Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. The virus presented us with unprecedented challenges in all areas of our lives and required rapid and massive government intervention. ZEW Mannheim provided scientific impetus to address these challenges, for example, by pointing out the effects of school closures, identifying ways to speed up the production of vaccines and investigating the impact of the ‘Querdenken’ protests on infection rates. The newly published German version of the ZEW Annual Report 2020 provides an interesting overview of this – an English version will be available soon.

Cover picture and side view of the ZEW Annual Report.
Exciting topics could also be well illuminated in 2020 by ZEW's enormous field of research.

“The COVID-19 crisis shows that governments are in great need of evidence-based scientific advice. In 2020, our expertise was in high demand. Thanks to ZEW’s broad research spectrum, we have been able to react quickly to many new topics with well-founded results. I am very pleased that we can contribute to overcoming the crisis with our work,” says ZEW President Professor Achim Wambach.

ZEW successfully reorganises during the pandemic

The pandemic also presented ZEW with new organisational challenges. Hygiene concepts had to be developed quickly, workflows reorganised and new communication channels opened up. Conferences and public events also had to be organised in a completely new way – digitalisation played a key role in this: established face-to-face events such as the “First-Hand Information on Economic Policy” series were held digitally. And with #ZEWlive, #ZEWBookTalk and #ZEWPodcast, the institute launched three new online formats that will continue even after the pandemic. “The COVID-19-related regulations have demanded a lot from us in terms of organisation. Digitalisation had already been an important topic at the institute in previous years. This circumstance was of great advantage to us, as it allowed us to react quickly to the pandemic-related challenges. I would like to thank all employees for their commitment, flexibility and willingness to embrace new things,” emphasises ZEW Managing Director Thomas Kohl.

ZEW further strengthened its research profile

In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual report informs about positive scientific and strategic developments at ZEW, such as the further enhancement of its research profile. After significant preparation in 2020, the “Health Care Markets and Health Policy” Project Group took up its work on 1 January 2021. With Professor Sebastian Rausch, the institute gained an experienced economist as head of the ZEW “Environmental and Resource Economics, Environmental Management” Research Department. Furthermore, Professor Sebastian Siegloch, head of the ZEW “Social Policy and Redistribution” Department, won the prestigious EU-funded ERC Grant for his research on inequality in real estate markets. Other highlights in the past year included the signing of a cooperation agreement with the University of Strasbourg and the successful conclusion of the SEEK research programme, which had been funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg since 2010.

New annual report gives a look behind the scenes

The new annual report also features individual testimonials, in which employees from different ZEW departments comment on how the pandemic has challenged them in their daily work. The ZEW Annual Report’s design is determined by the theme of COVID-19 and graphically captures the mood of the pandemic, reflecting with its design elements the dichotomies between proximity and distance as well as between void and hope.