At Ulm University's Dies academicus, University President Professor Michael Weber reflected on the success of the past few months and pointed out prospects for the University's future. Highlights of the ceremony included an awards show and a presentation on one of the University's greatest successes of the last few years, the new Cluster of Excellence in the field of battery research.
In his welcome address at the Dies academicus, University President Professor Michael Weber proudly announced a record in third-party funding. In 2018, University researchers were able to draw in roughly 105 million euros in funding for their research, more than ever before. "This record serves as further confirmation of the strong standing in research enjoyed by Ulm University and the expertise exhibited by our researchers", Prof Weber stated.
Major successes from the past few months included a funding extension for the trauma-related Collaborative Research Centre 1149 in the amount of roughly 10.6 million euros, as well as a pledge from the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) to set up an Institute of Quantum Technologies (DLR-QT) on the Ulm University campus. Roughly 11 million euros per year have been allocated for operation at DLR-QT, where researchers will be developing precision instruments for aerospace applications based on quantum technology. Possible fields of application include the areas of navigation, earth observation and weather observation. The figure for the 2018 record in third-party funding does not include funding for the DLR-QT institute, nor does it include the University's greatest success, the Cluster for Battery Research, added to the University via the highly-competitive Excellence Strategy. Important projects have also recently been started in the area of teaching. One such project involves customised support for students as they begin their studies. A further new project in cooperation with the Schools of Applied Science in Biberach and Ulm, "Accelerate! SÜD", provides students with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the areas of entrepreneurial activity and self-employment. Around 10,500 students are currently benefitting from these and other offers at Ulm University.
The continued bustle of construction activity on the campus attests to the University's growth. The most eye-catching new feature is the Tram line 2, which directly connects the University with Ulm's city centre. What's more, the rooms for the highly innovative Centre for Quantum and Biosciences (ZQB) are nearly ready for use. During the Dies academicus, President Weber mentioned further construction projects at Ulm University, such as the new partner facility for the German Neurodegenerative Disease Centre (DZNE), approved in 2018, and the future training hospital for medical students, "To Train U". New research facilities are currently in planning for the Cluster of Excellence as well. "Reflecting on our success, we can look into the future with great confidence", remarked University President Professor Weber.
Excellent battery researchers introduce themselves
At the start of the event, Cluster spokespersons from Ulm Professor Maximilian Fichtner and Professor Axel Groß presented the new Cluster of Excellence for battery research entitled POLiS (Post Lithium Storage Cluster of Excellence). The interdisciplinary research project was successful in the Excellence Strategy competition, a programme sponsored by the federal and state governments. The new Cluster of Excellence brings together researchers from Ulm University, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and partners such as the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoffforschung Baden-Württemberg; ZSW). Physicists, chemists and engineers are working side by side on this project to develop powerful and environmentally friendly energy storage solutions that do not rely on the finite supplies of lithium and cobalt, primarily focusing on the areas of electromobility and the energy change. An initial 50 million euros have been allocated for the project over a period of seven years. Deputy cluster spokesperson Professor Axel Groß summarised the researchers' common objective: "We aim to create a basis for new energy storage systems that will surpass the limits of current battery technology". Located in the Ulm Science City, the research centre's surroundings couldn't be any better. The University and the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) stand for basic electrochemical research, while ZSW builds a bridge to areas of practical application, up to and including pilot production. Informative stands and exhibits were set up in the lobby to provide more details about the new research project. Representatives from the above-mentioned partners were on hand, as were representatives from CELEST (Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe), a research platform run in cooperation with KIT which is also involved in the Cluster.