The universities of UA Ruhr offer a broad variety of cutting-edge research that transcends disciplinary borders and achieves international recognition. The collegial nature within and between disciplines and institutions is one of the true hallmarks of the Ruhr Area. Students, scientists, and scholars who come to the UA Ruhr universities become part of a down-to-earth and close-knit network of research institutes and companies whose impact stretches far beyond the Ruhr Area.



Research at UA Ruhr is developing at a rapid pace. By bundling the complementary strengths of our partner universities, we successfully open up innovative research fields. With joined forces, we thus form critical masses in terms of personnel and infrastructure that are indispensable for handling large research topics.

Outstanding examples of that standard-setting collaboration include the Flagship Programs “Materials Chain” and “Ruhr Explores Solvation” (RESOLV), set up in 2015, where numerous researchers from the UA Ruhr universities work hand in hand, often in cooperation with other third-party and international partners. The research cluster RESOLV is financed by the DFG Excellence Initiative.

Moreover, 100 additional joint research institutions and projects have been established spanning all disciplines, from American studies to cell biology.

One of our strengths is nurturing young talent. Young researchers are promoted through various interdisciplinary programs, including individual coaching, as well as in numerous Graduate Schools. The Mercator Research Center Ruhr supports this unique cooperation by providing 46 million € for collaborative research endeavours.

A key tool for fostering the collaboration between the universities are the UA Ruhr professorships, funded by MERCUR with up to one million euros. The professorships help define a competitive UA Ruhr profile and have so far been awarded to

  • Prof. Rahmann in order to pool competencies at the UA Ruhr Center for Computational Biology
  • Prof. Havenith-Newen to facilitate the continuous expansion of the UA Ruhr Flagship Program RESOLV
  • Prof. Wiederkehr to develop the research focus "Virtual Manufacturing" in the Flagship Program Materials Chain
  • Prof. Malte Behrens in order to pool competencies in the field of "Materials Chemistry of Catalysts" in the Flagship Program Materials Chain

A crucial source of ideas and inspiration is the UA Ruhr Research Council, whose eminent members have dedicated themselves to identifying new Flagship Programs and research fields in which the UA Ruhr has attained or will attain a leading position in the national and international marketplace.


Flagship Program Materials Chain

Materials Chain

The University Alliance Ruhr’s Flagship Program Materials Chain bundles and strengthens the research activities in the field of materials science at the three universities of Dortmund, Bochum and Duisburg/Essen. The goal of the collaboration is to reach a complete and concise description of the whole materials chain – from atoms to finished technical components and vice versa. The expertise in this field at the three universities is internationally well-recognized and combines activities of more than 200 research groups. The “Materials Chain” covers all stages of modern materials sciences from designing, manufacturing and refining of materials to their characterization, and fashioning within production processes. Consequently, the “Materials Chain” is systematically applicable to various areas.

Flagship Program Solvation Science


The mission of the cluster and Flagship Program is to develop Solvation Science as a new interdisciplinary field to understand the influence of solvation on reactions, on the function of biomolecules, and on processes at liquid/solid interfaces. Started in 2012, RESOLV is now the leading research institution in Solvation Science on a national level and one of the top players worldwide. Financed by the DFG Excellence Initiative, the research cluster and UA Ruhr Flagship Program RESOLV (Ruhr Explores Solvation) brings together international and regional partners to continuously enhance its research capacities and cement its position among leading research institutions worldwide. You will find an apt description of RESOLV in the video clip of renowned science journalist and former editor of the journal Nature: Philip Ball about Solvation Science and Ruhr Explores Solvation.

Competence Field "Energy - System - Transformation"


All three universities of the UA Ruhr have complementary and interdisciplinary research foci and structures in the field of energy research. Based on the existing close cooperations and joint projects, transdisciplinary energy research at the UA Ruhr is being expanded - with the central focus on interdisciplinary analysis of the overall system and in particular its transformation towards an energy system based on renewable energies. This will result in a strong strategic concentration on this future-oriented topic in the Competence Field "Energy - System - Transformation".

By bundling the existing and complementary research foci of the UA Ruhr-Universities in the field of energy research, a platform has been created that is highly visible and unique in its transdisciplinary form. This platform promotes research into sustainable solutions and promotes their use in practice. The focus is on making the process of transformation socially manageable, acceptable, economically meaningful and legally secure. In this way, recommendations for action can be developed in order to achieve the agreed European and global climate protection goals in the coming decades.

Competence Field "Metropolitan Research"

With more than 5 million people inhabiting a high-density urban environment, the Ruhr region is one of Europe’s largest agglomerations, on par with Île-de-France, Greater London, Moscow and Istanbul. Ruhr Area has a polycentric structure, boasting a number of centers that network and collaborate with each other, as well as being competitors. Moreover, Ruhr Area is a model case for the transformation of an industrial region into a service and knowledge-based metropolitan hub. In the field of transformative metropolitan research, Ruhr Area thus constitutes an ideal real laboratory for analyzing and shaping structural changes, from the scaled-down versions of individual quarters to the entire region.

In this dynamic and heterogeneous high-density urban environment, academics at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), TU Dortmund University and University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) have been conducting dedicated research into metropolitan living for many years. All three universities possess disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise, leveraging it strategically thanks to their complementary resources and synergy potentials. The UA Ruhr competence field “Metropolitan Research” marks the establishment of an internationally visible center for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary metropolitan research that bundles the complementary competencies of the three universities across all discourse communities and takes advantage of the strengths of the region by networking with third-party research organizations and industrial partners. The "Metromap" provides an overview of the eight interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary areas of research consolidated in the competence field “Metropolitan Research” at UA Ruhr and illustrates the points where they intersect.

Mercator Research Center Ruhr


The objective pursued by the Mercator Research Center Ruhr is to strengthen the Ruhr Area’s position as an important economic and industrial hub in a sustainable manner by promoting strategic collaboration among all UA Ruhr universities. Researchers from UA Ruhr universities have the option to submit applications for five types of grant funding via their respective Rectorates: project funding, structural development grant, individual grants, start-up funding and strategic fund.

The Center was set up by the Mercator Foundation in collaboration with UA Ruhr in March 2010.With its programs, MERCUR supports the networking strategies of researchers, institutes and faculties across all three universities, mainly in research, but also in academia. The programs thus reflect MERCUR’s conviction that, by bundling its strengths, the research region Ruhr will gain clout in the national and international marketplace which competes for the best ideas and minds.

UA Ruhr Research Council

UA Ruhr Forschungsrat

Staffed by senior academics, the joint UA Ruhr Research Council provides an ongoing stream of creative ideas and recommendations to strengthen the research endeavors in the Ruhr Area. The Council is the powerhouse that drives the continuous expansion of UA Ruhr by analyzing the existing and initiating potential research cooperations. Building and enhancing joint Flagship Programs is at the heart of its agenda, as they have propelled UA Ruhr to the top in national and international research and will continue to cement its leading position in the years to come. The Research Council is composed of 15 renowned scientists, including the three Vice Rectors Research as ex-officio members.