60th anniversary

Milestones of the Robert Bosch Stiftung

Robert Bosch entrusted the Foundation with the task of constantly adapting its work to the requirements of the times. And so the milestones in the Foundation's history are also a reflection of the social challenges of the past decades – from overcoming the Iron Curtain in Europe to raising the standards of education in Germany. A look back at our milestones.

Compiled by
Regina Mennig
Björn Hänssler, Bosch GmbH, Sascha Götz, Robert Bosch Krankenhaus, Charlotte Schreiber
April 02, 2024

Founding of the Robert Bosch Stiftung


Robert Bosch died in 1942. He was an entrepreneur with a sense of social responsibility, a liberal democrat, and an engaged citizen and benefactor throughout his life. It was important to him, for example, that during the politically unstable years of the Weimar Republic, people developed an understanding of democracy. After the experiences of World War I, he worked with great commitment for the reconciliation of nations. He became chairman of the first European unification movement, the Paneuropean Union, joined the Deutsch-Französische Gesellschaft (Franco-German Society) and promoted the Vereinigung Carl Schurz, an association  for German-American understanding. The field of health was also of great interest to him; in 1940, he himself inaugurated the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart.

Robert Bosch made far-sighted arrangements for the continuation of his entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities. In his guidelines for the administration of his bequest, the Vermögensverwaltung Bosch GmbH, he instructed that this be dedicated to "health, education, support for the gifted, reconciliation between nations and the like" (pictured below: The executors of the will in 1954). Bosch refrained from formulating fixed directives. Those responsible should have a free hand in fulfilling his mission – but should continually rethink their work and realign it if necessary.

In 1964, the Vermögensverwaltung Bosch GmbH was given a new structure that ensured its independence for the future, and a few years later it was renamed Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. The Foundation is based at Robert Bosch's former home in the eastern part of Stuttgart.

The executors of the will of Robert Bosch during a conference

Early links to Eastern Europe


In 1974, the Robert Bosch Stiftung takes up the promotion of German-Polish relations – a pioneering act at the time. Direct contact with the communist states behind the Iron Curtain is still unimaginable for many in the Federal Republic of Germany at that time. However, those responsible at the Foundation see relations with Poland and France as key to pan-European understanding.

In Poland, the Foundation developed important formats that would become the basis of its work in Central and Eastern Europe, where it promotes the development of a strong civil society. Programs initiated in Poland are extended to other countries – often in cooperation with Poland. These include the Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg, with which the Foundation supports the civic engagement of young people, and the Lectureship Program, which places university graduates from Germany at Eastern European universities.

It is particularly pleasing that this engagement has created a strong network of its own over the years. With the MitOst association, former Bosch lecturers have joined forces and further expanded their role as mediators in the region (in the photo below, a group of Bosch lecturers attend the MitOst festival in Vilnius in 2004). MitOst is now an important partner in the Foundation's support of Ukraine.

Eine Gruppe von Bosch-Lektoren steht vor einem Gebäude in Vilnius und hört einer Referentin zu

International Understanding Through Culture


In 1985, the Robert Bosch Stiftung creates the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, a unique literary award that quickly becomes one of the most recognized in Germany. The prize spotlights the works of authors with a migration background and raises the visibility of their special contribution to contemporary German literature. The Chamisso Prize winners include authors such as Feridun Zaimoglu, György Dalos, Yoko Tawada, Terézia Mora, Ilija Trojanow and José F. A. Oliver.

In addition, the Foundation's "Grenzgänger" (Border Crossers) program enables authors to take research trips to countries in Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe, and North Africa. The resulting works have helped a wide audience engage with the culture and developments in these countries.

Many authors have won important prizes and awards after receiving support from the Foundation. An outstanding example is the Nobel Prize for Literature for Herta Müller (pictured below), whose award-winning book "The Hunger Angel" ("Atemschaukel") was written with the support of a "Grenzgänger" grant.

