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Industry on Campus: Catalysis Research Laboratory CaRLa with Successful Evaluation

Press Release No. 8/2010
12 January 2010
Joint research facility for chemical catalysis of the Universität Heidelberg and BASF

The Catalysis Research Laboratory (CaRLa), through funding from the company BASF, Heidelberg University and Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts will continue its successful work in chemical catalysis research for a period of another five years. Following a positive evaluation, the partners involved have agreed to further finance CaRLa at the Ruperto Carola. According to the review panel, CaRLa, which serves as a model institution in the Heidelberg initiative “Industry on Campus”, has achieved high and also international recognition and is an essential asset in the German Higher Education landscape for the transfer of technology.

Evaluierung des Catalysis Research Laboratory
Evaluation of the Catalysis Research Laboratory: Review panel with the Scientific Director of CaRLa, Prof. Dr. Peter Hofmann of Heidelberg University (second from left), and Dr. Christoph Jäkel, active until end 2009 for BASF as the head of the laboratory (third from left). Fourth from left, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University. On behalf of the State of Baden-Württemberg: Dr. Renate Fischer (third from right, front) of the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts.

The catalysis lab operated jointly by Heidelberg University and BASF’s research division was set up in 2006. “The Co-operation offers Heidelberg University and BASF advantages, which far exceed isolated bilateral industrial cooperation,” emphasised Prof. Dr. Peter Hofmann, Scientific Director of the project and Chemist at the Ruperto Carola. . “As intended with the project’s creation, a new model for technology transfer has been established and the attraction of the Rhein-Neckar region for qualified scholars has been increased.” Dr. Michael Limbach, who since January 2010 has been working as the head of the laboratory for the BASF, also added, “The chosen international researchers will be offered a creative environment in the catalysis laboratory that combines basic research with application-oriented approaches.”

Scholars from Heidelberg University along with researchers from BASF are working together on the catalysis laboratory. An important partner at the Ruperto Carola is the collaborative research centre “Molecular Catalysts: Structure and Functional Design.” CaRLa is being financed respectively in two halves; one by BASF, the other by the State and University. 700,000 Euros are available annually for twelve post-doctoral scholars following a one-time investment of 1.5 million Euros coupled with the existing project funds. The current operation of the Catalysis Research Laboratory is being financed with an additional 360,000 Euros per year.

The lab at work: a staff-member using a glove-box.

The catalysis, through which the creation of novel materials and components is employed, is one of the crucial future technologies in chemistry in the 21st century. The aim of the newly developed catalysts is to accelerate chemical reactions, minimise energy consumption, avoid unwanted by- and waste products and to facilitate an environment-friendly, economically as well as ecologically optimised chemical industry. Of particular importance are the molecular catalysts, which are employed as highly specialised working “synthesis machines” in atomic dimensions.

Heidelberg University is striking new paths in scientific and industrial co-operation with the concept “Industry on Campus”. The focus is on long-term applicable and strategically oriented projects in fundamental research. In addition to the 2009 evaluated Catalysis Research Laboratory are also the Nikon Imaging Centre in the field of Light Microscopy and the Heidelberg Collaboratory for Image Processing, which concentrates on questions surrounding optical processing. More information on CaRLa can be found online at


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Prof. Dr. Peter Hofmann
Institute of Organic Chemistry
phone: +49 6221 548502 / 548415


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