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.
  • 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).

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 founding, 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.

The most important donations and projects are:

  • Institutional funding from Google (value:  €4,500,000 for 3 years, from 2014 to 2016). In addition, there is a contract option already agreed on with Google for additional financing of €2.25 million and a top up of up to €2.25 million in addition to other acquired funding until 2019.
  • Funding of the project »KORSE – Internet and civil security in Europe” by the University of Freiburg/German Federal Ministry for Education(BMBF) (value: approx. €460,000 for 3 years, from 2013 to 2016)
  • Funding of the »Finance Clinic” within the »Innovation and Entrepreneurship” project by KPMG (value: €180,000 for 3 years, from 2013 to 2016)
  • Funding from BMBF of three projects as part of the »D-Werft” research alliance for new film and television technologies based on IT (value: €400,000 for 3 years, from 2014 to 2017)

Other funding sources we acquired in 2015/early 2016 include:

  • Funding for the project »Networks of Outrage” by the Volkswagen Foundation (value: €100,000 for 9 months, project start 01/2016)
  • Funding for the project »Opportunities for the Energy Market due to User Innovation” by the RWE Foundation (value: €150,000 for 3 years, from 2015 to 2018)

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.

HIIG Funding

*Until the financial statements have been finally evaluated and subsequently published in the Bundesanzeiger, the numbers given for 2016 are projections (state 30 June 2016).


Research reports

Public Corporate Governance reports

Annual Financial Statements

The annual financial statements of HIIG are published in the Bundesanzeiger.