Research Campus MODAL
The Forschungscampus ("Research Campus") MODAL is a platform for a public-private innovation partnership established by ZIB and Freie Universität Berlin together with more than 30 participating companies. The research campus MODAL---its acronym derived from "Mathematical Optimization and Data Analysis Laboratories"--- is located at ZIB where more than 60 researchers from the public and private sector are working alongside in jointly-run laboratories. Throughout its first phase (2014-2020) and its second phase (2020-2025), MODAL has been and will be funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with about 2 million euros per year and supported by industry partners with an even larger amount.
MODAL’s main objective is joint research in the field of optimization of data-driven processes. We aim at transferring process modeling, simulation and optimization (MSO), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning into cross-sectional technologies for digital production and business processes. Utilizing the rapid progress in basic research in these fields demands an integration of available technical and business data into simulation methods and learning systems for the precise prediction and optimal control of process flows. Associated with this are important open research questions for a multitude of applications in industry, trade, or various service sectors. Consequently, MODAL's research program is not restricted to a specific industry or technology, but aims at a broad spectrum.
The scientific and technical focus is on digital decision support systems, which are developed in cooperation with industrial partners and adapted to the relevant processes in the respective companies, catering to, e.g., available data. There is an increased need for action in Germany at this interface, whose importance has been recognized by the economy, politics, and society. At the same time, it has become clear that traditionally established procedures must be overcome if digitization is to unfold its full potential.
In the first funding phase, MODAL selected the areas of mobility, sustainable energy supply, secure communication, and personalized medicine as main topics of its research program. Despite this broad range of topics, these different areas are characterized by a strict coherence of content, which results from the mathematical methodology competence with a focus on MSO and AI and also on high-performance solvers (SynLab) and high-performance computing (HPCLab); the latter through the second funding phase. These horizontal core competencies are complemented by vertical application competencies in relation to specific data-driven economic processes (EnergyLab, MobilityLab, MedLab, NanoLab). The resulting competence matrix for the second funding phase is illustrated in the picture above.