The Max Planck Society has a very special circle of friends: the Supporting Members. Individuals (Personal Supporting Members) and companies, legal representatives and associations (Corporative Supporting Members) support the Max Planck Society in a variety of ways: they are information disseminators for the issues of the Max Planck Society and can open doors. By means of private financing, they enable special donation projects to be implemented for which there is no public funding available.
Above all, however, Supporting Members can become actively involved in the concerns of the Max Planck Society: they have a seat and a voice in the General Meeting.
The fact that the Society is a legal entity constituted under private law (an incorporated association) contributes significantly to the scientific autonomy of the Max Planck Society: for this reason, being anchored in influential parts of society is of central importance, as is the support from the Supporting Members – something which is reflected in the selection and admissions procedure.
This is also taken into account in terms of the interaction between the Society and the Supporting Members: they receive all the main publications of the Max Planck Society along with an exclusive monthly newsletter and invitations to events held by the institutes and Administrative Headquarters.
The Annual Assembly is a culmination of these exchange activities within the Max Planck Society: the Supporting Members meet for a period of two days with the Scientific Members, where they receive first-hand updates on current research results. In addition, as part of the programme, Supporting Members are exclusively looked after by a special team.
The Senate decides on the admission of new Supporting Members by statute. Discussions are held by the Selection Committee on suitable individuals, companies and institutions, and these are then invited to submit an application to become a Supporting Member.
The Selection Committee consists of five representatives from important committees and bodies:
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schön (Vice President for the Human Sciences Section), Chairperson
Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck (Chairman of the Management Board of Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH & Co.KG)
Heiner van de Loo (Managing Partner of Zahnradwerk Pritzwalk GmbH)
Dr. Siegfried Dais (former Deputy Chair of the Executive Board of Robert Bosch GmbH)
Dr. Ludwig Kronthaler (Secretary General)
“We support the research of the Max Planck Society because we are impressed by the researchers’ creativity and their innate desire to know more – something that is given free reign in the Society. It is overwhelming to see the determination and perseverance with which the scientists pursue their goals. The Society’s endeavours to promote basic research are, without a doubt, worth every effort.”
(Dr. jur. Frauke Schreiter and Dr. med. Friedemann Schreiter, Personal Supporting Members since 1997)
For a list of the individuals who support the Max Planck Society as Personal Supporting Members, please click here.
“Innovative solutions are what propel us ahead in international competition. For this reason, we need excellent basic research – and the Max Planck Society stands for this.”
(Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, former Member of the Board of BASF SE, Corporative Supporting Member since 1951)
For a list of the companies, legal representatives of public and private law, or legally independent foundations and associations that support the Max Planck Society as Corporative Supporting Members, please click here.
Many Supporting Members, in addition to their annual membership subscription, also support special projects that would otherwise be difficult to finance - thus impressively underlining their commitment and dedication to the Max Planck Society.
Pigeons can find their way back over hundreds of miles, but we still do not know exactly how they navigate. This year's donations from the Supporting Members will predominantly be spent on a project to find out just how they do this. Birds are generally considered to have a poor sense of smell. Behavioural biologists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology plan to use an innovative experiment and a special set of tools to demonstrate in free-flying pigeons – never before done in real time – that birds do, in fact, use their sense of smell during navigation. Not only that, they even plan to demonstrate in which regions of the brain these processes take place – a minor methodological revolution, given that this would be the first measurement of brain activity in free-moving vertebrates. We are delighted at the assistance being provided by the Supporting Members and will be reporting on developments as they happen..
We primarily intend to use donations made by Supporting Members this year for an innovative historical guide and exhibition system at Harnack House in Berlin-Dahlem. This Max Planck Society conference venue, which is steeped in tradition, is currently undergoing extensive renovation. A multi-faceted information system on the history of this unique building and its famous guests (including Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Otto Hahn, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower) is to be integrated into the new interior architecture, linking in with the history of the Dahlem campus - the “German Oxford” - as a whole, by completion in summer 2014. We greatly appreciate the backing of the Supporting Members who will be able to experience the fascinating history of Harnack House for themselves after its reopening in 2014 via an information trail featuring presentations and audio and multimedia guides, or read up on it in planned accompanying publications in electronic and print format.
The donations bestowed in 2012 by the Supporting Members have first priority for a teaching lab in the new building at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt am Main. Doctoral students and other qualified junior scientists will be able to work with the most modern neuroscience equipment and computer programs at this training laboratory; a training laboratory for future neuroscientists which has been unparalleled in Germany is now established and is utilized to a large extent by the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Neural Circuits founded in 2011. We particularly depend on private donations to fund equipment only used for teaching purposes and are therefore most grateful for the generous assistance offered by the Supporting Members.
The donations bestowed in 2011 by the Supporting Members have first priority for making a second flight of the sun observatory SUNRISE possible. This special observatory of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau observes our central constellation from a balloon filled with helium seen at a height of 37 kilometres. In this manner it is possible for the first time to clearly break down magnetic structures on the sun. This can help to determine in what way the sun affects the development of the climate. We are very thankful for the financial encouragement the Supporting Members have given to this spectacular project.
The donations bestowed in 2010 have first priority for the expansion of an intensive promotion programme for junior scientists at the new Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne. Here, a unique centre is being created in which the basics of healthy ageing are being researched on an interdisciplinary basis. As part of this research focus, which affects us all, an investment shall also be made in the qualification of the junior scientists. With the aid of these additional donations, which were contributed by more than half of the Supporting Members, the graduate programme can be supplemented with courses in adjacent fields, such as project management, communication and patents.
In the summer of 2010, donators found themselves supporting doctoral students of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Saale) in specific language acquisition (e.g. Rendille, Swahili, Kriol, Uighur) in remote regions. The programme will run for two years, and each programme has ten doctoral students. The Max Planck Support Foundation provides half of the funding in each case.
In 2009, the donations were used for the Bibliotheca Hertziana, the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome: Here, the necessary expansion of the historically significant building presented the Max Planck Society with a major financial undertaking. In the excavation work for the construction of the new library, workers discovered the remains of the ancient “Garden of Lucullus”. Efforts to preserve this historical site significantly delayed construction time and resulted in considerably increased construction costs. More than half of the Supporting Members took this issue to heart and were extremely generous with their support.