Strategic Partners, Cooperation and Competition

The transport researchers at DLR are open to strategic cooperation with excellent universities and research institutes, as well as leading companies. For, it is our firm belief and conviction, that only pooling scientific capacities and joint use of large-scale research infrastructures allow for the comprehensive handling of the great and complex challenges of our time. Only by combining our resources we can achieve locational advantages in global competition. Nevertheless, beyond our many cooperations there is still a tense relation, which is characterized by competition for the most innovative topics, for the very best minds, as well as for industrial and public third-party funding.

Universities and Research Institutes

The transport institutes of universities form an essential pillar in the transport research done in Germany and other European countries. Publicly or privately funded research institutes complement the range. We endeavor not to act as a competitor to these institutes and research organizations, but rather to complement these and engage specifically in large-scale research. In so doing, we want to create concrete added value for German transport research, thus, being able to achieve more together with our partners at national and European level.

Our institute directors and research managers are jointly appointed with leading universities. This ensures close collaboration in research and teaching, as well as access to very well trained young scientists. Outstanding representatives of universities and research institutes participate directly in discussing our activities, be it as selected members of the DLR supervisory boards, as consulting colleagues on the advisory boards of our institutes and projects, or as reviewers on evaluations of our research work.

We maintain particularly close cooperation with university partners within the scope of the Virtual Institutes co-funded by the Helmholtz Association. With the four Virtual Institutes on Human Automation, Design of Safety-critical Automotive Systems, Traffic Analyses, and Airport Planning and Management, acquired so far in a Helmholtz-wide competition, we were far above average with our success rate. Furthermore, the Transport Programme convinced with its proposals for several Helmholtz University Young Investigators Groups. For example, the 2010 successfully completed Helmholtz-University Young Investigators Group SeaKLIM offered a well-selected post doctoral researcher the opportunity to manage a research group both at the University of Bremen and at the DLR for five years and gather extensive teaching experience at the same time. Together with the Technical University of Berlin in 2010, we also established the Helmholtz Research School on Security Technologies. With the support of the Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association, 22 highly talented postdoctoral students from home and abroad get three years of disciplinary training as well as professional qualification and personality training.

However, we have not only intensified our collaboration with external partners from science and industry, but also with other Research Fields of the Helmholtz Association: Energy, Earth and Environment, as well as Key Technologies are in our focus here. As far as the Helmholtz Centers are concerned, our most important partners are the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG). Moreover, we check to what extent cooperation with the Helmholtz Zentrum München on the epidemiological effects of transport can be expedient.


Mobility as such is an essential prerequisite for the positive development of the German economy. However, transport industry companies, which in addition to large automotive and rail vehicle manufacturers as well as system vendors also include a multitude of small and medium-sized enterprises, also represent an important economic factor with considerable value creation.

All German automobile manufacturers have large in-house research and development departments. We maintain close ties with these departments, which is manifested in a large number of cooperations and projects with both system vendors and suppliers. The German railroad industry is also characterized by medium-sized suppliers and global companies, whose portfolios range from rail vehicles to turn-key rail systems. We work closely with these companies as well as with the leading railroad operators. In the fields of road, rail, and maritime traffic management as well as airport management, too, we collaborate with leading manufacturers and suppliers.

We endeavor to expand the extent and intensity of our relations with industrial companies by means of strategic agreements. This also includes the appointment of industrial representatives to the supervisory boards of the DLR, to institute and project advisory boards, as well as involving them into external evaluations. When our own developments approach marketability, we promote spin-offs founded by employees or commercially utilize patents and licenses by selling them to existing companies. In so doing, we create additional jobs in the high-technology sector.

Technology Platforms and Associations

Technology Platforms and associations are representatives and multipliers of the interests of their members. At the same time, they offer important professional and strategic discussion forums, multifaceted contact areas and high-quality information exchanges. We are, therefore, actively involved in organizations relevant to us at national and European level, a few of which we will introduce in the following paragraphs.

The German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) is the voice of engineering and technology, both at Germany and abroad. In acatech, we provide the deputy speaker for the topic network on mobility. The German Association of Transport Research (DVWG) is an independent platform for knowledge and experience transfer between theory and practice of transport development. As president and managing director, we are significantly shaping the work of the Rhineland-chapter of the association. The German Transport Forum (DVF), an association of more than 160 German and European companies, promotes initiatives, ideas and impulses for improving the transport conditions in Germany and Europe. We are represented in a number of DVF steering committees.

The European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) is an association of 26 leading transport research institutes in Europe. We are a co-initiator and founding member of ECTRI. After several years of direct managerial reesponsibility we are currently leading the Strategy Task Force and are committed to several thematic working groups. Furthermore, we are a partner of ERTICO – ITS Europe. More than 100 partners from industry, science, and administration promote and support the deployment of intelligent transport systems and services across Europe. As an elected member of the Strategy Committee, we decisively contribute to determining the future focus of ERTICO. The DLR is also a member of the Association of European Transport (AET), in which 350 members form a broad network in research, industry, and administration. The AET also organizes the important European Transport Conference (ETC).

Furthermore, we provide the national representative for the technology platform on rail transport, the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC). The DLR Transport Programme also contributes to shaping the policy of the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC), the technology platform for road transport. In cooperation with leading research organizations, we took part in establishing the European Transport Research Alliance (ETRA) in September 2012. The alliance is an exchange forum that monitors and supports the formation of a European Research Area in Transport (ERA-T).

On the invitation of the US American Transportation Research Board (TRB), we participate in the TRB International Committee, which is engaged, on the one hand, in the international perspectives regarding the challenges of transport, and, on the other, in international networking. In the TRB Conduct of Research Committee, we deal with an increase in the quality and efficiency of transport research through appropriate planning and management processes.

Moreover, we are also active in further platforms and in many specialized professional associations at national, European and international level. We are also committed to the relevant committees and decision-making bodies for drawing up norms and standards.

Last modified:
09/10/2013 15:09:42