The awards of the ZEW Sponsors’ Association for Science and Practice are an integral part of the academic year at the institute. The award is granted to honour outstanding scientific performances and economic policy advising projects. The prizes each come with an endowment of 5,000 euros.

 The prize money for outstanding achievements is 5,000 euros each.
The prize for the best scientific achievement at ZEW in 2019/2020 goes to the team of the study “The Long-Term Costs of Government Surveillance: Insights from Stasi Spying in East Germany” of the ZEW Research Unit “Social Security and Distribution”. The study “Text Data-based Output Indicators as the Basis of a New Innovation Metric (TOBI)”, from the Unit “Innovation Economics and Business Dynamics” was awarded as the best economic policy consulting project.

The prize for the best scientific performance at ZEW in the period 2019/2020 went to Professor Sebastian Siegloch, head of the ZEW Research Department “Social Policy and Redistribution”, and his co-authors Junior Professor Andreas Lichter and Assistant Professor Max Löffler. In their study entitled “The Long-Term Costs of Government Surveillance: Insights from Stasi Spying in East Germany”, the researchers show how the surveillance activities of the Stasi, the state security service of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), have had a long-term negative effect on the interpersonal trust, cooperative behaviour and political engagement of those affected. The empirical analysis provides evidence that the loss of social capital caused by Stasi surveillance still has negative consequences for the economic performance of former GDR citizens today. The award-winning paper will soon be published in the Journal of the European Economic Association.

The study “Text Data Based Output Indicators as Base of a New Innovation Metric” was awarded the prize for best economic policy advising project. Under the project leadership of Dr. Georg Licht and Professor Irene Bertschek, the research team consisting of Janna Axenbeck, Patrick Breithaupt, Dr. Jan Kinne and Dr. Christian Rammer developed a procedure that expands conventional firm-level data sets to include web-based data. With the help of these output indicators, websites can be analysed in a very short time using artificial intelligence, enabling users to gain deeper insights into the products, services and standards of companies and identify underlying trends in the development of products, services and business models. This allows companies to stay ahead of their competitors and react quickly to market changes. This project also formed the basis for the founding of ISTARI, the first spin-off company associated with ZEW Mannheim – a further indication for the innovative performance of the research team.

Excellent Research and Policy Advice at ZEW

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s award ceremony, including the laudatory speech, will be postponed until next year. Dr. Georg Müller, the chair of the ZEW Sponsors’ Association, emphasised at the digital general meeting on 8 December 2020 that both projects were met with great response, and that they have contributed to strengthening the visibility of ZEW. While the first spin-off from the ZEW is an outstanding achievement, the study on the long-term effects of authoritarian forms of organisation makes a special contribution to the debate on living conditions in East and West Germany. “The two science prizes honour excellent research and advisory projects at ZEW,” said ZEW Managing Director Thomas Kohl. “This year’s winners have made a particularly great contribution to boosting knowledge transfer and strengthening ZEW’s reputation. I am very pleased that the ZEW Sponsors’ Association is honouring these achievements and that the prizes have been awarded for the third time now.”

The general meeting of the Sponsors’ Association was also used to introduce the association’s new logo and new general appearance. The modernised brand image met with great approval from the members.