Successful interim evaluation of the two Helmholtz Innovation Labs at the GFZ

The two Helmholtz Innovation Labs at the GFZ have been positively evaluated: FERN.Lab and 3D-US Lab receive another two years of funding.

FERN.Lab and 3D-US Lab receive another two years of funding

After 2.5 years of funding by the Helmholtz Association, an interim evaluation of all currently funded Helmholtz Innovation Labs took place in summer 2022. Of these application and cooperation platforms, seven were selected by Helmholtz for funding in the first round and nine more from 2019 onwards, two of them at the GFZ.

The two Innovation Labs established at the GFZ


 is an innovative technology platform for sustainable resource management. Together with GFZ scientists and partners from industry, FERN.Lab develops a variety of applications for different areas such as nature conservation, agriculture, forestry and waste management on the basis of satellite data.

3D-US Lab is a network for the establishment of 3D underground seismics. It consists of the application-oriented research group at the GFZ, industry representatives and mining universities. The Lab develops seismic measurement methods and instruments for underground use in the exploration of geotechnically relevant structures, such as faults in the vicinity of tunnels and mines. 

Successful appraisal

Both labs have worked successfully over the past two years and fulfilled a number of success indicators. Due to the positive review results, the funding phase of FERN.Lab was extended until the end of 2024 and the 3D-US Lab will also move into the second phase of funding by the Helmholtz Association with the fulfilment of a condition.

Future of the Innovation Labs

This means that both labs will be able to work with their partners for another two years on new technologies and innovations with future potential and provide significant support for knowledge and technology transfer. The successful transfer activities of the Labs will also strengthen the revenue side of the GFZ, so that a permanent establishment of both Labs beyond the funding period can be expected.

Background: Helmholtz Innovation Labs

The innovation program "Helmholtz Innovation Labs" aims to establish the recently-developed concept of "maker-/hackerspaces" or "fablabs" at the Research Centers and to adapt it accordingly. These physical "enabling spaces" are intended to represent an interface between industrial research and non-university research, which is embedded in a long-term strategy and thus goes beyond pure contract research and previous transfer instruments.

The Innovation Labs are intended to give scientists and industry partners the opportunity of doing research and developing ideas together on an equal footing. This close and iterative interaction between science, industry (SMEs and major corporations), and users or customers is not only intended to help improve technologies, but also to bring in, at an early stage in the process, the different perspectives of other market participants that are critical for the success of the development from invention to innovation.

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