Forum "Experiment!" 2018

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Herrenhausen Palace
Professional audience

The funding initiative "Experiment!" is celebrating its 5th birthday. On this occasion grantees and alumni are invited to present their findings on bold research ideas at the Forum Experiment!.

The funding initiative 'Experiment!' supports radically new topics and approaches in science, engineering and in the life sciences. (Illustration: Nicolás Aznárez für VolkswagenStiftung)
The funding initiative 'Experiment!' supports radically new topics and approaches in science, engineering and in the life sciences. (Illustration: Nicolás Aznárez für VolkswagenStiftung)

This years forum is again a platform for all actual Experiment! grantees and is at the same time looking back on five years of Experiment! funding. The timing of this event has been chosen such that the currently running grants (awarded in 2016) are approaching their end. Thus, some preliminary data and results have been achieved and will be presented in 18 talks. We are glad that alumni from the previous calls in 2013, 2014, and 2015 have accepted our invitation and will share their subsequent experiences in lightning talks and a poster session.

In the audience are recent and former grantees, jury members, and Foundation staff coming from various subject areas in the life sciences, sciences and engineering. They are united by a common interest in high risk topics. All are curious to learn from each other about the achievements, surprises and (un)foreseen difficulties which were encountered during the exploratory work undertaken. In the Experiment! initiative failure with respect to reaching the original aim is not considered negative but a valuable learning experience which can bring science forward, too. Therefore, all speakers are encouraged to not only focus on the highlights but to mention disappointments and lowlights as well.

The broad mix of topics is quite unusual for a scientific workshop and gives an exciting opportunity to share and discuss results, open questions and opinions beyond the borders of ones own academic disciplines. Back in 2016 the 18 grants out of 544 proposals have been awarded after two distinct selection steps: first a shortlisting, second a double-blind review. These are the topics in alphabetical order:

  • A new class of smart materials: Switching strength for future´s safety
  • A quantum beat for life
  • Autophagy and the Cambrian origins of biomineralised animal diversity
  • CLINGON: Computer Linguistics of Olfaction 
  • Direct magnetic resonance imaging using a magneto-inductive lens and microcoils
  • Do Ultraphosphates Occur in Biology?
  • Engineering cellular geometry: master key for phenotype stability in the repair of musculoskeletal tissue defects
  • Improved vaccines using mosquito transmittable blood stage attenuated malaria parasites
  • Making sense of sensing: Identification of bat-specific nucleic acid sensors
  • Mucus-like self-regenerating hydrogels (MucoGel)
  • Radical collagen
  • Seeing atoms in biological materials - a new frontier for atomic-scale tomography
  • Subcycle nonlinear spectroscopy
  • Super-Tat for elimination of HIV/AIDS
  • Towards a synthetic neurobiology of hybrid neuronal circuits
  • Uploading data to the brain
  • World's first artificial trachea model

More information on these projects can be found on the Foundations website under Funding: Grants Awarded (Project-Persons-Search).

BACKGROUND

The funding initiative Experiment! was started in November 2012. The initiative is very popular with scientists: On average more than 500 applications are submitted per yearly call. In five rounds 96 out of 2900 proposals have been funded. A partially randomized selection (i. e. additional decision by lot) was introduced in 2017 and is the subject of accompanying research undertaken by EVACONSULT, Berlin.