3 April 2017: Einstein Center Digital Future inaugurated

Berlin becomes the hotspot of digital research

“With the inauguration of the Einstein Center Digital Future, today, we demonstrate the
remarkable efficiency and innovative capacity of our city. It is also an indication that our
Institutions of science, the business communities and political leaders are moving together in
the same direction in their effort to transforming the Brain City Berlin into an internationally
leading hotspot of digitalization”, Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller said at the official
inauguration of the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) in the forenoon of 3 April 2017 in the
Robert Koch Forum in Wilhelmstrasse 67 in Berlin-Mitte. In effect, 50 new professorships will
be established in the core area of digital infrastructure, methods and algorithms, including the
innovation areas such as digital health, digital society and humanities and digital industry and
services. A total of 38.5 million euros will flow into the project.

Representing the applicant institutions, namely Berlin University of the Arts and Humboldt
University of Berlin and Free University of Berlin along with the joint faculty of the Charité –
Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, president of the representative
institution Technical University of Berlin stated: “Within the shortest possible time, we have
accomplished a project that is already getting a lot of attention internationally. Digitalization is
fast, diverse, though menacing for some, it is full of opportunities. With our Einstein Center, we
intend to find answers at the interfacing of disciplines and, we wish to provide a contact point to
citizens which will allow them to know the effects of digitalization, to take part in it and to
discuss their concerns with our scientists. I am quite proud that many of Berlin’s institutions
are pulling together in the same direction. I also thank the policies that have laid out many
paths for us. This project of Berlin will be a precedent for others and a fine example of our
common goals in sciences.” The president of the Einstein Foundation Berlin, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.
Günter Stock underlined the new opportunities offered by the ECDF in terms of a direct
transformation of an “invention into innovation.” At the same time, he also emphasized the
elemental responsibility of the public engagement which the Einstein Center Digital Future will
fulfil: we will be developing new forms for assimilating people who indirectly and constantly
deal with the topics of our research strategies, who nonetheless need to be involved in the
journey into a digital future. Because it is a future not only for us in the field of research or, for
those in the industry, but it is also a journey for our general public”, as Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Günter
Stock averred.

Public private Partnership

The board’s spokesperson of the new center, Prof. Dr. Odej Kao of the TU Berlin, remembered
in his address: “Exactly 588 days have gone by since we got together for the first time on 24
August 2015 and the idea of a Public privat Partnership model was born. We have collected
38.5 million euros and created with this building an outstanding symbol for the Digital Agenda
of Berlin. We have understood the nature of digitalization as a network. Our scientific program
relies on exchange of ideas between the core methods of the IT and the fields of innovation in
digital health, digital humanities and culture und digital industry and services. Our governance
takes into account these different cultures and angles of vision and makes sure that the
available means flow exclusively into interdisciplinary projects.”

So far, the magnitude of alliance between public bodies and donors and supporters is unique
for the scientific location of Berlin. This project has been made possible by a number of
partners from the business, the sciences and politics. So also, eight non-university research
institutions are involved in the ECDF: the Berlin Institute of Health, the Fraunhofer Institute
FOKUS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications – Heinrich-Hertz Institute, the
Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Micro-integration, the German Aerospace Center, the
Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Society, the Physical Technical
Federal Agency and the Konrad-Zuse Center for Information Technology Berlin. Similarly, the
consortium includes also the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Federal
Ministry of Education and Research, each funding a professorship. The research institutions
are providing 8.5 million euros towards the joint callings with the universities. The State of
Berlin, too, is strongly committed to this. It contributes 50 Cents additionally for every euro
raised from companies.

The inauguration event was accompanied by an exhibition that enabled visitors to experience
the visions of the ECDF. A selection of participating research projects, companies and startups
presented their ideas of digital future: animated dinosaurs ran through the premises,
printed-out cardiac valves were seen, using 3D glasses people were able to peek into the
insides of the human body and intelligent clothing alerted people against sudden occurrence of
hazardous situations.

First callings already initiated

In response to invitations for professorships so far, the ECDF received 300 applications from
over 70 countries. In fact, a junior professorship has already been taken up by Dr. Florian
Tschorsch and the visiting professorship by Prof. Jochen Rabe. “On average, this process will
take one year, but we have reduced it to just five months”, Prof. Kao revealed. At this point of
time, as many as 32 of the envisaged 50 new professorships have been already advertised.

The Einstein Center Digital Future has an intended term of six years. The first promotional
phase will run from 1 April, 2017 to 31 March, 2020 and, if the interim evaluation in 2018 turns
out to be successful, the second phase will run from 1 April, 2020 to 31 March, 2023. Most of
the 50 professorships will be advertised as junior professorships with a term of six years. Also,
W2/W3 professorships and a visiting professorship will be instituted. Two major concerns are
to acquire, as much as possible, many lady scientists for the professorships and to perpetuate
a part of the professorships financed by private and industrial funds. About 20 companies are
taking part in the Einstein Center Digital Future and a total of 12 million euros flow into
financing the professorships. Among others, the contributing companies include Berlin’s water
works, Cornelsen, German-Turkish Advanced ICT Research Center, Intel, SAP, Telekom and
Viessmann.

The Einstein Center Digital Future views itself to be a nucleus for research work and promotion
of digital structures in sciences, economy and society operating across universities. Instead of
new isolated initiatives, the intention behind the project in Berlin is to establish more alliances,
new forms of collaborations, and to concentrate on innovative interdisciplinary cutting-edge
research and on excellently trained young scientific talent. For example, the research work is
envisaged to be undertaken in the fields of Smart Housing, Smart Cities, Smart Mobility, Digital
Education, Bio-informatics, Personalized Medicine, Digital Diagnostics and new methods of
genome data analysis, bio-medical imaging processing and semantic data intelligence, identity
management, physical principles of the IT security, Internet of the things or Wearable
Technologies. Even topics such as water and waste water systems 4.0, digitalization and world
of work, including digitalization and multicultural aspects have a part to play.

Spokesperson for the ECDF is Prof. Dr. Odej Kao of TU Berlin, while Prof. Dr. Erwin Böttinger
of Berlin’s Institute of Health Research is the spokesperson of the department of Digital
Health. Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost, Berlin University of the Arts, is the spokesperson for the
department of Digital Society and Humanities, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jochen Schiller of Free University
of Berlin is the spokesperson of the department of Digital Industry and Services. Prof. Ph. D.
Johann-Christoph Freytag of Humboldt University of Berlin is the spokesperson of the
department of Digital Infrastructure, Methods and Algorithms.