The partnership will build on existing research links involving the five universities and create an environment for forging new projects in medicine, the sciences, humanities and social sciences among all partners. The agreement will provide a platform for Oxford academics and researchers to spend time in Berlin, collaborating with colleagues in the Charité teaching hospital, and the three Berlin universities, as well as the many other research institutes within the Berlin-Brandenburg region. At the same time, the partnership will provide support for academics, researchers and students from Berlin to spend time in Oxford’s departments and colleges.
It is anticipated that the initiative will later include the establishment of an Oxford-Berlin Research Centre located in Berlin, and a reciprocal Berliner Haus in Oxford.
Although the 2016 referendum vote means that the UK will leave the European Union, Oxford is determined to remain connected with Europe and its European partners, and to ensure that its rich and rewarding collaborations with European colleagues continue. Oxford academics will be able to develop new research projects and partnerships in association with colleagues in Berlin, which may be eligible for common funding from both British and German foundations and funding agencies.
The five partners have been discussing the proposed collaboration since early 2017. It will take longstanding research relationships to a unique institutional level, marking the first common agreement of all four Berlin institutions with an international partner. In addition, Oxford’s experience in knowledge transfer and philanthropic fundraising should enable the development of new funding streams for the Berlin institutions.
Today’s announcement was made following the signing of a memorandum of understanding to establish the collaboration. The initiative has the full support of the Mayor and Senate of Berlin. The five institutions have already begun a programme of academic workshops across several disciplines, which will be followed by further collaborative work between academics across all four Berlin partners and all four Oxford University academic divisions.
The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, said, “Today marks nothing less than the beginning of a new era of cooperation for Berlin and Oxford. By teaming up, our universities are creating a unique alliance and leading the way in shaping the future of European research. I am happy to support the establishment of an Oxford-Berlin Research Center and look forward to continuing our dialogue in Berlin. This initiative will further cement our city’s position as one of the world’s premier locations for research and innovation.
Professor Louise Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said “Although the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, it is not leaving Europe. This research partnership, involving some of the very best research institutions in Europe, is intended to build on Oxford’s wide-ranging participation in cutting-edge European research. We are deeply grateful to the Mayor of Berlin, Herr Müller, and to the leaders of the four Berlin institutions, for working with Oxford on this exciting opportunity.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Prof. Dr. Karl Max Einhäupl, said “In times of European uncertainty, it is of paramount importance that scientific research continues to thrive beyond national boundaries. Our partnership with the University of Oxford heralds a new era of academic international cooperation and marks a paradigm shift within the global scientific community.”
The President of the Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, said “For both the Berlin University Alliance and for Freie Universität Berlin as Germany’s “International Network University”, this strategic research partnership with the University of Oxford is a mile stone with respect to international relations. We are delighted to be a co-founder of this exciting endeavour between two international centers of cutting-edge scholarship. I am sure that this partnership will bring mutual benefits for all involved parties and across the entire range of academic disciplines.”
The President of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst, said:
“We have acquired a highly prestigious partner in the University of Oxford, with whom we are connected through a vast range of pre-existing contacts. Through collaboration with a top British university, we hope to put together a targeted collective strategy in order to circumvent any possible consequences of Brexit. With the establishment of this partnership come new exciting opportunities for collaboration and exchange with one of the world’s best universities. This undoubtedly benefits both Berlin as a centre for research as well as the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.”
The President of the Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, said "I am delighted that we have successfully established a strategic partnership with the University of Oxford, one of the world's most renowned universities. What distinguishes TU Berlin is its close alliance of natural sciences and engineering with social sciences and humanities. We can contribute our expertise here to this newly-formed strategic partnership and develop our existing contacts to the University of Oxford in areas such as mathematics, entrepreneurship and robotics. The cooperation of five partners, each contributing their own areas of specialisation, presents us with a unique opportunity to jointly develop future areas of collaboration. I believe this will provide a new impetus for research in Berlin."
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