Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR)
On 12 March 2007 the neighboring universities of Bochum, Dortmund, and Duisburg-Essen formally launched the University Alliance Metropolis Ruhr (UAMR), creating one of Germany’s largest university networks including 89,000 students, 1250 professors, and a unique diversity of disciplines. This was a fundamental step towards institutionalizing inter-university cooperation in the Ruhr region. Since then the number of common projects and programs has increased steadily. Founded in early 2010, the Mercator Research Center (MERCUR) is a joint initiative of Stiftung Mercator and the UAMR. MERCUR supports the strategic aims of the university alliance by funding projects that foster inter-university cooperation while also promoting the distinctive research strengths of the individual universities within the alliance.
Structure and Organization
Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) is headed by Professor Dr. Winfried Schulze, a distinguished historian and former chairman of the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). MERCUR’s office is situated in Essen.
MERCUR supports projects in research and teaching. Four different funding programs are available to professors and post-docs from the Ruhr universities: project grants for single-university or collaborative projects, structural grants for setting up inter-university centers, individual grants to finance sabbaticals, and starting grants to explore new approaches in research or teaching. Final funding decisions are made by MERCUR’s Academic Advisory Council. The Council comprises eight renowned researchers from different disciplines who do not have any ties to the Ruhr universities.
This funding program is exclusively designed for researchers who work at the universities Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen. More information can be found on the webpage of the Center (in German).
MERCUR is so far one of the biggest privately-funded projects in higher education in the Ruhr region. It operates independently, particularly through its commitment to a rigorous, science-based decision-making process on individual grant applications. MERCUR seeks to establish a model for inter-institutional cooperation in higher education based on research excellence. By advancing the strategic cooperation between the Ruhr-universities, MERCUR hopes to further establish the Ruhr as one of Germany’s leading regions for research and higher education.