When one thinks of Berlin the first thing that comes to mind is its multicultural scene, booming with artists and musicians from all over the world. With over 3.5 million inhabitants, the German capital has made an international name for diversity, equality and cooperation.
In the past years, Berlin has also been a home for entrepreneurs and young tech wizards, becoming the San Francisco of central Europe. The exciting research and innovation emerging from these communities highlights a long-standing tradition for science and academia, which is integral to the city and promoted by institutions such as The Einstein Foundation Berlin. Innovative Einstein centers, specialised in different fields including innovative disciplines such as neuroscience and regenerative medicine have popped up around Berlin since 2009 facilitating cooperation between universities and non-academic institutions.
With no tuition fees at state universities, Berlin offers the space for young people and ideas to collide; for freedom to create and the economic facilities to put innovative ideas into practice. More than 187,000 students are currently enrolled across over 1000 programmes in Berlin’s top-notch educational institutions including two universities of excellence: Freie Universität and Humboldt Universität.
Berlin is currently a hotspot for new technologies, such as digitalisation. For example, the Einstein Center for Digital Future, developed in cooperation with the state of Berlin, universities and industry partners, is investigating the ways we communicate and research to provide new avenues of research and scientific thinking. Another emerging area within the academic community in Berlin is medical research. Berlin’s Charité has played a key role in in medical history as it was associated with many Nobel Prize discoveries, and continues to be the largest university hospital in Germany.
One of the most interesting traits of academia in Berlin is an exciting interdisciplinarity. In the past decades, the German spirit for cooperation has extended from politics to academia, encouraging close multidisciplinary collaboration across science and humanities and allowing for impossible projects to happen.
Knowledge transfer is not only encouraged through academic networks and research groups but also through spatial proximity. For example, many museums are also research institutions, working closely with the universities and embedding creativity and innovation in their programming. The city also has a passion for democratising knowledge, and keeping open to its citizens with public lectures, festivals and free exhibitions. For example, the Berlin Science Week, amongst many other public events, is an excellent opportunity to be in touch with upcoming research and discuss new findings with researchers from around the world.
The city’s state universities employ about 48,000 people, 16% of them being international academics. The numerous spin offs and start-ups coming straight out of its universities have already created over 60.000 jobs, situating Berlin as one of the most popular cities in Europe to host start-ups. It is estimated that every 20 hours a new start up is founded in Berlin, facilitated by a functioning funding infrastructure and countless opportunities for networking with institutions, companies and other international entrepreneurs.
Throughout this section of the magazine we have highlighted some of the most exciting projects currently taking place in the German capital across its institutions and universities. From materials research to humanoid robots and smart mobility, these stories of interdisciplinary collaboration prove the point that Berlin is really the place to be today for maverick entrepreneurs, outsiders and out-of-the-box thinkers.
full article in PLASMA magazine 5, out now!