© Felix Noak

Berlin University Alliance

TU Berlin in the Consortium of Excellence

Technische Universität Berlin became a University of Excellence in 2019. Together, Frei Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and TU Berlin form the Berlin University Alliance Consortium of Excellence.The Berlin University Alliance is the only consortium to receive funding within the German Excellence Strategy program.

The Berlin University Alliance seeks to transcend the borders between disciplines and institutions to develop a scientific ecosystem within “Brain City Berlin.” To create an integrated research space, the four partners also promote cooperation with other higher education institutions, non-university research institutes, museums, civic and political associations, startups and partners from industry.

Three Clusters of Excellence are located at Technische Universität Berlin - Unifying Systems in Catalysis, Science of Intelligence, and MATH+. As of 2019, these three interdisciplinary research projects are being funded for seven years with an opportunity to extend this financing.

Science-based solutions are needed for the major challenges of our times. As part of its Grand Challenges Initiatives, the Berlin University Alliance is currently funding research on two of these major issues - global health and social cohesion. A special call was also established at short notice in 2020 to conduct research on the coronavirus pandemic. Proposals submitted by scientists at TU Berlin were among the successful applications for research on social cohesion and the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to these grand challenges, the Berlin University Alliance is also committed to and actively involved in multidirectional science communication, ensuring the quality of research and safeguarding open access, inter-institutional use of scientific infrastructures, the advancement of junior scholars and good teaching, as well as gender equality and diversity in science.

Clusters of Excellence at TU Berlin

[Translate to English:] Symbolbild MATH+ © Dominic Simon

MATH+ - How Berlin Mathematics is Shaping the Future

In the MATH+ Cluster of Excellence, scientists develop innovative techniques and theories in application-oriented mathematics. Particular focus is placed on mathematical foundations to use increasingly large data quantities in life and material science, energy and network research, and the humanities and social sciences.

What does the Berlin University Alliance enable us to achieve?

Views from TU Berlin

“The BUA responded without delay to the coronavirus crisis and provided us with a unique opportunity to quickly acquire data about the pandemic. Invaluable data bases were created helping us to better overcome the major challenge posed by a pandemic.”

Professor Dr. Martina Löw, Chair of Sociology and Planning of Architecture

“Provenance research - in other words researching the origin of cultural goods - is not an end in itself; it is work of importance to society. Digital provenance research not only means the digitalization of objects and the documentation of data regarding their previous owners or the circumstances of their translocation or acquisition. Visitors to museums deserve transparency and elucidation regarding the history of the exhibits they consume. It is much more about sharing knowledge, about findability and accessibility, and more than anything it is about making information and research findings understandable, about making usability and communication bilingual or multilingual and widely comprehensible. So I am all the more delighted to be able to introduce a new project together with my colleagues from TU Berlin, HU Berlin, the Museum of Natural History and the Institute for Museum Research. This project will begin next year as part of the first BUA Grand Challenge “Social Cohesion” and will examine the importance of museums as spaces of social cohesion.”

Professor Dr. Meike Hopp, Chair of Digital Provenance

“The ProFiL program was started in 2003 to provide Freie Universtität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Technische Universität Berlin an effective mechanism for helping their female junior scholars obtain professorships. The Berlin University Alliance’s successful application to the Excellence Strategy means we can now develop the ProFiL initiative to contribute more strongly towards achieving greater diversity and equality of opportunity for women in science. I am delighted to be able to coordinate ProFiL’s new English-language program and support the careers of international female scientists with a connection to the three Berlin partner universities and the Charité. 

Dr. habil. Antje Dallmann, coordinator of ProFiL ’s English-language program

“The BUA promotes interdisciplinarity and a broad perspective for research into scientific issues. This has particular added value for issues relating to nourishment, food technology and health, which always have to take account of and link different aspects.

Professor Dr. Cornelia Rauh, Department of Food Biotechnology and Food Process Engineering


“How do processes of social interaction and communication change at a time when we have to maintain distance?” How do community masks and distancing markers change how we communicate? Which problems do we face and what new and creative ways of dealing with them can we find in everyday life? Ten field researchers from the area of sociology throughout Germany are collecting data using a video camera to record and analyze how forms of interaction are changing and how we are dealing with social distancing in everyday situations. The funding provided by the Berlin University Alliance enables us to record the process of the complex change in our everyday communication, a change which has now imperceptibly become routine for us, as well as create an archive of recordings to provide a basis for precise analyses of interaction dynamics.”

Dr. René Tuma, Chair of General Sociology - Theory of Modern Societies

“Since March, we have been gathering data on a daily basis, including weekends, relating to COVID-19 care (hospitalized patients, intensive care bed occupancy, etc.) in 18 European countries. These data are being used by bodies such as the World Health Organization and the European Commission but are also contributing significantly to the global calculations of the Institute for Health Metrics (Global Burden of Disease study). The BUA Corona Pre-Exploration Project enables us to contribute with our work to the development of specific policies, such as the use of intensive care beds in Germany, Europe and the rest of the world.”

Professor Dr. Reinhard Busse, Department of Health Care Management

“The BUA provides me with an extremely broad spectrum of digital and analogue resources, creating an opportunity for interdisciplinary cooperation between the partners. For me, making these resources openly available and usable is one of the goals of the BUA.”

Professor Dr. Sebastian Möller, Quality and Usability Lab


“Crossing Boundaries - towards an integrated research environment"

Personal holding copy of crossing boundaries proposal © Felix Noak

Crossing Boundaries Together

The Berlin University Alliance has been funded under the Excellence Strategy since 1 November 2019. The alliance partners have set themselves the long-term goal of jointly creating and shaping a leading international and integrated research area in Berlin.

Task Force Excellence Strategy