About us: The Lower Saxony Institute for Economic Research at the Leibniz University of Hannover

The Lower Saxony Institute for Economic Research at the Leibniz University of Hannover (Niedersächsisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung e.V. i.L. an der Leibniz Universität Hannover, NIW) was founded in 1981 as a non-profit and independent research institute on the initiative of the Lower Saxony federal state government. In June 2016, it was decided to liquidate the institute, after the state government declared the termination of funding. In the 35 years of its existence, one traditional emphasis of the NIWs work was the description, analysis and evaluation of economic developments of the state and its regions. This strategic focus was a unique characteristic and specialty in the NIWs orientation in comparison to other German economic research institutes.

In the many years of its existence, the specific issues and economic approaches were subject to many changes and a constant further development. In particular, the political changes in Europe and the World contributed – not only through the geographical position of Lower Saxony – to chances and challenges, which had to be considered in economic decisions and their underlying analysis. Likewise the economic circumstances in Lower Saxony, Germany and the world changed and change constantly.

The progress in science and research also contributed to the expansion of the spectrum of analysis methods. The institute’s constant evolution with respect to the provision of the current scientific level of knowledge was therefore the most important determinant of the quality of the NIWs specific analysis and consulting offers. It required scientific exchange outside of the boundaries of Lower Saxony and hereby acquired relevant economic expertise.

The NIW was closely connected with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Hannover by a cooperation agreement from 2010, but it was not a part of the university. The cooperation agreement formed the basis for the joint appointment of the academic head of the NIW as professor at the university, as well as for the common activities in research and teaching. In addition to this agreement, the presidium of the Leibniz University of Hannover authorized the NIW in a decision in June 2014 to call itself "Institute at the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Hannover". This emphasized the close and trusting cooperation of NIW and LUH as well as the high scientific quality of the institute's work.

From October 2011 to June 2016, Prof. Dr. Stephan L. Thomsen was the director of the NIW. Vice chairman was most recently Prof. Dr. Sonning Bredemeier. The NIW was given a board of trustees as support, which was presided by the Lower Saxony Minister of Economics, Labour and Transport. The NIW was a member of the Association of German Economic Research Institutes (ARGE).


Spectrum of operations

The spectrum of operations of the NIW as a non-university research facility comprised five dimensions:

  1. Carrying out of research projects through financial contribution of third parties and own works of research,
  2. Knowledge-transfer through publication of scientific results to political, social and scientific agents,
  3. Cooperation with other (economic) scientific research and consulting institutions,
  4. Integration in subject-specific networks, scientific associations and economic advisory boards as well as
  5. Training and qualification of young academic professionals.

The especially empirically oriented economic and regional economic research and consulting services were based on secondary statistic sources. The NIW was equipped with a Germany-wide unique set of data on different regional and structural indicators. Furthermore, own surveys on the basis of full or representative samples or expert discussions were conducted to gain more in-depth knowledge, for example, about local or regional specifics.

The NIWs work was divided into five research fields: