Schachfigur "Pferd"

In 2023, the state of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation will launch the new funding program for cutting-edge research and teaching in Lower Saxony.

Funding for top-level research and teaching in Lower Saxony is getting a new programmatic focus: zukunft.niedersachsen (formerly: Niedersächsisches Vorab). On February 8, 2023, the concept was presented to the public jointly by Lower Saxony's Minister of Science and Culture, the Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation and the President of the State University Conference of Lower Saxony.

The relaunch of the funding program was made financially possible by additional funds of almost 580 million euros in special dividends from Porsche AG's IPO. If one adds the income on Volkswagen AG shares, especially dividends, which will continue to be granted each year by the Volkswagen Foundation for the promotion of science and teaching in Lower Saxony, unprecedented financial scope for new calls for proposals opens up. 

The joint goal of the Ministry and the Volkswagen Foundation is to make Lower Saxony much more visible as a science location in national and international competition. A high-caliber strategic advisory board is supporting implementation. The Academic Advisory Commission of Lower Saxony and the Innovation Center of Lower Saxony are also involved. The focus is on quality-assured selection processes and the identification of future-oriented research fields. 

The new zukunft.niedersachsen program is to be rolled out in 2023 with three focal areas:

  • Digitality
  • transformation
  • Research excellence

Digitality: There is an opportunity to establish Lower Saxony as a digital science location of national importance. The umbrella initiative "Hochschule.digital Niedersachsen" already provides a statewide structure for joint action by all Lower Saxony universities to this end. The focus is on investments in future-oriented, digital teaching, learning and examination formats. Research in the field of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and research data management as a future key resource for value creation will be linked and jointly promoted with users in business, administration and culture. 150 million will be invested in the digital development field in the coming years.

Transformation: Based on analyses by the Academic Advisory Commission of Lower Saxony, thematic priorities will be formed and clearly profiled with collaborative and project funding.  

  • Energy and mobility transformation
  • Resource-efficient management
  • Healthy living - healthy living spaces
  • Education and knowledge

300 million euros will be invested in the development field of transformation.

Top-level research: An immediate program will support those university locations in Lower Saxony that have the potential to impress with outstanding research concepts, also in international competition. In addition, funds will continue to be made available in the future to attract the best researchers from Germany and abroad to Lower Saxony in defined fields. 125 million will be used for the development field of cutting-edge research.

Funding zukunft.niedersachsen

By far the greater part of zukunft.niedersachsen's finances results from the annual dividend paid on the nominal 30.2 million of trust shares in the VW automobile manufacturer held by the State of Lower Saxony, which are subject to a profit transfer entitlement accruing to the Volkswagen Foundation. In accordance with the Foundation’s statutes, the grants are awarded to scientific institutions in the state of Lower Saxony. To this end, the government of Lower Saxony submits proposals for the use of funds to the Foundation's Board of Trustees, usually in the summer and fall. In the reporting year 2021, a total of 149.3 million euros was allocated in the frame of the former "Niedersächsisches Vorab" – now zukunft.niedersachsen.