Press Release

‘Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung’: 20 years of widespread support in education, culture and research

Berlin, September 27, 2019 – With ownership comes responsibility. This principle of social market economy is laid down not only in the German Constitution but also on the website of ‘Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung’. On September 26, this Berlin-based foundation, set up by the husband-and-wife entrepreneurs, celebrated its 20th anniversary. Heinz and Heide Dürr believe that “those who have achieved a certain level of wealth should give something back to society.” This is why, 20 years ago, they transferred 3.5 % of the Dürr AG shares – equivalent to 2.4 million shares – into the foundation. The dividend income helps to fund projects in three areas: science and research, early-years education, and theater. Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung remains one of Dürr AG’s key shareholders.

“Private commitment is a question of responsibility toward society”. This statement by Heide Dürr is the basis of the foundation’s work. Heinz Dürr’s entrepreneurial philosophy is also characterized by his focus on the common good. According to the principle of the family entrepreneur and former head of AEG and Deutsche Bahn, “a company is a social affair”.

Equal education opportunities
In early-years education, the commitment of Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung is based on the early excellence approach. This is founded on the notion that every child is unique and has special potential, and this should be promoted as early as nursery school, in cooperation with parents. “Every child must have the same education opportunities from the very outset”, says Heide Dürr, explaining her commitment to the British early excellence approach. Funds are provided for further education, staffing, grants and networking meetings, among other things. In addition, the foundation supports reading mentoring programs and the German day nursery award, ‘Deutscher Kita-Preis’.

Science in the service of health, society and the environment
The foundation’s contribution to science is spread over three main areas. The first one is research into rare genetic disorders such as research programs on tinnitus and metabolic biochemistry. The second focus is on energy efficiency. The foundation supported the formation of the Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production at Stuttgart University. This institute promotes fundamental research and advises politicians on energy transition. Finally, the foundation’s latest science focus is on digitization. This includes the use of artificial intelligence as well as resulting ethical questions.

Staging new plays
When it comes to culture, Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung reserves a special place for German theater. It can look back at more than 200 grants for stage projects. In cooperation with Deutsches Theater (German Theater) in Berlin and the Berliner Ensemble theater company, it supports authors in developing new plays. The foundation also focuses on smaller playhouses in the German capital, and on introducing children to theater and opera. In addition, it supports Berliner Dokumentartheater (Berlin Documentary Theater) in imparting historical contexts.

Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung employs eight staff throughout Germany, with CEO Isa Baumgarten at the helm. Aside from current projects, the focus is on the contemporary development of the foundation’s activities: “Our support aims will remain the same, but our focal points may change. What is certain is that we will continue to be flexible and monitor changes with a critical eye. It is important that our projects are effective and future-oriented, based on what we have learned from the past”, said Heinz Dürr on the foundation’s 20th anniversary.