32 million Euros for a new "Interactive Intelligent Systems" research building

Bielefeld University wins first place in the Wissenschaftsrat's [WR, Council of Science and Humanities] research buildings competition: outstanding quality and international significance.

In this year's recommendation on funding for research buildings in higher education institutes, the Wissenschaftsrat has not only approved Bielefeld University's proposal for a new "Interactive Intelligent Systems" research building but also awarded it first place in the competition. This decision is yet another notable achievement and further confirmation of the outstanding academic quality of this internationally unique competence and research centre for interactive intelligent systems at Bielefeld University. Construction of the 32 million Euro research building will commence in January 2011.

"Bielefeld University is one of the best higher education institutes in Germany for both research and teaching. First place in the Science Council's ranking confirms this yet again," commented the delighted Rektor of Bielefeld University, Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer. "The research building will further consolidate Bielefeld University's technological and theoretical status as an international competence and research centre for interactive intelligent systems." Hans-Jürgen Simm, Chancellor of Bielefeld University, added: "This allows us to establish sustainably optimal work and research conditions for our scientists. In addition, the research building will be the first construction on the new Hochschulcampus Nord [northern university campus]."

The total cost of the four-storey research building will be 32 million Euros – 26.8 million Euros for construction, 2.7 million for basic equipment, and 2.5 million for the large-scale scientific equipment required by the research programme. Construction should start in January 2011, and the 5300 square metre (working space) building should be completed in April 2012. The users should be able to start work in their new rooms in the summer of 2012. 

The innovative core of the research building is a multidisciplinary central laboratory. This will make it possible to study cognitive interaction processes with the most modern instruments and a previously undreamed of resolution. "The idea behind bringing together information scientists, biologists, linguists, physicists, psychologists, and sport scientists is to develop user-friendly technological systems ranging from everyday appliances to robots that people can use intuitively," explained Professor Dr. Helge Ritter, Professor of Neuroinformatics, Director of the CoR-Lab research laboratory, and Coordinator of the CITEC Cluster of Excellence. "Future research will be distributed across four closely interlinked fields: (1) motion intelligence, (2) attentive systems, (3) situated communication, and (4) memory and learning."

In its Empfehlung zur Förderung von Forschungsbauten (2011) [recommendation for funding research buildings], the Wissenschaftsrat predicted that the future research findings at Bielefeld University would be not only of particularly outstanding quality but also of international significance. "The anticipated advances in our understanding will be of major significance for numerous applied fields (robotics, intelligent everyday appliances, assistive environments, active media) and even of great interest for external scientific partners was well as the decision makers in industry. The hosts at Bielefeld have built up excellent national and international networks. They convincingly meet the highest criteria for the assessment of research buildings."

The national and state governments each finance 50 percent of any necessary construction work for innovative research of outstanding quality and supraregional or international significance. Project proposals are also assessed and recommended for funding by the experts at the Wissenschaftsrat and the Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz des Bundes und der Länder [Joint Science Conference]. Winning this competition is yet another achievement to follow the Cluster of Excellence 277 Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 673 Alignment in Communication, and the establishment of the Research Institute for Cognition and Robotics (CoR-Lab) as a public-private partnership with the Honda Research Institute Europe (HRI-EU). It will further contribute to strengthening Bielefeld as an international competence and research centre in the field of interactive intelligent systems.

Facts and Figures

  • Interactive Intelligent Systems Research Programme: four closely linked research fields: (1) motion intelligence, (2) attentive systems, (3) situated communication, and (4) memory and learning
  • Interdisciplinary structure: 32 research teams from six disciplines (informatics, biology, linguistics, physics, psychology, and sport science) – 17 of them to be housed in the new research building
  • First place in the Wissenschaftsrat's research buildings competition: outstanding quality and international significance: internationally unique competence centre for interactive intelligent systems
  • Total costs: 32 million Euros: 26.8 million for construction, 2.7 million for basic equipment (office furniture, electronics, etc.), 2.5 million for large-scale scientific equipment – three examples: 
1. Humanoid robot torso and head (equipped with facial expressions for the study of human-robot interaction) 
2. Multisensory interactive room (laboratory with tactile, acoustic, visual, and thermo sensors along with auditory, visual, and haptic displays to assess and respond to human movement and interaction in space. Potential applications: from medical monitoring to information management) 
3. Near infrared spectroscopy system (non-invasive imaging to measure brain activity)
  • Working area: ca. 5300 m² 
  • Central "Lab Core Facilities": innovative and powerful laboratory infrastructure (ca. 1300 m² working area) integrating spatially separated special laboratories. Moreover: concentration of scientific service areas through a central administrative office and a flexible conference room  (260 m² working area)
  • Financing: 50% national government, 50% state government over the nationwide promotion programme for research infrastructure Forschungsbauten an Hochschulen [research buildings at higher education institutes]
  • Construction start: January 2011. Completion: April 2012 (20-month building period). First occupation: August 2012. Start of the contract award procedure: Summer 2010. Procurement and commissioning of large-scale equipment: October 2012 to Summer 2013
  • Main contractor CARPUS+Partner AG, Aachen
  • The research building is a major cornerstone of the new North Campus at Bielefeld University