S. Schröder, C. Jooß, A. Richert, I. Isenhardt

RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
In June 2012 the further funding of the cluster of excellence “Tailor Made Fuels from Biomass” (CoE-TMFB) at RWTH Aachen University (2012-2017) was announced by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Wissenschaftsrat (WR - German Science Council). In this context the Supplementary Cluster Activities (SCA) within the cluster of excellence were enlarged to expend the promotion of an effective and efficient cross linking of CoE members by means of knowledge engineering and knowledge transfer, such as the determination and measurement of cluster-specific key performance indicators.

Overall, the SCA aspire to ensure the high quality of research by measuring and evaluating the performance of the cluster. Therefore inter alia in the first funding period a cluster-specific Balanced Scorecard was implemented and regularly adapted for the requirements of the cluster. This yearly evaluation rather deals with performance measurement on a meta level, admits a cluster wide overview of research level and gives recommendations for action to the cluster management. The augmenting dynamic and complexity of scientific forms of cooperation require new approaches for interlinking people and knowledge from different disciplines to enable people for succeeding in interdisciplinary cooperation and in general lead the CoE-TMFB to success.

Preliminary studies, e.g. empirical analyses as well as recommendations of the WR, offer further valuable clues to relevant indicators of scientific processes such as in CoE-TMFB. Here the combination of quantitative and qualitative parameters is discussed to measure performance in a complex cluster. Therefore the further development of performance measurement in the second funding period will establish a scientific-process-tracking tool (SPT) which supplements the contemporary cluster-specific Balanced Scorecard and target interdisciplinary performance comparison on sub-project (micro) level. For this purpose it is necessary to analyze and operationalize the requirements i.e. of the management, industrial partners or the research funding organizations. More importantly thematic key aspects such as output, multidisciplinarity, international presence, impact of the cluster as a system and internal process enhancement have to be considered and integrated in the SPT-tool. This will operate parallel to the BSC and supplement the contemporary evaluation approach.

While measuring the degree of target achievement is supposed to be more relevant in DFG-audits, the quality of internal, interdisciplinary processes is an important indicator of cluster-internal target achievement, too. The improvement of the quality of processes will be supported by the investigation of potential for optimization and efficient cross-linking of the CoE members. This aspires a more efficient use of resources parallel to a continuously high quality of research results. The vision of SCA is to foster interdisciplinary exchange and a continuous comparison of research achievements of the CoE in accordance with the overall vision of the cluster and the DFG performance criteria.