Center for Advanced Internet Studies

Expansion of research on digitalization: CAIS becomes an institute with long-term funding

Center for Advanced Internet Studies

The Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) in Bochum will receive long-term funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia from April 2021 and will be expanded into a central research institute. Minister-President Armin Laschet and Minister for Culture and Science Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen will formally communicate the decision to CAIS Director Prof. Dr. Michael Baurmann on 6 May 2021. CAIS will run four research programs to explore digital transformation in all its facets. The state will support the new research institute with an initial 2.1 million euros in 2021, and an annual six million euros in the final phase starting in 2024.

The next three years will see the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) grow into an institute with a total of seven professors, four research programs, and more than 60 employees. Two academic directors from the social sciences and computer science will lead the institute. Four interdisciplinary, five-year research programs will investigate issues to do with the social impact of digitalization.

To identify important research questions and issues for the coming years, CAIS has created a “research incubator”, which will constantly monitor debates on digital transformation in all areas of society and the academic domain. A multi-stage process has already identified a number of research themes: How are digital innovations changing democracy? What role will artificial intelligence play in education? How can digitalization help combat climate change? How far can artificial intelligence be used for the common good?

The first program on digital democratic innovations will commence in October 2021. CAIS director Prof. Michael Baurmann: “Since our programs have a strong thematic and temporal focus, we can react flexibly to social and technical developments. As an institute that is agile and open to learning, we continually absorb input from society and science”. “Real laboratories” turn research findings into approaches that solve concrete problems: for example, CAIS is testing how digital tools can promote sustainable behavior.

The CAIS shareholder group comprises the University of Bochum, the University of Duisburg- Essen, the University of Düsseldorf, the University of Münster, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, and the Grimme Institute. Together, they support CAIS in research, the appointment of professors, and transfer to society. The chair of the supervisory board, Prof. Dr. Andreas Ostendorf, points to the positive atmosphere of cooperation that exists among the shareholders: “The shareholders and the CAIS team have worked together in an extremely productive way to create a high-profile site for innovative research on digitalization”.

CAIS was initially founded as a research center at the beginning of 2017 and has since helped visiting scientists spend up to six months researching in Bochum. The new institute will maintain the research college and the structures that already exist.

Join our live stream showing the formal communication of funding for CAIS at 5:00 pm on 11 May 2021.
For more information on the new institute, visit


Esther Laukötter |