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 approx. 40 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 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 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. 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

Approx. 40 federal institutions with R&D responsibilities and ongoing cooperation with 8 additional R&D institutions 

18,600 staff, including more than 9,400 R&D personnel; among them around 4,500 researchers 

Internal expenditure: 2.9 billion euros in total, including 1.3 billion euros for R&D (2017)

Research activities

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

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


Research budget federal instituitions 640x360
Source: BMBF

Departmental research institutes are primarily publicly funded. Approx. 4% of these research institutions’ revenues come from their commercial activities. The total budget in 2017 was approx. 2.8 billion euros, with 1.3 billion euros allocated to R&D.