In this strategic research area Bielefeld University has carved itself a prominent niche nationally and internationally with a focused profile at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and bioinformatics. Current research focuses range from nanolayers and single-molecule processes through to bacterial, plant, and animal cells, as well as populations of organisms and their behaviour and even cosmology and particle astrophysics. They are driven by interdisciplinary collaboration, in part located at the Centre for Biotechnology (CeBiTec) and the Bielefeld Institute of Nanoscience (BINAS). Beacons in basic research in this research area are high-profile projects such as the DFG Collaborative Research Centres ‘Strong-Interaction Matter under Extreme Conditions’ and ‘A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution’, the coordination of the BMBF-funded German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure (de.NBI) as a national infrastructure providing comprehensive high-quality bioinformatics services to users in life sciences research and biomedicine, as well as participation in the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) consortium. However, this strategic research area is also characterized by high-level industrial collaboration, e.g. with E.ON, Evonik Industries, ZEISS, and Siemens.