Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation

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Logo of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation

The Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation ( WE Heraeus Foundation ) is a non-profit foundation under civil law based in Hanau . It was founded in 1963 by the couple Wilhelm Heinrich Heraeus (1900–1985) and Else Heraeus (1903–1987). The childless couple, who owned shares in the Heraeus technology group , bequeathed them to the foundation.

The purpose of the foundation is to promote research and training in the natural sciences, especially physics. The foundation works closely with the German Physical Society (DPG). It is considered to be the most important private funding institution in the field of physics in Germany.

The foundation works both operationally and promotionally. Funding must be applied for in writing. All applications are assessed by a scientific advisory board.

Funding activities

The best-known and oldest funding activity of the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation is the organization of scientific seminars (WE Heraeus seminars). The seminar topics cover all research areas of modern physics including border areas. The hallmark of these workshop-like events is a casual atmosphere that offers plenty of space for informal discussions and personal contacts. The venue is usually the Bad Honnef Physics Center . The seminars are regularly reported in the DPG members' journal (“Physik Journal”). Since 1975, more than 600 WE Heraeus seminars have taken place with a total of more than 36,000 participants, around 40% of them from abroad.

The organization of one or more week international schools (WE-Heraeus-Physikschulen) on current research topics is another outstanding funding program of the foundation. It deals with young research areas for which there are no textbooks yet. Since 1989 there have been around 275 physics schools with a total of almost 15,000 participants.

The so-called WE-Heraeus communication program carried out jointly with the DPG is very popular among physics students in Germany. It offers travel grants for attending DPG spring conferences. The prerequisite is a scientific conference contribution and DPG membership. Since 1989, the foundation has sponsored more than 30,000 students as part of this program.

Since an amendment to the statutes in 1999, the foundation has also promoted activities with the aim of awakening or strengthening interest in the natural sciences among schoolchildren and the general public. This program supports teachers who want to carry out exemplary projects to increase the attractiveness of physics lessons. The foundation also supports physics departments that organize lectures or internships for schoolchildren. Finally, it supports individual projects in schools and extracurricular learning locations, student competitions of all ages as well as exhibitions that use interactive exhibits to convey scientific relationships.

Another focus is the training of teachers and the organization of teacher training. In addition, the foundation awards prizes to schoolchildren and students. As a rule, these are travel grants for participation in important scientific conferences that take place in Germany.

Since the mid-1970s, the foundation has sponsored around 75,000 scientists, students and schoolchildren as part of its programs.


The foundation is managed by a voluntary board of directors. One board member is nominated by the German Physical Society . The board of directors is supported by an advisory body made up of physicists from the academic field. The Vice President of the DPG is an ex officio member of this Advisory Board. The foundation has a full-time managing director.


Advisory Board

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ 1. Physical sheets, January 1995, F-199