Imperial forms ‘flagship partnership’ with Technical University of Munich


Presidents Wolfgang Herrmann and Alice Gast signed the agreement, alongside TUM's Prof Markus Schwaiger and Dr Hannemor Keidel and Imperial's Dr Daniel Rueckert and Prof Maggie Dallman

Two of Europe’s leading universities have formed a strategic partnership in education, research and innovation.

Imperial College London and the Technical University of Munich are to develop ever-closer ties through a series of new institutional collaborations.

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial, and Professor Wolfgang Hermann, President of TUM, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in London on Thursday 4 October.

TUM physicists work on their magnetic shield (image: Astrid Eckert/TUM)
TUM physicists work with one of the world's most advanced magnetic environments

The move underlines Imperial’s commitment to internationalisation and growing its European connections after Brexit. Imperial is the UK’s most international university, according to Times Higher Education.

In the last decade, Imperial academics published more than 60,000 research papers with their European peers. 20% of the world top ten university’s students and 25% of its staff come from other European countries.

TUM is one of Germany’s most international and entrepreneurial universities, producing highly ranked research, like Imperial, in science, engineering and medicine. .

Innovative partners

Imperial and TUM plan to forge new research links in computer science and informatics, medicine and medical sciences, bioengineering, molecular sciences, life sciences, physics, energy and new materials, and mechanical and aerospace engineering.

By pooling our strengths, we will advance research and innovation to the great challenges of humanity. Professor Wolfgang Herrmann President, TUM

They will develop new student exchanges, research programmes and placements and summer schools, as well as exploring new partnerships with industry.

Both institutions will investigate ways to build on their cultures of enterprise and innovation together, including opportunities at Imperial’s new White City Campus and in Munich. Imperial and TUM are among Europe’s most innovative universities, according to Reuters, which ranked them 2nd and 6th respectively.

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said: “Imperial is a global university, and we are pleased to grow our international connections with a great partner like TUM.

“Imperial and TUM researchers have published hundreds of joint papers in recent years. Our collaborations in sustainable transport, robotics, artificial intelligence and neuroscience are already having a positive impact. We are sure that expanding our research and student exchanges with TUM will bring new discoveries and innovations to society.”

Imperial's Dr Aldo Faisal with President Wolfgang Herrmann in the Data Science Institute
Imperial's Dr Aldo Faisal with TUM's Medical Director Professor Markus Schwaiger in the Data Science Institute

Professor Wolfgang Herrmann, President of TUM, said: “Imperial College is one of the world's best. By pooling our strengths, we will advance research and innovation to the great challenges of humanity at an internationally outstanding level. The new exchange opportunities will also be a pleasure for our students. At the same time, we want to send a strong signal against the dangers of new barriers in the European scientific area. Science is international in itself, and only when it brings together the best minds can it best serve society. We should do everything we can to preserve the historic achievement of unlimited European cooperation."

Common culture

Following the signing, Professor Herrmann and delegation of TUM leaders exchanged ideas for growing the flagship partnership.

TUM leaders in the Data Science InstituteThese included discussions on common areas of excellence in medicine, artificial intelligence, data science, bioengineering, aerospace, molecular science, industry collaboration and enterprise.

President Alice Gast, a TUM Ambassador who previously undertook research at the university, spoke of Imperial and TUM’s “common culture of taking on hard problems, doing excellent research and collaborating freely and openly.”

Professor Herrmann spoke of his "emotional connection" to ImperialPresident Wolfgang Herrmann spoke of his “emotional connection” with Imperial. His mentor and supervisor in the late 1960s, the organometallic chemist Ernst Otto Fischer, had a great rivalry with Imperial’s Geoffrey Wilkinson. Their independent efforts to understand so-called “sandwich compounds” led to them sharing the Nobel Prize in 1973 and forming a friendship out of their academic friction.

Imperial’s Vice President (International) Professor Maggie Dallman, Head of Computing Professor Daniel Rueckert, Reader in Neurotechnology and AI Dr Aldo Faisal, Director of Financial Strategy John Anderson and Co-Director of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace Professor Oscar Ces briefed the TUM group.

Their TUM counterparts included President Herrmann, Professor Markus Schwaiger, Medical Director at Rechts der Isar Hospital, Dr Hannemor Keidel, Adviser to the President, and Bettina Burger of TUM’s International Office.

They visited Imperial’s Data Science Institute and toured the White City Campus, where they visited the Imperial Incubator, I-Hub and The Invention Rooms.

Two people in Imperial College Advanced Hackspace
The TUM Makerspace and Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (pictured) both cultivate student entrepreneurship.

Growing European ties

On the morning of the Brexit referendum result, Imperial’s President Alice Gast pledged that “Imperial is, and will remain, a European university.”

Since then, Imperial has developed a series of new European partnerships, including a major new London-based centre of mathematics, UMI Abraham de Moivre, with France’s CNRS: Europe’s largest fundamental research agency.

Presidents Herrmann and Gast signing the agreement


Andrew Scheuber

Andrew Scheuber
Communications Division

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