19 September 2011, No. 26/2011

Winners of the ideas competition ‘Research alumni of universities in Germany’

Aachen, Bayreuth and Heidelberg impress with innovative concepts.

RWTH Aachen and the universities of Bayreuth and Heidelberg are the award winners of the ideas competition ‘Research alumni of universities in Germany’ organised by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The universities of Göttingen and Cologne received non-financial awards. “Virtually no one else had this topic on their agenda until now. Research alumni are naturally the best ambassadors for German research. They have direct access to precisely the people we want to reach, namely the best young researchers in the world. Thanks to the competition, the Humboldt Foundation has generated vital stimulus for this topic,” explained Secretary General Enno Aufderheide.

From a total of 12 submissions, a jury of experts selected the concepts which, as best practice models, promise a particularly active and sustainable cooperation of the universities with their research alumni abroad.
RWTH Aachen wants to expand its alumni work to include opportunities in the area of interdisciplinary continuing education and Web 2.0. With its ‘Shared Alumni’ pilot scheme, it plans to implement the joint maintenance of overlapping contacts with different research and funding institutions. Female research alumnae will serve as role models to help increase the number of women at RWTH.
The University of Bayreuth focuses on regions which are of great importance to the university’s specialist areas and is therefore concentrating its activities in Africa, China and India. Conferences with integrated workshops are to be offered there. The innovative part of the plan is to set up a virtual workplace for international researchers via Cloud Computing.
The University of Heidelberg intends to concentrate on countries where it has a particularly large number of contacts to research alumni, such as India, Italy and the USA. The goal is to organise network meetings in these countries. Sponsorship for renewed research stays is also envisaged as well as an advisory service for research alumni relocating to third countries after their stay in Heidelberg.

With regard to the projects that were not granted financial awards, the University of Göttingen is focusing on extensive electronic facilities for research alumni while the University of Cologne wants to strengthen cooperation with academic hosts by introducing measures such as travel grants.

The award winners will each receive 130,000 EUR to put their concepts into practice. For the award ceremony on 19 January 2012 in Berlin, a publication is being produced containing the best ideas from all proposals received. The universities will have an opportunity to present the experiences gained during the implementation process to an audience of higher education representatives at EURAXESS workshops at the Humboldt Foundation.

The competition

is part of the ‘International Research Marketing’ project that is being jointly conducted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Research Foundation and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It is part of the ‘Research in Germany’ initiative.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 25,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 130 countries worldwide – including 44 Nobel Prize winners.


Kristina Güroff
Regine Laroche
Kerstin Schweichhart
Press, Communications and Marketing
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Georg Scholl
Head of
Press, Communications and Marketing
Tel.: +49 228 833-258
Fax: +49 228 833-441