In recent years, third-party-funded research projects have steadily gained in importance at the KU. In these projects, (interdisciplinary) research groups investigate socially relevant issues in cooperation with an external sponsor – with a focus on knowledge transfer into society. Simon Wiederhold (together with Franziska Hampf, Marc Piopiunik and Ludger Woessmann from the ifo institute) have now been awarded the ifo Prize for Exceptional Achievement in Third-party Funded Research at ifo’s annual meeting. In the project "Acquisition and Utilisation of Adult Skills – A Network for Analysing, Developing and Disseminating PIAAC", the research team showed that cognitive skills are substantially rewarded on the labor market. However, there are significant differences between countries in these so-called returns to skills, as a widely-cited research article in the renowned European Economic Review illustrates. These results are more relevant than ever in the current political discussion due to the COVID-19-related global lockdown of education institutions and its dramatic consequences on skill development.