How the Volkswagen Foundation brings innovation to research funding

28 May 2024 | News

The foundation’s deputy secretary general Henrike Hartmann walks us through its priorities and experimental approaches to funding

Henrike Hartmann, deputy secretary general of the Foundation. Photo credits: Nico Herzog / VolkswagenStiftung

The Volkswagen Foundation doesn’t just fund risky-friendly science, it’s bringing risk-taking to research funding too.

“We want to support risk. We want to cross boundaries in many different ways, but also make sure that there's structural change and sustainability in terms of what we do,” Henrike Hartmann, deputy secretary general of the Foundation, tells Science|Business.

The Volkswagen Foundation, Germany’s largest private research fund, is a separate entity from the Volkswagen automotive company. It was set up after the Second World War using the proceeds earned from the company going public.  

Every year the foundation spends €100 million to €110 million on research in Germany and abroad, in…