Federal institutions

Federal institutions Robert Koch Institute 640x360
View inside the high-security S4 laboratory chamber at the Robert Koch Institute.

Germany’s federal ministries fund 42 federal R&D institutions. In addition to this, the ministries constantly work with other research institutions. This departmental research is always directly related to the respective ministry’s field of activity. The main objective of this kind of research is to support the ministry’s activities and provide the necessary scientific basis for the execution of government measures

One example of a departmental research institute is the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, which is responsible for disease control and prevention. It is the central reference institution for both applied and response-oriented research as well as for the public health sector, and has been playing a leading role in combating the corona pandemic.

Another example is the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). BAM is responsible for increasing safety and reliability in chemistry and materials technologies, including statutory regulations on safety standards and threshold values. 

Facts and figures

42 federal institutions with R&D responsibilities and ongoing cooperation with 8 additional R&D institutions

19,300 staff, including more than 9,700 R&D personnel; among them 4,900 researchers

Internal expenditure: 2.4 billion euros in total, including 1.2 billion euros for R&D (2018)

Research activities

Federal research institutions perform research in nearly all areas. The researchers deal with current issues, such as: 

  • The impact of modern technologies 
  • Health and nutrition 
  • Mobility and urban development 
  • Environment, energy and climate protection 
  • Changes to working and living conditions


Research budget federal instituitions 640x360
Source: Federal Statistical Office; deviation in the total amount is due to rounding

Departmental research institutes are primarily publicly funded. Approx. 5% of these research institutions’ revenues come from their commercial activities. The total budget in 2018 was approx. 2.4 billion euros, with 1.2 billion euros allocated to R&D.