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Research organisations

Find out about Germany’s different types of research institutions: universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutes, companies and federal as well as state (Länder) institutions. You can find profiles of each type of research organisation here. 


The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft based in Germany is the world’s leading applied research organisation. Prioritising key future-relevant technologies and commercialising its findings in business and industry, it plays a major role in the innovation process. A trailblazer and trendsetter in innovative developments and research excellence, it is helping shape our society and our future.


Helmholtz Association

The 18 Helmholtz Centres develop, build and operate complex research infrastructures. This includes accelerator facilities, telescopes, research ships and supercomputers that are available to Helmholtz users from around the world. Helmholtz thus pursues long-term research projects that aim to help find solutions to key challenges facing society, science and business.


Leibniz Association

The Leibniz Association is the umbrella organisation under which 97 research institutions address scientific problems that have societal and international relevance. They are characterised by the great variety of their research topics in the humanities and social sciences, as well as in the natural and engineering sciences. Leibniz institutions, universities and industry partners work together on interdisciplinary issues in Leibniz Research Alliances and Leibniz ScienceCampi.



A physicist, Nobel prize winner and the founder of quantum physics, Max Planck was driven by a desire to research and understand. And this is precisely what the research organisation that bears his name has made its guiding philosophy. The Max Planck Society has been very successful with its top-level basic research: it has produced 29 Nobel prize winners who were scientific members of the Max Planck Society or its predecessor, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, in the year in which they received their prize, two of which were women.


Academies of sciences and humanities

This is where the leading scholars of our time work together on behalf of society to regularly discuss scientific questions of an interdisciplinary nature. The primary objective of the academies is to coordinate in particular long-term foundational research projects, to advise policy-makers and the general public on issues relevant to the future, and to promote interdisciplinary dialogue through symposia and other events.


Federal institutions

Germany has 44 federal research institutions that focus specifically on research issues relevant to politics and government. Their scientists work on fundamental research projects and make up-to-date information available on a service-oriented basis. They compile forecasts to draw attention to future challenges at an early stage, or explore the effects of initiatives that have already been implemented. They therefore provide key scientific findings that Germany’s Federal Government needs for its decision-making processes. 


State research institutions

Germany’s federal states also run research institutions. They provide advice to policymakers, pursue research projects and are responsible for activities required by law, such as approvals, testing and the laying down of regulations. Across Germany there are almost 140 state-level institutions covering a broad range of research areas.