Leading the way into the future

In July 2019, TUM was once again awarded the title ‘University of Excellence’. With a prize money of 105 million euros for the timeframe of 2019 to 2026, the TUM AGENDA 2030 can now be implemented. President Thomas F. Hofmann explains what this is all about and where TUM will break new ground in the future.

Innovation through talent, excellence and responsibility is the subheading of the strategy for the future ‘TUM. THE ENTREPRENEURIAL UNIVERSITY’, with which TUM gained the rating ‘University of Excellence’ in July 2019: for the third time in a row. This success is based on the entrepreneurial spirit, the innovative power and the excellently trained talents of our university, with which TUM has made a significant contribution to social development and to the shaping of the internationally renowned brand ‘Made in Germany’ in its 150-year history. Once upon a time, inventors such as the young Carl von Linde, professor of Mechanical Engineering, developed the first refrigeration machine suitable for practical use, and Rudolf Diesel redefined mobility with his engine. Today, deeptech start-ups founded at TUM and by TUM Alumni such as Celonis (process mining), NavVis (indoor navigation systems), Konux (AI/IOT sensors) or Lilium (air taxis) give important impetus to the design of tomorrow’s world with their innovations.


The renewed title of excellence also signifies the entrepreneurial courage and the pioneering spirit with which TUM is opening up to future developments in the next decade. With the TUM AGENDA 2030, we are making the university more dynamic, more capable of transformation and geared to the technological and social challenges of our time.

Exponential technological leaps in digitisation, miniaturisation and biologisation bring breathtaking changes in science, economy and society, which TUM wants to shape through brand-building collaborative research. At the same time, rapidly changing labour markets and social paradigm shifts pose new, historical challenges to the training of future talent and to innovation processes, products and services across all sectors of technology: Energy & Climate · Resources & Environment · Mobility & Infrastructure · Health & Nutrition · Information & Data Security. TUM is committed to aligning its research and innovation processes more closely with the values, needs and expectations of society.


Responsible Research and Innovation – this is TUM’s future mission! With this assignment, we address relevant scientific questions and are launching one of the most far-reaching reform initiatives in the history of our university. Building on the outstanding success and the valuable brand of German Engineering, we want to lead our engineers into the conceptual world of a modern society. To this end, we continue to develop engineering, which is traditionally strongly product- and production-oriented, into ‘human-centred engineering’, which focusses on user functionality.

We are initiating a fundamental modernisation of our research and teaching formats. Our new credo on the way to responsible, socially acceptable and sustainable innovations is the integrative cooperation of Engineering, Natural and Life Sciences and Medicine with technology-oriented Humanities, Social Sciences and Economics. To do so, we rely on the success of our Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS), the TUM School of Governance and the Bavarian School of Public Policy (HfP), expand our Humanities and Social Sciences with a unique technological profile and integrate them on a broad scale into the Natural and Engineering Sciences.

Also the fields of expertise of Neuroengineering and Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) will be expanded. Thus, the new TUM Institute for Data Science, integrates the breathtaking advances in Data Science and Processing Power into current fields of application, which promises transformative developments. The TUM Institute for Technology Design will provide us with ‘Design Thinking’ methods in teaching, research and innovation processes with the aim of opening up new solutions to complex technical problems that are user-oriented and functionally optimised.


The future of TUM is based on its strong foundation of disciplinary profiles, but it belongs in particular to brand-shaping and transformative collaborative research. To this end, we transcend the limitations of TUM’s conventional organisational structure and align our subject classification with the more flexible governance structure of a matrix-linked system of schools. Seven schools will replace the familiar 15 departments, which will expand TUM’s radius of action at the interfaces of the classical disciplines and, with the University Hospital rechts der Isar and the German Heart Centre Munich, will also include TUM’s strong medical activities.

In order to boost the scientific interactivity of TUM in interdisciplinary focal points relevant to the future, we will establish ‘TUM Innovation Networks’, which serve as cooperative alliances between the schools while still being integrated into the system. In this way we flexibly address the major social challenges in a discipline-based, as well as interdisciplinary manner, so that not only scientific-technical aspects but also creative-functional, political, social, economic and moral/ethical implications can be considered. A service-oriented university administration, which will be significantly more efficient through digital processes and internationally experienced personnel, will strengthen this matrix structure.


We will generate these interactive synergies beyond the borders of TUM and reach into the Munich metropolitan region in order to effectively meet the international competition of innovative ecosystems such as the Bay Area, the London Golden Triangle or the Greater Boston Area. With the ONE MUNICH strategy, TUM and LMU are implementing a strategy-building process aiming at consistently aligning Munich’s strong scientific and economic environment with the strategic use of potential for interaction and synergy in future-oriented fields. In doing so, we want to attract innovators from all over the world, develop Munich into a European hub for business creation and accelerate the economy’s and society’s diffusion and adaptation of innovative technologies, products and services.


The new matrix structure is also addressing the need for action to modernise teaching, which today needs to be geared towards the prospective labour markets of tomorrow. Current students will frequently be changing their employers in the course of their future careers. The skill profiles for global labour markets expected from students are changing rapidly; a career in the future will span almost half a century and will require continuous education and training. Alumni who are successful in the long term have learnt to work efficiently with people from different disciplines, mindsets, cultures and backgrounds.

In order to account for this change, we are establishing the TUM Institute for Study and Teaching with the mission of developing more personalised study programmes across schools, which are geared not only to the skills profiles of future labour markets, but also to the motivations and talents of our students. However, being technically profound is no longer sufficient for a course of study. We will get rid of outdated content, dissolve traditional boundaries between disciplines and embed Informatics as a new element into the basic canon of our degree programmes. By integrating Humanities and Social Sciences into modern teaching, we want to instil a new mindset for responsible thinking and acting, and support students in sharpening their sense of values.

With the ‘TUM. The Open University Initiative’ we introduce a phase transition: from studying at TUM once towards lifelong further and advanced training. With tailor-made offers TUM wants to keep its working alumni, executives and technical experts from the economic sector competitive and professionally successful. The idea of TUM being a companion for its alumni’s life and career is supported by the new TUM Institute for Lifelong Learning, which, as a new profile sharpening element of TUM, addresses professional advanced training, as well as in-house advanced training. Even more than today, TUM will be a place for the entire TUM Family to return to again and again. A place where people from the sciences, business and society can be inspired and receive further training, challenge each other and work together in processes of innovation.

Our strategy for the future, the TUM AGENDA 2030, is a comprehensive reform package, which will make TUM a global centre of knowledge exchange, further develop existing potentials and open new pathways into the future. Our common goal is and remains to master the social challenges of the future through innovation and to sustainably improve people’s lives and their coexistence.