The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) is a research institute funded by private, non-earmarked contributions and evaluated third-party funding. HIIG was founded in 2012 by the Humboldt University of Berlin (HU), the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, together with the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research (HBI) in Hamburg as a partner through an initial donation from Google in the amount of €4.5 million (until 2013). This funding was renewed again in 2014 (see below).
FUNDING SCIENCE THROUGH BUSINESS
How we have structurally ensured the independence of our research:
When companies fund science, the independence of the research is questioned, and justifiably so. Since our foundation, we have therefore committed our institute to the principle of transparency and are interested in an open dialogue and critical discussion. The independence of our research is our main concern. It is evident in many structural features and is continually optimised:
- The guiding principles of our research are academic excellence, social relevance, independence and openness. Research at HIIG is guided by the “HIIG Guidelines to Ensure Good Scientific Practice”, which are based on the recommendations of the German Research Foundation (DFG). In addition to this, the institute has committed itself to upholding the Fundraising Governance Guidelines to keep the institutes’ donors and its substantive work clearly separate. These guidelines are the basis for our funding agreements and also formally guarantee our independence.
- We do structured, programme-driven research. The institute’s research agenda and content orientation is developed by HIIG’s research directors, who are also active in prestigious academic institutions and are critically monitored and evaluated by an international Scientific Advisory Board.
- Our founding partner institutions are all universities, not businesses. When the institute was founded, we ensured that cash flows and research were separated structurally (Fördergesellschaft GFI and Forschungsgesellschaft HIIG GmbH, see Organisation). In 2015, HIIG’s founding partners launched the Foundation Internet and Society. This will allow HIIG to attract more institutional sponsors and to secure its financial basis or even continue to broaden it.
- The foundation’s board (two HIIG research directors) is advised by the Founders Committee regarding the structural and strategic development of the institute. The Founders Committee is composed of representatives of the founding partners (HU, UdK and WZB) and personalities from science, politics, business and society. The majority of Supervisory Board members (min. ⅔) are individuals from the academic world and society.
HIIG's primary sources of funding
The majority of HIIG’s funding comes from private, non-earmarked contributions and evaluated third-party funds (for example ministries, DFG, foundations). Private donations are used to institutionally fund research in the field Internet and society. Besides this, research partnerships with donors are possible, for example, by supporting existing funding lines or projects.
Substantial donations and projects currently are:
- Institutional funding from Google of €2.25 million and a top up of up to €2.25 million in addition to other acquired funding (matching fund), 2017-2019
- Funding of the professorship “Digitales Wissensmanagement in Studium und Lehre an der Hochschule” by the Commerzbank Stiftung in cooperation with Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and the Einstein Center Digital Future (€500,000, 2018 - 2022)
- Funding of the project “Competing and complementing – The relation of Co-determination and new participatory platforms within companies” by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (€300,000, 2017-2019)
- Funding of the project “Opportunities for the Energy Market due to User Innovation” by the innogy Foundation (€150,000 for 3 years, 2015-2018)
- Funding of the lecture series Making sense of the digital society by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb (€100,000 for 1 year, 2017-2018)
- Funding of the project “Gemeinsam Digital – Mittelstand 4.0” by the German Ministry for economic affairs and energy (BMWi) ( €250,000 for 3 years, 2016-2019)
- Funding of the project: “OPEN – Methods and tools for community based product development” by the DFG (€75,000 for 3 years, 2016-2018)
- Funding of the project Pelagios by Lancaster University and Exeter University (lead applicants, further project partners: The Open University, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, University of London) via Mellon Foundation (€170,000 for 3 years, 2017-2019)
Further funding sources of completed projects include:
- Funding of the project “Privacy by design in smart cities” by CISCO (€100,000, 2017)
- Funding of the project „Internet of Things” by CISCO ( €250,000 for 1 year, 2016-2017)
- Funding of three projects in the framework of the research cooperation “d-werft” supported by the BMBF (€400,000, for 3 years, 2014-2017)
- Funding for the project “Networks of Outrage” by the Volkswagen Foundation (€100,000 for 9 months, 2016-2017)
- Funding of the project “KORSE – Internet and civil security in Europe” by University of Freiburg/ the German Federal Ministry for Education (BMBF) (value: approx. €460,000 for 3 years, 2013-2016)
A detailed breakdown of the annual amount of funding is always published as an appendix to HIIG’s research report encore. After the annual audit, our financial statements are published in the Bundesanzeiger. The graph below shows the percentage distribution and the trends in funding.
*Until the financial statements have been finally evaluated and subsequently published in the Bundesanzeiger, the numbers given for 2017 are projections (Effective: 30 March 2017).
The research reports, annual financial statements, reports of transparency and the research agenda can be found here.
The HIIG researches the development of the internet from a societal perspective with the aim to better understand the digitalisation of all spheres of life. Find out more...
Internet & Society
Supporters and partners
Funding of corporations as well as public institutions is an important element for the work of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) as an independent and pioneering organisation in this field of research. By becoming a partner you support research on and critical engagement with the challenges of digital transformation. Your support allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the sociocultural, legal, economic and technical implications of the digitisation process and helps us to establish an objective basis for assessing societal developments in the digital age and to strengthen the public discourse.
Thank you for considering becoming a partner of the HIIG. For detailed information on individual cooperation opportunities and benefits of your engagement, please contact Nina Brach.
Your cooperation opportunities
Join us on an expedition. Like Alexander von Humboldt, pioneer of interdisciplinary research and explorer of foreign worlds, HIIG has taken on a research challenge of a similar size: the dynamic interactions between internet and society in the age of the digital. Help us explore the tension between innovation and governance and open the black box behind bits and bytes.
Currently, the institute is developing a European cooperation platform in the framework of the global network of internet & society centers (NoC). It is meant to strengthen the cooperation between European centers on future topics like ethics and governance of artificial intelligence. Your support for this project is very welcome, too.
Current supporters and partners
The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society aims to position itself as a leading, independent research centre within a global network. Thanks to initial funding by Google and other private companies, the Institute for Internet and Society was able to start its work in 2011 and to be founded in 2012.
Since then many research projects were initiated and completed and many researcher were supported. We established a widespread research network and developed pioneering science transfer formats with politics, economy and civil society.
We are grateful for the support of and the successful cooperation with our partners: