Helmholtz Pioneer Campus – two years in the making

The Helmholtz Pioneer Campus (HPC) derived from the ambitions of Helmholtz Munich Executives and the HPC Directors to transform the way research is performed and to inspire a new scientific culture: away from pure discovery towards the engineering of medical solutions by innovating at the intersection of bioengineering, biomedicine and bioinformatics.

The Pioneer Campus concept addresses eminent challenges faced by researchers, particularly during their most creative and most vulnerable starting period. All of which have led to a steady rise in the age when researchers turn fully independent and scientifically productive, as well as receive their first larger grants:

  • the continuous pressure to secure grant-based funding
  • often time-consuming administrative and teaching obligations
  • specialized work environments that often lack opportunities for interdisciplinary work.

To remove these roadblocks and to empower scientists to focus on what matters to them most, the Helmholtz Munich founded the Pioneer Campus to provide exceptional, technology-driven scientists with the freedom and support, to execute their ground-breaking ideas:

  • receive start-up funds to securely establish and run their lab for at least 5 years (and potential development within Helmholtz Munich)
  • no teaching or grant writing obligations
  • scientific and organizational independence
  • benefit from access to core facilities
  • opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration (within and beyond the Helmholtz Munich)
  • support from a dedicated administrative team to set up/run their labs and focus on science

Launched in 2017, HPC has recruited seven Pioneer teams, originating from renowned institutions such as EMBL/EBI (UK), MIT (USA), ETH (Switzerland) or the MPI for Biochemistry (Germany). With an average PI age of 36, and a total staff of 50 hailing from 15 different countries, HPC-scientists already delivered a number of high-impact publications, patent applications and won first reputed grants.

HPC’s groundbreaking potential has been recognized by the German and Bavarian Ministries of Education, the Helmholtz Association, and Helmholtz Munich, as reflected in the financial support HPC has received to build a state-of the art, highly flexible research building. Scheduled to open in 2022, the foundation stone ceremony took place on September 3rd, 2019 in the presence of the Bavarian Prime Minister, Dr. Markus Söder; the Director General - Life Science Division at Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Chairwoman of the HMGU Supervisory Board Prof. Dr. Veronika von Messling; and the Vice President of the Research Area Health at the Helmholtz Association, Prof. Dr. Dirk Heinz.