Press Release

1st Berlin Global Forum

The 1st Berlin Global Forum today brings together some 200 international decision-makers from government, business, and society at Berlin’s Westhafen. One of the topics on the agenda is the refugee crisis. The main speaker on this topic is Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery and Chief Refugee Policy Coordinator of the Federal Government.

“At the Berlin Global Forum, we talk about how a strategic refugee policy would have to give equal consideration to the interests of countries of origin, transit and destination. At the same time, we want to take the Forum as an opportunity to support the integration of refugees by funding 100 scholarships. Kiron Open Higher Education is an impressive Berlin-based start-up that has the potential of having a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young refugees and of providing them with an opportunity to take charge of their lives,” says Michael Schaefer, Chairman of the Board of the BMW Foundation. In addition to the donation, the Foundation plans to provide guidance and advice to the founders and activitate its international Responsible Leaders Network on behalf of Kiron.

“We are delighted to have been able to gain the support of the BMW Foundation. We hope that this will also send a signal to other foundations and companies that the integration of refugees is one of the most important tasks we face today,” says Vincent Zimmer, one of the founders of Kiron, about the cooperation with the BMW Foundation.

According to Kiron’s concept, refugees take online courses for two years – without papers, no tuition fees – before transferring to a state-approved partner university. It is only after finishing their second year of study that the students need to submit documents to enrol in one of currently 20 partner universities, which include big names such as RWTH Aachen University, where they can then earn an accredited degree. They are currently able to choose among five programs of study in fields that are experiencing an acute shortage of skilled workers and are much in demand by refugees: computer science, engineering, cultural studies, architecture, and business administration. The mostly English-language online courses are offered in cooperation with established providers of “massive open online courses“ (MOOCs). The courses are made available from universities such as Harvard, Stanford or Yale and are thus of the highest quality.

About the BMW Foundation

The BMW Foundation brings together leaders from across communities, cultures and countries to drive Social Innovation, promote Global Dialogue, and encourage Responsible Leadership. We are convinced that our approach breaks down barriers between politics, business and civil society and allows society to benefit from the creativity and diversity that result from cross-sector collaboration.


Find photos of the 1st Berlin Global Forum on our Flickr account.