Innovations for the digital society: Beginning of the first research program at CAIS


Esther Laukötter

Science Communication Officer

Innovations for the digital society
Beginning of the first research program at CAIS


Bochum, 29.09.2021


 “Digital democratic innovations” is the title of the first research program that will start in October at the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) in Bochum. Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber will lead the program for the next five years at CAIS, and will be on leave from the University of Duisburg-Essen during this time. He and his team will research how democracy changes in a digital society, and how it can be fostered by digitalization.

How do political decision-making processes change when voting or elections are supported digitally? How can digital tools and virtual spaces improve participation by the general public? Researchers at CAIS are investigating how new technologies can be used for the public good: “We are currently seeing that digital tools can give a voice to people who would otherwise not be heard. Modern processes of negotiation nonetheless ignore the concerns of many people because they lack access or skills. Our focus is on the conditions under which digital innovations can strengthen the public good in democratic processes”, explains Professor Bieber.

The research program is a result of the newly developed “CAIS Research Incubator”, which is based on a process of searching systematically for topics, and which involves numerous experts not only from academia, but also from different areas of society. The focal points of the program are therefore highly topical. “The launch of the first research program is the next major milestone in the development phase of our research institute. It will show how we work at CAIS: namely, in a way that is scientifically sound, methodologically innovative, and development-oriented”, says CAIS director Prof. Dr. Michael Baurmann.

The research program is committed to an open understanding of science and will use innovative methods such as data donations, citizen science, and real-world laboratories to advance new forms of data collection and evaluation, and the use of these data in an application-oriented way. The research results will therefore not only help science, but will also be used and tested in various practical areas. “We are aiming to collaborate from the outset for example with smart city managers from Bochum, Krefeld, Gelsenkirchen, and other cities in the Ruhr region”, says Bieber.

 Further research programs planned

Beginning in mid-2022, the next research program will be on educational technologies and the role of artificial intelligence. Moreover, research programs will begin in the course of 2023 on “Sustainability and digitalization”, and on “Trustworthy artificial intelligence”.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber

Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber wird das erste Forschungsprogramm am CAIS leiten. (Foto: Michael Schwettmann, CAIS)



The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has provided long-term funding for the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) in Bochum as a central institute for digitalization research since April 2021. By proposing evidence-based solutions, CAIS contributes to shaping the digital transformation in the interests of the general public. CAIS was founded as a research college at the beginning of 2017, and has since awarded fellowships to national and international guest researchers in the field of digitalization research. CAIS is supported by the University of Bochum, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the University of Düsseldorf, the University of Münster, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, and the Grimme Institute in Marl.


Further information on the research program can be found here.