Companies play an important role in German research. Industrial research is the most important pillar of German research outside the public sector. More than two-thirds of the annual funds invested in research come from industry.  

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany make a substantial contribution to new knowledge and discoveries. Although many companies achieve high standards of research themselves, they also invest in collaborations with research partners. Industry-funded research often produces rapidly realisable results and applications

German industry does not always act only as an employer here. Many companies also support research and young researchers or endow professorships. For example, companies finance approx. 500 of the current total of 830 privately funded endowed chairs.  

Nevertheless, the focus is firmly on developing fresh research talent. Young researchers receive targeted support in the form of scholarships and prizes – companies award roughly 13,000 scholarships a year. 

Fostering up-and-coming researchers has a high priority for German companies. They invest 3.3 billion euros a year in students and higher education. The largest single item of expenditure here is the roughly 975 million euros spent on dual study programmes combining higher education and vocational training. 

In the foreground are parts of a complex machine, behind parts of the head of an old researcher with short white hair and glasses can be seen.

Educational investment budget

Some 55% of all companies invest in academic education. Large firms with over 250 employees show the greatest commitment here: 8 out of 10 make investments in this area. Companies spent a total of roughly 3.3 billion euros on academic education in 2015.