The Helmholtz Association
The DKFZ is a proud member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. This association is Germany’s largest scientific organization and has an annual budget of approximately 2.4 billion euros. The German federal and state authorities provide about 70% of its total budget. The 15 research centers belonging under the Association’s umbrella employ 28,000 people, including over 4,000 graduate students, and are legally independent bodies. These centers are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including large-scale scientific facilities and instruments that are only to be found on their sites.
The Helmholtz Association stands for cutting-edge research, the goal of which is to contribute significantly to solving the greatest challenges facing science, society and industry. Its research focuses on six fields: energy; earth and environment; health; key technologies; structure of matter plus aeronautics; and space and transport. Networks play a key role and Helmholtz scientists work with each other and external partners across disciplines, organizations and Germany’s borders.
The Association is named after Hermann von Helmholtz, a distinguished natural scientist of the 19th century. Von Helmholtz was one of the last truly universal scholars, specializing in a natural science that bridged the fields of medicine, physics and chemistry. His groundbreaking work brought together theory, experimental and practical applications. He was the founder and first president of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (PTR), considered to be the world’s first scientific research institution outside the university sector.
The Helmholtz Association was formed in 1958 as a working committee for administrative and operational affairs in German reactor control stations. Initially, the goal was to exchange experiences relevant to operational and safety issues. During the next 40 years, this loose community of research centers expanded to discuss other issues such as patents management, strategy and other areas of research. In 2007, the Association’s scientific research resulted in 12,617 scientific publications. During the same year, more than 4000 foreign scientists came to its centers to do research. Transferring scientific knowledge into innovation and then to the market is something that the Association excels at. Some 400 new patents are registered every year and there are currently more than 2,500 joint projects with industry.