Herta Müller is interviewed by the moderator of a festive event

Professionalization of Nursing Care


In 1992, the Robert Bosch Stiftung causes a nationwide sensation in Germany with its memorandum "Nursing needs elites." The paper on the higher education of teaching and management staff in the nursing field is a response to the nursing shortage. The authors called for at least one nursing degree program per federal state within five years – with success: by 1995, there were 30 programs throughout Germany, and by 2000, there were 54. Internships and graduate and postgraduate programs develop young scientists and expertise. The Foundation has thus made a significant contribution to  nursing carve out its place among the scientific disciplines.

In the following years, the Foundation continues to focus on the further development of the healthcare professions. In 2013, it announces a new funding program for interprofessional learning in the healthcare field and publishes the policy paper "Rethinking Healthcare Professions, Restructuring Healthcare Professions." The appeal to policymakers is primarily about improving cooperation between the healthcare professions and aligning them more closely with regional needs. The Foundation is thus the first to address the fact that medical and nursing aspects of vocational training must be better interlinked in the future – and provides impetus for how this can be put into practice with projects such as "360 Degree Nursing" or "Operation Team."

Interdisciplinary learning at the bedside with a manikin

Strengthening Civil Society - Especially after German Unification


Promoting civic engagement has been a key interest of the Robert Bosch Stiftung since its founding. It helps spread good ideas, build networks and overcome startup hurdles. Immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Foundation also promotes civic engagement in the new federal states. With its help, the first shoots of a new, vibrant civil society emerge – this helps shape developments in many regions.

In response to the structural and demographic changes that leave vacancies especially in many regions of eastern Germany, the Foundation develops the program “New Groundbreakers (Neulandgewinner) – inventing the future locally" in 2012 – and meets immediately with a tremendous response. Numerous initiatives are supported over the years. They create meeting spaces in villages and revitalize entire rural areas. Places that had previously struggled with emigration attract new residents thanks to the commitment of the "New Groundbreakers."

Several eastern German states eventually join in the funding. The beneficiaries have now joined forces in the association Neuland gewinnen e.V. to continue exchanging experiences and to provide further support for those engaged in rural development.

Find out more about the program “Neulandgewinner”

"This Program Has Hit a Nerve"

German President Steinmeier wanted to get to know the “Land Reclaimers” who are committed to increasing the quality of life in the countryside.  

Establishment of the German School Award


At the turn of the millennium, Germany’s poor results in the international student assessment PISA fuel a debate about the German education system. The Robert Bosch Stiftung decides to put the spotlight on solutions and bring visibility to outstanding schools in Germany. Together with the Heidehof Stiftung, it launches the German School Award in 2006. The very first award ceremony attracts a great deal of public attention. An elementary school in a socially underprivileged area is named the best school in Germany. Germany’s then-President Horst Köhler presented the main prize and was so impressed by the work at the "Kleine Kielstraße" school that he visited it immediately.

The annual German School Award is now one of the best-known and most prestigious prizes for schools. It has given rise to a wide range of services that make good school practice accessible to everyone and advance the school system as a whole. One example is the German School Portal, the largest German-language platform for school development, with concepts from the award-winning schools and free online training for teachers. Another is the network of award-winning schools, a shared learning space for school development. It also supports projects that develop the practical concepts of the schools and bring them to individual states where they are incorporated into the qualification programs for teachers.

Find out more about the German School Award

German School Award

The award was launched to honor educational achievements and help make them usable to improve the quality of schools all over Germany and in German international schools. The competition is based on six quality...

Professionalization of Geriatric Medicine


Since 2002, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has been committed to strengthening academic geriatric medicine in Germany. Initially, the Foundation supports the further training of young physicians with the Geriatrics Research College. In 2014, the Foundation takes its commitment in the field of geriatrics to a new level and announces the funding of several academic chairs for geriatric medicine. Although demographic change is expected to significantly raise the number of older patients, such positions have until then been rare.
The response is remarkable: half of all universities with medical programs in Germany respond to the foundation's call for applications. Today, geriatrics has established itself as an academic subject in its own right, and many universities are training specialists in geriatric medicine – an achievement also due to the engagement of the Foundation.

