Hamburg Excellence Initiative

More than €7.8 million in funding for research in the fields of Life Sciences and Materials Science

The TUHH emerged successful from the Hamburg State competition for the promotion of excellent basic research. Both projects it submitted in April will receive funding of more than €2 million a year for the next three and a half years. This success in the first round of the State Excellence Initiative improves the TUHH’s chances of participating in the near future in nationwide programs to promote top-rate research.

It is a great result for the TUHH to have both of its proposals funded as part of the state initiative, and a distinction for our scientists,” said TUHH President Professor Dr.-Ing. Edwin Kreuzer. It also showed that with its new policy of focusing on forward-looking fields of research TUHH was on the right path, he added.

Researchers in the Fundamentals for synthetic biological systems cluster are hoping to make a breakthrough in biotechnology by developing more effective processes of producing, for example, chemicals and biopharmaceuticals. Eight TUHH researchers are working in this field with colleagues from the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) at DESY. Their objective is on the one hand to optimize existing metabolic processes and on the other to develop new, synthetic metabolic processes for the biotechnological production of, for instance, new types of medicines or regenerative energy sources. The researchers hope, for example, to make a breakthrough in synthesizing hydrogen from biomass to fuel cars. This establishes a new field of research at TUHH, at the interface of life sciences and engineering, and could revolutionize biotechnology and life sciences altogether. The researchers involved believe that the significance of this new field of research into synthetic system biotechnology is comparable with that of the development of semiconductor technology for electro- and information technology.

The linking of chemistry, biology and engineering sciences in this cluster is unique and will pave the way for a successful application to the next National Excellence Initiative,” said the cluster coordinator, Professor Dr. An-Ping Zeng. Professor Zeng, a bioengineer, is Head of the TUHH Institute for Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering. He is an internationally acknowledged expert in the as yet young discipline of systems biology.

Researchers in the Integrated Material Systems cluster are looking for tailor-made materials for industrial lightweight construction. The objective of this state excellence cluster applied for jointly by the TUHH, the GKSS research centers, DESY, and the University of Hamburg, is to develop completely new kinds of composite materials made from polymers, ceramics and metals. In doing so, nanostructures will be implemented in macroscopic components. The aim is to develop materials with completely new properties, properties that it has so far been impossible to combine, for example extreme hardness with the greatest possible degree of ductile malleability. Such materials would be ideal, for example, for making false teeth. They could also be used in aviation. The coordinator of this cluster project is Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerold Schneider, Head of the Institute for Advanced Ceramics at the TUHH.

Materials and material technologies form the basis of a strong-selling one billion euro industry in Germany. Among the most important branches of industry in the Hamburg metropolitan region and the neighboring federal states of North Germany are the aviation and automotive industries, the wind power industry and the Port of Hamburg, where lightweight structural components play a key role.