The Federal Government places a clear emphasis on higher education, research and high technology through numerous strategies and initiatives, such as the Excellence Initiative (2005–2017), as well as its successor, the Excellence Strategy, the Internationalisation Strategy and the new High-Tech Strategy. Approx. 30 per cent of spending on research and development in Germany is provided by federal and state governments. Government is thus the main sponsor of research in Germany alongside industry.
When it comes to projects of national significance, the Federal Government and the states have defined rules that enable cooperation and influence within the German research area. This applies for example to the funding of large German non-university research organisations: the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the institutes of the Leibniz Association and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Additionally, both the Federal Government and the states support academies of science and humanities as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), which was founded jointly as Germany’s main research funding organisation.
Fundamentally, Germany’s approx. 240 public higher education institutions are funded by the Länder, whose autonomy in cultural and educational matters is anchored in the Basic Law. However, the Federal Government and the states also cooperate when it comes to support for science, research and teaching. Projects of supraregional importance, such as the Excellence Strategy and the Higher Education Pact, are funded jointly.
In addition, the Federal Government finances large-scale scientific research projects (for example, in the fields of aviation, space, marine or nuclear research). Researchers from German universities participate in research projects involving internationally leading large research infrastructures, such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland or the new European XFEL X-ray laser facility near Hamburg.
Government and industry cooperate closely to promote research. Take a closer look at how funding flows.
The Federal Funding Advisory Service on Research and Innovation informs potential applicants about the federal research structure, funding programmes and the points of contact as well as about current funding priorities and initiatives.
The three-volume Federal Report on Research and Innovation 2020 provides comprehensive information about the research and innovation policy of the federal and state governments. The main volume and two supplementary volumes (only in German), as well as a shorter English version, can be downloaded from its own website:www.bundesbericht-forschung-innovation.de