Nurse and patient hold each other's hands

Support of Early Childhood Education

In the area of education, the Foundation aims to create fair conditions for everyone, regardless of background and social status – from the very beginning. For this reason, it pays special attention to early childhood education. With the "Forschungskolleg Frühkindliche Bildung," (Research Group on Early Childhood Education), the Robert Bosch Stiftung has focused since 2009 on the qualification of excellent young academics in this field who research and teach at the university and applied sciences level. The aim is to improve the range of academic training available for professionals working in childcare facilities.

As part of the nationwide expansion of daycare in Germany, the Foundation also focuses on the pedagogical quality of childcare. Together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Youth Institute, it launches "WiFF – Advancing Further Education of Early Childhood Professionals" – an approach that strengthens education for the youngest as the basis of the education system.

Drei Kinder sitzen in einer Reihe, zwei Kinder heben die Hand

Founding of the Robert Bosch Academy


With the Robert Bosch Academy, the Foundation opens a new institution in Berlin in 2014  offering renowned decision-makers and experts from all over the world the opportunity to come to Berlin for a working stay. The fellows are invited to participate in the political dialogue in Berlin – and thus enrich public debates in Germany with global voices and perspectives.

The Academy reflects all topics and focal points of the Foundation's work – from health and excellence in school education to international understanding. To date, the Academy has hosted 112 Fellows from 46 nations and six continents. Among the Fellows who have worked and researched at the Robert Bosch Academy are the internationally renowned Eastern Europe expert Ivan Krastev, the co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement Obiageli Ezekwesili, and the former Secretary General of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo.

Video portrait of Kumi Naidoo, Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy 2021

Founding of the Robert Bosch College UWC


In 2014, the Robert Bosch Stiftung establishes the Robert Bosch College UWC in Freiburg - the largest single project in the Foundation's history to this date. The school is part of the network of 18 United World Colleges (UWCs) worldwide. All are based on a special school concept: young people from all over the world and from all social backgrounds live and learn together for two years in an environment that promotes open-mindedness and intercultural understanding.

By establishing the international upper secondary school, the Foundation pursues the goal of bringing people from different nations together through education and contributing to a more peaceful world in the long term. There are 200 places at UWC Robert Bosch College, with 100 young people accepted each year. A quarter of the students come from Germany, three quarters from other countries.

UWC students are selected solely on the basis of talent and aptitude. A scholarship program ensures that all students can afford to attend the school. To date, 781 students from around 100 countries have graduated from Robert Bosch College UWC with the International Baccalaureate, a globally recognized university entrance qualification.

Video talk: Robert Bosch College UWC students talk about what makes their school so special

Foundation of the Bosch Health Campus


In 2022, the Robert Bosch Stiftung establishes the Bosch Health Campus (BHC) – a new center for patient-oriented, cutting-edge medicine with the four focal points of treatment, research, education and empowerment. Today, the BHC facilities are located at Burgholzhof, the headquarters of the Robert Bosch Hospital, as well as a city location in downtown Stuttgart. The Bosch Health Campus brings together the Foundation's diverse work in the field of health. In addition to the hospital, the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute for Clinical Pharmacology, the Robert Bosch Center for Tumor Diseases and the Irmgard Bosch Education Center are integrated into the campus.

Bringing the specialist departments together in one place fosters interdisciplinary care for patients – at the university level and to deal with complex clinical illnesses. The close integration of treatment and medical research is ideal for quickly transferring the results of cutting-edge research into healthcare and thus benefiting patients. Thanks to the campus's own education center, specialists can receive specific training and further education.

The funding area also integrated into the Bosch Health Campus – the Robert Bosch Center for Innovative Health – turns the campus into a living lab: a testing ground for ideas on how to improve healthcare. In these times of rapid innovation, a fast and agile approach is decisive for success. The Bosch Health Campus offers all the prerequisites for this.

Find out more about the Bosch Health Campus
Rethinking health care

Bosch Health Campus

With the newly created Bosch Health Campus, we are bundling our work in the area of health: Read in this dossier what we are focusing on and where the challenges of the future lie.