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Staatssekretär Prof. Dr. Ingolf V. Hertel : Grußwort
The Berlin Science Landscape - After Dinner Speech on the occasion of the EU/BMBF meeting
Evaluation of Science and Technology in the new Europe, 8th June 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen,

let me start with the attempt to translate the name of this restaurant "Zur letzten Instanz": it is certainly not the "last instance"; perhaps "to the last resort" or "to the upper most court" - in the sense of the court which in a specific law suit makes the final ruling. I have been told that people after their divorce went here to celebrate. - But I am sure that this is not an omen for the present meeting, rather I expect this to be the beginning of a wonderful new decade of developing an evaluation culture.

After dinner speeches are not a particular strong tradition in the German culture of public or semi-public performance. The rhetoric education at our institutions of learned studies is - if anything - rudimentary and we somehow lack the light-hearted and yet very precise Anglo-Saxon humour which is necessary for such kind of entertainment.

Thus, when I was asked to present an after dinner speech about the "Berlin Science Landscape" on this occasion I was somewhat reluctant - also since the subject is not necessarily one to amuse you after such an opulent dinner - science in Berlin a quite serious, even though hopefully inspiring subject and - if you talk to any of its representatives, and I am one of them - anything else but too well fed.

Thus, before giving you an exposé about science in a nutshell, let me say a few words about Berlin as such, the new Berlin - now nearly 10 years after the break down of the Berlin wall, which changed everything in both parts of this formerly strange assembly in the middle of the so called "red sea".

In these months the German Parliament as well as the major part of our Federal Government moves to Berlin. Berlin is in the process of becoming really the German capital. For my generation and especially for those who have lived in this city for many years during the cold war, this is still some kind of miracle - "the occurrence unheard of" as Wolf Lepenies phrased it. This German capital which is now emerging will be the capital of a new united Germany as an integral part of Europe. The specific role which Berlin could play in this process toward completing Europe is defined by its geography and also by its history, specifically its post-war history. Let me phrase it this way: in whichever direction you turn from Berlin, you will always be faced with Europe. This is a great challenge and responsibility which the city willingly accepts. But is it already prepared for this challenge? Is Berlin already in good shape for its future?

You must remember: For 40 years both parts of Berlin were breast fed by their respective national governments. During the cold war Berlin was the shop-window of a divided world. This created economic and political structures as well as a culture of public spending which turn out to be completely unfit for the stormy waves of a global economy which we are now facing. In addition, the federal support, cash as well as many tax benefits, which the city was enjoying and kept it alive, was cut dramatically after the unification since Berlin was now considered to be a "normal city" with the additional benefit of becoming the capital. The result can be studied in 1999:

Berlin, this is about 3.6 Million inhabitants, still slowly decreasing in numbers. Berlin, this is a vast construction boom which you can watch everywhere in the city which, depending on individual taste, makes it highly exciting or - unliveable. Berlin is also an industrial desert, having once been (about 100 years ago) one of the roots of Germanys industrial strength, a high tech boom town one would call it today - which we want it to become again. After the German unification Berlin has lost another several 100 industrial jobs, the present unemployment rate being about 17% (to be compared to 12% in Germany over all and about 19% in East Germany). But we also have special peaks: 30% unemployment in the district Kreuzberg and 20% in Prenzlauer Berg. You can imagine the problems involved. With a gross product of the city of about 156 Billion DM the state budget amounts to about 40 Billion DM - of which less than 50% are covered by local taxes - and the accumulated public dept presently has risen to 61 Billion DM.

Berlin, this is new awakening on the side, but also nostalgia on the other - nostalgia East and nostalgia West with two different cultures of socialisation which only slowly begin to merge. We still have our clearly recognisable languages and conceptions - we say "Zielsetzung" in the West and "Zielstellung" in the East, "Test" and "Testung", "Plastik" and "Plaste" and you can still recognise the origin of a secretary by her technique of putting together several sheets of paper: by stapling or clamping it.

Berlin, this is also minute reconstructions of large monument protected districts and the arising of whole new city quarters out of nothing, with impressive architecture. Including a particularly gigantic one - maybe I should better say impressive - for the presently arriving federal government.

