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CAIS becomes institute with long-term funding

The Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) in Bochum will receive long-term funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia from April 2021 and will be expanded into a central research institute.

11. May 2021

Minister President Armin Laschet and Minister for Culture and Science Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen will hand over the funding decision to CAIS Director Prof. Dr. Michael Baurmann on 11 May 2021. CAIS researches the digital transformation in all its facets in four research programmes. The state will support the new research institute with an initial 2.1 million Euros in 2021 and six million Euros annually in the final phase from 2024.

Over the next three years, the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) will grow into an institute with a total of seven professorships, four research programmes and over 60 employees. Two scientific directors from the social sciences and computer science will lead the institute as dual heads.

In four interdisciplinary research programmes, topics on the social effects of digitalisation will be researched for five years each.

In order to identify important questions and research topics for the coming years, the CAIS has designed a “research incubator”. This instrument is used to constantly monitor the debate on the digital transformation in all areas of society and in academia. Research topics were identified in a multi-stage process: How are digital innovations changing democracy? What role will artificial intelligence play in education in the future? How can digitalisation contribute to combating climate change? To what extent can artificial intelligence be used for the common good?

The first programme on digital democratic innovations will already start in October 2021. CAIS Director Prof. Michael Baurmann: “With thematically and temporally focused programmes, we can react flexibly to social and technical developments. As a learning and agile institute, we continuously take in input from society and academia.” The results of the research are transformed into solutions to concrete problems in “real labs”: for example, it is tested how digital tools can promote sustainable behaviour.

The CAIS is supported by the Ruhr University Bochum, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster, the GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Grimme Institute. Together they support the CAIS in research, the appointment of professorships and the transfer to society. The chairman of the supervisory board, Prof. Dr. Andreas Ostendorf, emphasises the good cooperation in the sponsoring group: “In an extraordinarily fruitful cooperation, the shareholders have created a high-profile place for innovative digitisation research together with the CAIS team”.

CAIS was initially founded as a research college at the beginning of 2017, and since then it has supported guest researchers who have spent up to six months conducting research on site in Bochum. The research college and the structures already established will remain with the newly founded institute.