Collaborative research in Bavaria
Strong research collaborations with experts from politics and industry
Bavarian Research Associations
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.
BayKlimaFit 2 – Strong plants mitigating the impact of climate change
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges faced by the human race – a global phenomenon with consequences on a regional level. Successful and sustainable climate policy is based on scientific findings and applied research relevant to issues currently facing our climate. The Department of Biology and the Chair of Biochemistry at FAU are contributing their own research in this area.
From 2016 to 2019, the BayKlimaFit 1 project investigated how crop plants in Bavaria can adapt to climate change. The project focused on breeding plants that have improved tolerance against changing environmental conditions. The research is now being continued in the BayKlimaFit 2 project to develop solutions from the initial project.
BayKlimaFit 2 – ‘Strong plants mitigating the impact of climate change’ is conducting research in 10 projects on the following topics:
- High-quality and climate-resilient plants
- Healthy plants during climate change
- Efficient plant cultivation despite climate stress
The Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection is funding the research project for a period of three years.
BayUFP – Measuring, characterising and analysing ultrafine particles
Particulate matter is a health hazard. Scientific proof that this is the case has been available since the mid 1990s. However, scientists have been unsure whether ultrafine particles, the smallest components of particulate matter, constitute an additional risk factor in their own right. This is the topic that the Bavarian project BayUFP – ‘Measuring, characterising and analysing ultrafine particles’ is now researching, financed by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection. The network focuses on measuring techniques, chemical characterisation, molecular mechanisms, toxicology and epidemiology.
It is hoped that this joint, coordinated research will make a significant contribution to closing existing gaps in research and thereby to protecting and safeguarding the health of the Bavarian population, now and in the future.
FORCuDE@BEV – Customized Digital Engineering
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.
ForDigitHealth – Healthy relationship with digital technology and media
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.
ForInter – Bavarian Research Association: Interaction of Human Brain Cells
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.
SHIELD - safe regional organic and conventional foodstuffs using a sensor-based detection procedure
The research association aims to ensure food safety along the value chain using rapid and efficient detection methods which can accurately detect damaged or rotten products along the process chain. Automated data analysis will improve digital traceability along the value chain and improve the safety and quality of foodstuffs by optimizing logistics.
At present, 53% of foodstuffs are lost along the entire value chain in the case of conventional agriculture and 56% in organic agriculture. Reducing food loss while maintaining food safety is therefore an important goal for society. Requirements for food quality and their definition are many-faceted and are not only dependent on consumers and their expectations, but also on plans and strategies for how the foodstuffs are to be used or processed further.
The guiding idea behind this project is to analyze the quality and safety of raw materials at the point of acceptance, to establish methods to prove the authenticity of raw materials and the foodstuffs that are produced, to draw up quality prognoses, and to optimize logistics chains in order to address the actual requirements of the food industry and consumers.
The project will take a holistic and interdisciplinary approach and focus on three areas:
- Needs analysis
- Quality assurance for foodstuffs
- Storage and logistics.
The over-riding goal is to find an accurate method to determine the quality of organic and conventional raw materials along the food supply chain that will allow them to be made available for further processing or entered into the retail supply chain without incurring excessive food waste. The various methods to be considered include sensor technologies, optical methods and intelligent algorithms that can also be used in small businesses via handheld devices and smart software. These practical devices will be based on authentic samples from industrial partners, followed by the identification and definition of the relevant key performance indicators using high-performance analytics or using data to develop corresponding algorithms.
In addition, the actual requirements for solutions for safe local organic food will be based on as representative a number as possible of the total of 4,500 organic companies in Bavaria. This is a crucial aspect in order to ensure that the knowledge gained during the project and its findings can be subsequently put to good use within these companies.
Interest in becoming involved in the project run by the research association SHIELD is high throughout industry. The companies involved are either purely organic companies (such as Kartoffelkombinat, HiPP, Kloster Plankstetten), mixed operations that produce and sell both organic products and conventional products (e.g. Burgis, Franken-Gemüse, Lebkuchen Schmidt) or companies that are not able to operate organically due to the sector they are involved in (e.g. the company Singer und Sohn, mechanical engineering). The industrial partners take an active part in the project by providing their expertise and suitable problem datasets and validating the results generated by the scientific partners.
Other research projects “Made in Bavaria”
The Bavarian government provides support to the State of Bavaria as a key location for research in several specific fields. On the one hand, project applications are selected and approved in multi-stage procedures on the basis of specific calls for applications (for example in the Bavarian Collaborative Research Program) and ideas for projects on current issues are proactively supported by Bavarian ministries on the other.
Some of the most significant projects are listed and described briefly below:
GAB 2.0 - Geothermal Alliance Bavaria
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)
In all areas of breast cancer care, it makes sense to combine digital and real-world care structures that cover prevention, screening, therapy, and follow-up. In the process, we need to protect digital sovereignty and focus on benefits to the individual.
The aim of the digiOnko project, which is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care, is to optimize all areas of breast cancer care through new, digital concepts. The project will establish inpatient and outpatient early detection programs that support individualized information and access to innovative screening measures and biomarker examinations. Patients undergoing breast cancer therapy have the opportunity to use a digital home healthcare center (an app developed as part of the project) and can independently record ECG, blood counts or blood glucose measurements from the comfort of their home, as well as independently documenting any side effects and impact of therapy on their quality of life. Using the app, patients can access 24-hour monitoring and communication in a private and secure environment. Large clinical data sets based on image data, histological or even genetic data are also used to establish new personalized risk assessments and therapy decisions by means of artificial intelligence (AI) improving individualized prevention, therapy and relapse prevention in the long term.
DigiOnko website: www.digionko-bayern.de
Munich Quantum Valley
Quantum computers open up a whole range of completely new opportunities in data and information processing, since their computing power significantly exceeds conventional computer architectures. The Munich Quantum Valley Project develops quantum computers using two complimentary technologies: superconducting quantum circuits and trapped-ion systems with the aim of making these quantum computers accessible to users via a shared cloud environment. The Department of Physics and the Department of Electrical Engineering at FAU are contributing to the project in the areas of algorithm development, processor design, control strategies and control electronics for quantum computers.
The Munich Quantum Valley Project is being funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts from October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2024.