However, most importantly: Berlin is the most dense Science landscape of Germany, perhaps the most dense in Europe, with - and please do not make me responsible for the exact numbers - about 80 000 scientists and more than 200 institutes, colleges, learned societies, archives and museums of which 80 are involved in one way or other with foreign cultures, languages and international affairs. We have 3 universities, 9 so called universities of applied sciences and similar colleges, 4 arts colleges, 5 or 6 Helmholz-Centres, 6 Max-Planck-Institutions, 16 Leibniz-Institutes, 4 Fraunhofer-Institutes, several more research institutes funded by the Land Berlin as well several federal laboratories. - Not to mention a wealth of libraries and museums which systematically are counted as part of the cultural sector of Berlin. The total science budget of the Land Berlin is about 3.5 Billion DM, i.e. about 8% of the city budget, 2.2 billion of which are in support of our universities and colleges. Science in Berlin is of course international, as science always was and is. We feel this is particularly important for Berlin while developing into a modern metropolis in a world without boundaries. We have, in comparison to other German states (Länder), with 12% a rather large fraction of foreign students and our universities undertake every effort to further enhance this number since we are aware that educating young people is the best way to create long lasting good and peaceful relation among nations. Our scientists and scholars are involved in more that 400 international co-operations and thus are interwoven with the world.

It is this extraordinary density and plurality which we consider the finest raw material from which we have to create the future of Berlin, the new Berlin. This will be an essential asset for this city in its new role as the German capital and metropolis in the middle of Europe. Politics, business and industry expect that Berlins science offers a rich ground for innovation in future key technologies but also a high degree of competence in the fields of social sciences and economy as well as knowledge about foreign countries and cultures. - We have to compete here with New-York, London, Paris and Tokyo - and more and more so with Bejing and Shanghai.

The numbers I have given you should not make you overlook, however, that all these institution are presently not particularly well fed. Rather, as a consequence of German unification the buswords were "household consolidation", "concentration" reduction of "double offers" and so on. All institutions of Berlin science and tertiary education had to undergo a really radical slimming cure and - of particular relevance to the present meeting - nearly all were exposed to a series of severe evaluation processes.

If you talk about a culture of evaluation you can study it here in Berlin in detail.

I will not go into the details of the several waves of "Peers Panels", "Structural Commissions" and "Special Topics Groups" and the rigorous establishment of international advisory boards. Let me simply state that the process was very successful and has led to a science landscape inside and outside the universities which has in most parts now a high caliber quality stamp of the highest German evaluation authorities.

It is fair to state at this point, that the institutional restructuring of the science landscape in Berlin is now complete: The universities have a financial guarantee from the state for several years to finance an official number of 85000 student places (in practice this will lead still to over 10000 students in the city). Presently the Senate signs contracts with the universities until 2002. And the non university research institutes are closely linked into a national funding system which also - we hope at least - offers some long term stability.

It is our policy to generate a focused strategic agreement: stability and reform, quality and concentration. We have now started a strategic dialogue (the so called Strategie--forum Science, Research and Innovation) about our long term goals which starts with an analysis of strengths and weaknesses and tries to establish a concerted action of all key actors in Berlin science. Some points are already clear: we will continue to concentrate our efforts on

  • the stabilisation and internal reform of our three universities; in addition we will focus on
  • the research and technology centre Adlershof, where we want to create a new culture of co-operation between university, non university research and industry and on
  • the biomedical research campus Buch.

Prussia has, a long time ago, once already shown how from the proverbial Streusandbüchse (sand box) plus creative human mind (even if partially imported) a modern flourishing society can emerge. We have no other choice as following this direction and at the same time not repeating the mistakes of the past. And with respect to the limited financial possibilities: it is not a priory obvious that scientific productivity and economic efficiency is directly connected in a quantitative manner.

Cum grano salis we may even discover the advantages of economic modesty: for example is the number of Sonderforschungsbereiche of the DFG in Berlin steadily growing even though the number of professors is decreasing. If you take the ratio as measure of quality, as it is often done, this would lead to fantastic perspectives if we allow the financial side to continue its present course.

This example may illustrate that benchmarking, quality assessment, evaluation, budgeting, cost - efficiency calculation and how else todays miraculous instruments are called have their limitation - as important as the discussion may be. With German accuracy and rigidity we may in a few years have established a complete new profession of evaluators: in public services you may expect the hierarchy of - this cannot be translated into English - "Evaluationsrat, Oberevaluationsrat and Evalutationsdirektor". You see, it will be important to keep a balanced view on these issues in order to make sure that the limited resources are used most efficiently - and this gives you a high responsibility and sufficient work to do!

Thank you for your attention.

Prof. Dr. Ingolf Hertel, e-Mail: Hertel@mbi-berlin.de

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