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A Foundation of Knowledge
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The Volkswagen Foundation, located in Hanover, has been providing financial support for research projects across all the disciplines since 1962. Despite its name, it is an independent non-profit organization under private law.

The money expended on grants is earned through return on investment of the Foundation’s capital. This means that the Foundation is autonomous and independent in its decision making – a strong basis for a Foundation of knowledge!

Stimuli for Higher Education and Research

The funding granted by the Volkswagen Foundation provides systematic stimuli for science and research: it supports those approaches and developments that address some of the greatest challenges of our time. The Foundation supports accordant research projects from all fields of science.

The framework of the Foundation’s funding profile is formed by funding initiatives that are mostly aimed at emerging areas of research with promising future potential. By means of a concentration on relatively few initiatives, the Foundation ensures that its resources are used to the utmost effect. Not infrequently, by the time an initiative comes to an end its thematic focus has become firmly anchored in the scientific community.

More than € 4 Billion since 1962

The Volkswagen Foundation devotes special attention to the upcoming generation of researchers and to cooperation projects that cross disciplinary, cultural and national borders. Two additional important objectives are encompassed in its efforts to improve the structure of education and research in Germany.

Since 1962, the Volkswagen Foundation has funded more than 30,000 projects with more than € 4 billion. Being a non-profit foundation under private law, this makes it the largest of its kind in Germany.

From the Volkswagenwerk to the Foundation Capital

After the Second World War, the company then known as Volkswagenwerk GmbH was turned into a public company listed at the German Stock Exchange. 60 per cent of the proceeds was transferred to private ownership through the issuing of so-called people’s shares, while the Federal Government and the state of Lower Saxony retained shares of 20 per cent each. The proceeds from this privatization and the annual net profits that remained payable to the State of Lower Saxony and the Federal Government – the Federal Government has meanwhile sold its shares – were transferred to form the assets of the newly founded Stiftung Volkswagenwerk, as it was known until 1989.

The Foundation was set up with independent legal statutes under civil law in the year 1961. It started its activities in 1962. Today it is the task of some 90 employees in the Kastanienallee in Hanover to manage the assets of the Foundation and to put the income to effective use in line with the purpose of the Foundation.