Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, and the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Science, Research and the Arts, Prof. Dr. Peter Frankenberg, signed the administrative agreement on the merger of the Karlsruhe Research Centre and the University of Karlsruhe on 30 July 2009.
"Political objectives for research seek to increase the responsibility of science institutions and overcoming rigid structures," said the Federal Research Minister, speaking at a press conference presenting the establishment of the KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology). "The close co-operation of universities and non-university research institutions can provide new answers to current scientific challenges and in the global competition for the best brains," added Professor Frankenberg. The two ministers agree that the strength of Germany as a research location lies in overcoming the pillarisation and in the presence of a broad range of systems.
"Over the last few months, the German and Baden-Württemberg governments have created a new framework wherein KIT is able to develop its strengths in a joint concept," explained Schavan. Since there will be joint bodies, merged organisational units and coordinated research, the KIT will plan joint scientific focal areas, jointly appoint lecturers and professors and be able to establish an administration that promotes innovation. "A great opportunity can be found here in enhancing the international competitiveness of KIT in attracting excellent up-and-coming researchers," said Frankenberg. Many young German scientists decide to continue their professional careers at research institutions outside of Germany, where they find an outstanding environment that provides them with desired scope to carry out independent research. With its thematic priorities, multidisciplinarity and size, the KIT now offers excellent conditions that are comparable with those available internationally.
The KIT is a pioneer in terms of scientific freedom. With the new legal construct, the German and Baden-Württemberg governments will follow their intention of increasing KIT's responsibilities, an area which will also remain important after the establishment of the KIT. The administrative agreement foresees another significant change, in which the KIT itself will become the employer of its staff as well as be responsible for the assets of the university and the large-scale research institution.
With the KIT, the German and Baden-Württemberg governments are creating a completely new type of co-operation between a university and non-university research institution in German science, enabling the KIT to become a top-class research institution on an international level. Being established as a public corporation under Baden-Württemberg law and state organisation, KIT fulfils two missions: it is a state university as well as a non-university large-scale research institution within the Helmholtz Association. The merger of a university and non-university research institution is a world first. With approximately 8,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately €700 million, the KIT is the largest German research institution. It is envisaged that it will become the leading centre of energy research in Europe.