are selected by the sponsors. This is done on the basis of an external appraisal that assesses the scientific excellence of the concepts and the expected contribution to economic structural change and the proposed structures for cooperation with industry.


Internationally renowned scientists who feel compelled to develop and implement an idea for the founding of a large-scale research center in the Lusatian and Central German mining areas in Saxony are invited to submit concept sketches. An existing connection between the applicants and the place where a settlement is planned is not a mandatory requirement for participation in the competition. Further details will be announced on the BMBF topic page when the funding guideline is published.

The process is accompanied by a high-ranking prospects commission with representatives from the fields of science, business, innovation and society. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, former president of the Technical University of Munich and head of the structural commission for the establishment of the Technical University of Nuremberg, will chair the meeting. Other members include the German Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, Stefan Hell, and the first German commander of the International Space Station, Alexander Gerst.

Further information:

Source: Press release of the Saxon state government from November 24.11.2020th, XNUMX

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