A Helmholtz Virtual Institute brings together the expertise of different Helmholtz Centres and universities and, in this way, creates a centre of excellence of international importance and attractiveness in an important area of research. Helmholtz Virtual Institutes have their own leadership and management structure and provide specific concepts for the training of its young researchers.
By establishing new research collaborations Helmholtz Virtual Institutes provide set-up and preparation services for larger strategic research projects of the Helmholtz Association. These Institutes are funded for three to five years and can serve as a preparation for the establishment of e.g. Helmholtz Alliances. In addition, these research networks contribute to the strengthening of higher education in the German science system. A further concern is the inclusion of outstanding international institutions as associate partners.
The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences operates the Virtual Institute "Dead Sea Research Venue - DESERVE" in cooperation with partners since 2012
This Virtual Institute combines atmosphere and climate research with earth sciences and water research. The Dead Sea serves as an “open-air laboratory” in a globally unique natural and cultural space where rapid environmental change with long-term effects can be conceived. DESERVE deals with three major challenges: environmental risks, water availability and climate change. Another focus is the promotion and training of young scientists, by means of mentoring programs and the promotion of start-ups, among others. Partner institutions involved are from Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Germany.
The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences operates the Virtual Institute "Integrated Climate and Landscape Evolution Analyses - ICLEA" in cooperation with partners since 2011
ICLEA focusses on the climate and landscape development in the area between northeast Germany and northwest Poland. The scientists address the differences between natural processes and human-specific influences and aim for a comprehensive understanding of landscape development by linking various data. For this purpose, a concept was developed to analyze integrated information and data on differing time-scales. The aim is to provide a platform for process-based analysis of climate and environmental changes in order to improve the estimation of future changes and to develop effective adaptation strategies.