Bavarian Research Associations

Strong research collaborations with experts from politics and industry

Bavarian Research Associations (Bayerische Forschungsverbünde) are research projects which involve researchers at several locations in Bavaria and usually last for three or six years. Research Associations are set up in response to contemporary affairs or as a direct investment in the future to secure Bavaria’s strength in research and industry. They also involve partners from industry who are actively involved in research in addition to providing funding. The private public partnership ensures that the results of the research are quickly put into practice. Public funding is provided by the Bavarian Research Foundation and the Bavarian Ministries, in particular the Bavarian Ministry for Education, Science and the Arts.

Current Research Associations

Advances in digitalisation are changing many aspects of our lives, offering on the one hand valuable opportunities for a higher quality of life, revolutionary business models and more efficient business operations. On the other hand, however, small and medium-sized companies (SME) may struggle with the increased need for support and advice this brings. According to a survey of high-ranking decision makers in 1,061 companies, only 7% of companies in Germany are considered ‘digital pioneers’. And yet it is not only large companies which can benefit greatly from an early implementation of digitalisation in product development. By embracing digital engineering processes, small and medium sized enterprises can unlock considerable potential for boosting their efficiency and competitiveness.

The benefits of digitalisation in service-related processes or in manufacturing are quickly apparent, but a number of decisive advantages over procedures currently used in the mechanical engineering sector can also be obtained by integrating digital engineering processes into the research and development departments of industrial companies. It is crucial to ensure that methods along the entire product development process are supplied with data, requirements are passed on along the entire tool chain and ways are found to link various methods as efficiently as possible.

The motivation behind this research network is to develop a continuous digital engineering process adapted to the development of electric powertrains for SMEs and to transfer the potential of digitalisation to business processes in research and development.  In order to do so, methods during the product development process need to be optimised and linked on the basis of data and machine learning algorithms. In addition, the developed processes must be transferable to other challenges that arise during product development and implemented accordingly or identified in a usability study.

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Digitalisation is fundamentally changing our society and our individual lives and involves both opportunities and risks for our health. In some cases, how we use digital technologies and media leads to negative stress (distress), burnout, depression and other health risks. On the other hand, stress can also have a positive and constructive effect (eustress), which should be promoted. Technology is now so far advanced that digital technologies and media can keep track of and promote the health of their users thanks to increasing levels of artificial intelligence, adaptivity and interactivity.

The aim of the ForDigitHealth research association is to analyse the health effects of the increased presence and intense use of digital technologies and media in their many forms – in particular how digital distress and eustress arise and their implications – as well as to develop and evaluate options for prevention and intervention. In doing so, the research association will contribute to appropriate, conscious, individual and collective use of digital technology and media that promotes health.

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The human brain has a complicated architecture of diverse and specialised cells, like neurons, glial and microglial cells. These cells form functional and dynamic circuits and their interaction is of fundamental importance for the various functions of the human brain.
Many questions about the role of various cells for the function of the brain both in healthy individuals and during illness still remain unanswered. The Bavarian Research Association ForInter aims to investigate the interaction of various types of cells in the human brain in multi-dimensional cell culture systems based on the following hypothesis.

Defined human cell-cell systems are capable of modelling physiological and pathological interactions in the human brain.
The achievements in biology and stem cell research of the last few years have laid the foundation for the generation of multidimensional cell-culture systems and 3D brain organoids (mini-brains) that promise new insights into structural and dynamic interactions. As a model, they allow the investigation of normal human physiology in brain development and pathological processes.

ForInter brings together researchers in neurology with expertise in fundamental biology and human stem cell biology, neuropathologists, and translational neurologists. Additionally, researchers in bioinformatics as well as in the field of ethics and law contribute their expertise in this interdisciplinary network.

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Geothermal energy is an important domestic source of energy suitable for covering base load demand. However, its potential has been largely overlooked until now. If we are to continue increasing the acceptance, economic viability and safety of this technology, an interdisciplinary approach to research is required with which the potential of geothermal energy can be exploited as efficiently and intelligently as possible, across all regions and throughout the seasons. Secure long-term funding is also required if we are to continue benefiting from these resources in the future.

Bavaria is a pioneer within Germany when it comes to using deep geothermal energy. However, until now its application has been restricted to the Munich area and parts of Upper and Lower Bavaria, where information was already available on the properties of the deep geological substratum after seismic and drilling data were collected for the purpose of exploring hydrocarbon deposits. The potential of the crystalline areas of Northern Bavaria as a source of deep geothermal energy has not yet been exploited at all. Little has been done to investigate the substratum and its properties in Northern Bavaria, and no deep exploratory drilling has been conducted for geothermal pilot projects. The situation is compounded by the fact that different methods are required to use deep geothermal energy from crystalline layers, and this technology is still at the early stages of development.

The metropolitan area of Munich clearly demonstrates the benefits of deep geothermal energy sources, especially when it comes to providing heating to large urban areas. One way of making a greater contribution to reducing the dependence of district heating on fossil fuels at the same time as increasing the utilisation of existing geothermal plants would be to coordinate heat sources and heat sinks better and connect them over larger distances. To date, it has not always been possible to make accurate predictions about the chances of finding heat sources and their potential productivity in certain areas of Bavaria. We must continue to find and raise awareness of feasible ways for incorporating this new technology into the existing energy system.

Geothermal Alliance Bavaria (Geothermie-Allianz Bayern – GAB) is a collaborative research project between Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Technische Universität München (TUM) and Universität Bayreuth (UBT) which was formed in 2016, and which welcomed two new members Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and Hochschule München (HSM) when the second phase of funding was launched in 2020. The Munich School of Engineering (MSE) at TUM coordinates the project. It is responsible for centralised administrative tasks, as well as liaising between the various partner universities and operators of geothermal power plants and the general public.

The overriding goal of the Geothermal Alliance Bavaria is to bolster deep geothermal energy as a domestic source of energy and to significantly improve the climate footprint of the heating and electricity sectors. With its interdisciplinary research focus, GAB hopes to spotlight the opportunities and risks of the technology, as well as to find solutions to obstacles hindering the expansion of deep geothermal energy as a renewable energy source. At the same time, it hopes to expand the extent to which deep geothermal energy is used, make it more cost-effective, manage the reservoir sustainably and ensure that operations are safe. Geothermal resources ought to be explored and used as far as possible in all areas and tailored to meet the needs in each specific instance, taking the potential above and below ground into account. For this purpose, the deeper substratum and the geothermal resources of Northern Bavaria which have until now only been investigated sporadically will be analysed systematically. The Geothermal Alliance Bavaria is pursuing its aims in the following sub-projects:

  • Sub-project: ‘efficient. Heat transition through the intelligent use of deep geothermal energy’ (TUM, UBT, HSM)
  • Sub-project: ‘regional. Systematic exploration of new potentials’ (FAU, UBT, TUM)
  • Sub-project: ‘social. Climate protection through a safe technology’ (TUM, LMU, UBT)
  • Sub-project: “long-term. Sustainable thermal water production’ (TUM, FAU)
  • Sub-project: Joint Master’s degree programme in GeoThermics/GeoEnergy (FAU, TUM, LMU)

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Link to website of the Chair of Geology