Global Partnerships


UAlberta has strong, extensive ties with many of Germany’s leading research institutions including: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Fraunhofer Society, RWTH Aachen University, TUM Technical University of Munich. Further relations exist with German research support organizations e.g. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), German Research Foundation (DFG), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). We are also fostering emerging relationships with Max Planck Society, Leibniz Association and E.ON Inc. (Germany’s largest power company).

Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative (HAI): UAlberta has a long-standing relationship with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany’s largest scientific organization (€3.4B Euros/year). Our collaboration began in energy and environment research but has since expanded into health and life sciences.


Our collaboration in energy and environment (HAI – E&E) includes research partners at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, the Karlsruhe institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, the Research Centre Juelich (Forschungszentrum Jülich) in Jülich and the Environmental Research Centre (UFZ) in Leipzig.

A research collaboration on ecosystem and resource informatics (iTER) with partners at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen.

  • HAI E&E received significant funding through the Canadian ecoTrust program and the Helmholtz Association between 2010 and 2016 and focused on expanding knowledge and developing innovative technologies and system for efficient and environmentally sustainable use of energy resources. Projects involved 273 UAlberta researchers and students, led to the graduation of 43 MSc and 20 PhDs candidates, and 50+ joint publications. Several researchers continue their research activities with their Helmholtz partners to date.

UAlberta-Fraunhofer: UAlberta signed in fall 2017 a Technology Platform Agreement with the Fraunhofer Society (€2.1B and 69-institutes), Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization and the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) in Oberhausen and Sulzbach-Rosenberg. The UAlberta/Fraunhofer collaboration focuses on renewable energy technologies e.g. using the Thermo-Catalytic-Reforming (TCR®) technology (Bio-battery project) and test them with various Alberta feedstock material as well as electrical energy storage using Redox-Flow battery technologies as well as supercritical CO2 applications in the food sector.

  • Bio-battery project: generating energy and valuable products from waste. The first joint project is testing Fraunhofer TCR® technology in Alberta. The bio-battery is a pilot plant the size of a shipping container, that can convert various wastes into 3 valuable products: biofuels/bio-oil, char and hydrogen. One application for the biofuel can be as supplement for jet fuel. This project assess the TCR® technology with various Alberta waste feedstocks e.g. municipal solid waste, sewer sludge as well as waste and by-products from the agro- and forestry-sector. It also explores the technology with regard to economic and environmental potential for early adopters.
  • Renewable electrical energy storage: another joint project is explored with Alberta partners to embed and assess the Fraunhofer Vanadium Redox-Flow battery technology with respect to renewable energy sources (e.g. wind and solar). 

RWTH Aachen University, Germany’s largest technical university and one of Europe’s leading research universities, have been developing a strategic partnership. Both universities have research interests in sustainable energy topics e.g. bioenergy, smart grids, and fuel design, as well as computer sciences and bio-medical engineering.

Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative:

  • Infectious Disease Research (HAI-IDR) is conducted between the UAlberta and in particular the Li Ka Shing Institute and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig. HAI-IDR is focused on developing vaccines and new therapies for liver disease caused by hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV). HAI-IDR aims to help tackle the spread of hepatitis, help current sufferers, and help reduce hepatitis’ huge healthcare economic burden. HAI-IDR also involves an education and training program and promotes technology transfer to benefit Alberta, Canada and Germany, and the world.
  • Neurodegenerative Disease Research (HAI-NDR) has been conducted joint research between UAlberta researchers in the Prion Institute and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn. The joint activities concluded in 2016 tackled unresolved questions in this area; leveraging combined expertise in human and animal prion diseases with advanced research technology in structural biology, cell biology, transcriptomics, and proteomics. A common feature of these diseases is the buildup of misfolded proteins in the nervous system, leading to the death of nervous system cells (neurons). HAI-NDR focused on better understanding the underlying mechanisms and using that knowledge to develop strategies to prevent or halt disease progression.

Joint research activities in diabetes research are currently under development between UAlberta’s Alberta Diabetes Institute (ADI) and their partners at the Diabetes Campus in the German Centre for Environmental Health (HGMU) – a Helmholtz centre - in Munich.


UAlberta’s Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS) is a unique training program, the first of its kind. Combining research and teaching conducted on disturbed lands in Canada, Germany and other collaborating countries, in association with industry and regulatory partners. Land reclamation professionals are increasingly in demand due to rapidly growing human population and rapidly degrading arable land caused by urban sprawl, soil erosion, resource extraction and industrial development.


Alberta/Technical University of Munich International Graduate School for Hybrid Functional Materials (ATUMS): joint training initiative that involves eight faculty members and about 44 students from Chemistry, Physics and.

Innovation & business development:
The German-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research (GCCIR) is a non-profit multilateral initiative for the development of German-Canadian research and business relations. Based in Edmonton, Alberta and located in the TEC-Edmonton Business Incubator. The Centre provides support for the exchange of information, development of networks, and the establishment and cultivation of collaborative partnerships in academia, business, and industry. The central focus is on enhancing international knowledge and technology transfer, and on raising the profile of Canada, and Germany as centres of excellence in innovation and research. GCCIR is currently working with the Alberta government to diversifying Alberta's industry by partnering Albertan small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with German SMEs in high-tech sector.

UAlberta researchers are working with researchers at Fraunhofer IZM Munich on packaging and MEMS device 3D micro assembly technology for bio and energy industry application, a collaboration that also involves student mobility.

Falling Walls
An international platform involving leaders from science, business, politics, government, the arts and society. Inspired by the fall of the Berlin wall, Falling Walls fosters conversation on how research and innovation can break down walls facing society and our world, and promotes the latest innovations and scientific advances. Falling Walls has three events: Lab, Venture and the Conference, all of which are supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research, Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Helmholtz Association, and other organizations including Bayer Foundations, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), European Research Council, Leibniz Association, BASF, Boehringer Ingelheim, Siemens, Total and Zeiss.

UAlberta has been an international qualifying Lab for the past five years. In 2014 when we were invited to be 1 of only 20 institutions to host an international Lab. The Lab is a competition where next gen researchers and innovators present their ‘ideas and/or innovations’ in just 3 minutes and are then judged by a panel of academics, industry, government, and the media.

Falling Walls Lab UAlberta was invited to send its top 3 winners to Berlin in 2014 to compete in the Berlin finale alongside 97 international competitors. One of our representatives, Nermeen Youssef, won 2nd place overall and presented again at the Falling Walls Conference. The conference is attended by 700 international decision makers in politics, government, science, business, media and culture from over 80 nations. BBC London calls the conference “Where the brightest minds on the planet meet, Richard Saul Wurman, TED Conferences founder, calls it “one of the great gatherings in the world,” while Hal Varian from Google calls the Conference “Science meets business.”

We have continued to send three UAlberta Lab winners since. In 2015, another UAlberta competitor, Lian Willets, won second in the Berlin. Because of our success, Berlin asked us to host a Falling Walls Venture (focused on science-based spin-offs).


  • Humboldt Foundation Liaison Office of Canada is located at UAlberta, and we have more Humboldt Scholars than any other Canadian university.
  • Graduate student and faculty exchanges take place regularly between UAlberta and the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Other German collaborations: exist at the faculty, department and individual faculty member level, including: