Volkswagen Foundation

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Volkswagen Foundation
Volkswagen Foundation logo
Legal form: non-profit foundation under private law
Purpose: Promotion of science in research and teaching
Chair: Georg Schütte (General Secretary)
Consist: since May 19, 1961
Founder: Federal Republic of Germany, State of Lower Saxony
Foundation capital: 3.5 billion euros (2020)
Number of employees: around 100
Seat: Hanover
Office building in Hanover- Döhren with the entrance facing Kastanienallee

The Volkswagen Foundation (proper spelling Volkswagen Foundation ) is a non-profit foundation under private law based in Hanover . It promotes science and technology in research and teaching, the humanities and social sciences as well as natural and engineering sciences and medicine. The foundation enables research projects in promising areas and helps scientific institutions to improve the structural requirements for their work. It pays particular attention to the next generation of academics and the collaboration of researchers across disciplinary and national boundaries.

The foundation is based in a building at Kastanienallee 35 in Hanover-Döhren , which was built between 1967 and 1969 according to plans by the architect Dieter Oesterlen .


The foundation owes its creation to a contract with which the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Lower Saxony regulated the unclear ownership structure at the Volkswagenwerk after the war and at the same time decided to set up a (as it was then called) "Volkswagenwerk Foundation". The then Volkswagenwerk GmbH was converted into a stock corporation, and 60% of the share capital was placed in private hands. The federal and state governments each retained 20% of the then share capital of the new stock corporation. The foundation was established on May 19, 1961 with the proceeds from the sold shares of around DM 1 billion and the claim to the equivalent of the annual profits from the shares remaining in the federal and state governments. The constituent meeting of the Board of Trustees took place on February 27, 1962 in Hanover. The federal government has since sold its stake in what is now Volkswagen AG ; the foundation is entitled to the proceeds. The main purpose of the foundation was and is to promote science in research and teaching .

Foundation assets

At the beginning of 2020, the foundation had a capital of around 3.5 billion euros. The foundation is economically self-sufficient and autonomous in its decisions. Since 1962 it has supported more than 30,000 projects with more than 5 billion euros, and in 2017 it provided around 158.5 million euros for new projects. With the proceeds from the foundation's assets, projects of scientific organizations (universities, research institutes, etc.) are funded upon request and after scientific assessment.


On the basis of the judgment of experts, to which the foundation appoints respected scientists, the proposed projects are awarded by the Secretary General, since January 2020 Georg Schütte , and the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees of the Volkswagen Foundation consists of 14 members, each appointed for five years; half of them are appointed by the federal government and half by the state government of Lower Saxony . A representative of the State of Lower Saxony will chair the event.

The foundation has over 100 employees who work on the funding projects (including the Lichtenberg Professorship and the Freigeist Fellowships), ensure the scientific assessment and are responsible for the asset management of the foundation's capital.

Previous secretaries general

  • 1996–2019: Wilhelm Krull
  • 1983–1995: Rolf Möller
  • 1976–1982: Walter Borst
  • 1975–1976: Rudolf Kerscher, Werner Seifart (acting director)
  • 1962–1975: Gotthard Gambke

Free Spirit Fellowships

The Freigeist Fellowships are a funding program set up in 2012 for scientists from all disciplines with the aim of giving them freedom for independent research in the early stages of their academic careers. They are thematically open and are aimed in particular at young researchers who move between established subject areas.

Lower Saxony advance

According to Section 8 (2) of the Articles of Association, the “Lower Saxony Vorab” consists of three assets: On the one hand, it includes the equivalent of the annual dividend on a nominal 77.3 million Euro VW shares, which the foundation receives from the participation of the State of Lower Saxony Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft is entitled to the investment income of 35.8 million euros from a contract with the State of Lower Saxony from 1987 as well as ten percent of the remaining funds available. At the suggestion of the State of Lower Saxony, it is made available to science organizations in Lower Saxony following a resolution by the Board of Trustees of the Volkswagen Foundation. In 2016, the Lower Saxony advance amounted to around 57.5 million euros.


As a subsidiary of the foundation for the management of real estate, the real estate administration and investment company Dr. A. Steiger KG (IVA), which is also involved in investing the foundation's assets.

Sponsorship award

The Opus Primum sponsorship award has been awarded annually since 2011 for the best young academic publication of the year.


  • Volkswagen Foundation : We donate knowledge - portraits of a learning foundation , illustrated book for the 50th anniversary of the Volkswagen Foundation .
  • Rainer Nicolaysen: The long way to the Volkswagen Foundation , 2 volumes, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2002; ISBN 3-525-86518-X
  • Michael Globig: Providing impulses - generating knowledge: 40 years of the Volkswagen Foundation , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2002; ISBN 3-525-86519-8

Web links

Commons : VolkswagenStiftung  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  3. ,
  4. Fig
  5. Assets: Volkswagen Foundation. Retrieved March 4, 2019 .
  6. 2017 Annual Report: Volkswagen Foundation. Retrieved October 1, 2017 .
  7. Board of Trustees
  8. ^ Website of the Volkswagen Foundation. Retrieved November 22, 2017 .
  9. ^ Lower Saxony advance: Volkswagen Foundation. Retrieved October 1, 2017 .
  10. 57.5 million euros go to universities in Lower Saxony and to new programs and calls for proposals. Retrieved October 1, 2017 .
  11. Stefanie Kaune: Hochtief Solutions signs lease for Herrenhausen Palace , HAZ, November 7, 2012
  12. ^ Press information about the establishment of the Science Forum Berlin and the role of IVA KG
  13. ^ Opus Primum. Retrieved November 22, 2017 .
  14. ^ Illustrated book for the 50th anniversary of the Volkswagen Foundation: Volkswagen Foundation. Retrieved March 12, 2018 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 19 ′ 56.6 ″  N , 9 ° 46 ′ 6.3 ″  E