Background
The Hertie Foundation was set up in 1974 by the heirs of Georg Karg, the department store owner, and is now one of the largest foundations in Germany not connected to a company or ideology.
Mission
The work of the Hertie Foundation focuses on two key issues: brain research and strengthening democracy. The foundation’s programmes and initiatives provide best-practice examples and inspiration within these areas. In order to act freely and put our founder’s intentions into practice using contemporary methods, the Hertie Foundation generally runs its own projects, but it also provides funding support. The focus is always on people and on making tangible improvements to their living conditions.
Geographic focus
Europe
Programme areas
Brain research
The brain is the most fascinating organ of the human body. Research on the brain and its diseases is one of our founder’s stated intentions and is more relevant today than ever before. 27 per cent of all EU citizens are affected by some form of brain disorder. Alzheimer’s disease in particular will be a major challenge for society in the future. In the area of neuroscience, the Hertie Foundation promotes research and dialogue on the subject of the brain and combatting brain disease. The Hertie Foundation is the biggest private funding body supporting brain research in Germany, and the third largest in Europe.

Democracy
Strengthening democracy and securing social cohesion in Europe is an aim enshrined in the foundation’s constitution. Democracy forms the basis for peace, freedom and security, and is a pillar of our society. However, there is a loss of confidence in democracy among Europe’s citizens nowadays. Criticism of capitalism, EU scepticism, integration problems and the strengthening of the political fringes are warning signs. People’s confidence in the ability of the established political powers to solve problems is dwindling. We want to convince people – the younger generation in particular – that a commitment to democracy is worthwhile.

In addition, the foundation supports:
• Hertie School of Governance: an international teaching and research centre of excellence that prepares students for leadership positions in government, business, and civil society.
• Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research: the largest and most up-to-date centre for research and treatment of neurological diseases in Germany.