Artificial Intelligence is already part of our everyday lives – in smartphones, cameras, our social media feeds or even in our bank accounts.
Some of the basic and applied research that made these features possible, is being conducted in Germany.
On this page, we would like to show you more about the AI research landscape in Germany, and give you an overview on the various projects, institutes and networks that focus on AI, as well as different funding programmes that allow you to plan your next career step in Germany.
Who does AI research in Germany?
AI research in Germany is conducted at universities and also at non-university research institutions. Almost all universities host an AI research section. The spectrum ranges from small monothematic working groups to large interdisciplinary departments and covers a variety of topics.
For a first comprehensive overview, please take a look at our poster “Research in Germany - Artificial Intelligence Research”.
Research institutions focusing on AI research
Here are now some examples of outstanding institutions and projects that focus on AI research, both at non-university and university-based research institutions:
The aim of the Cluster of Excellence is to enable machine learning to take a central role in all aspects of scientific discovery and to understand how such a transformation will impact the scientific approach as a whole. The research cluster was established in 2019 and is funded by the German Research Foundation. It brings together scientists from various disciplines of the sciences and the humanities.
While machine learning methods have been used in the past to tackle isolated prediction problems, recent breakthroughs open up an exciting new opportunity: Automated inference methods will become increasingly useful in the process of scientific discovery itself, supporting scientists in identifying which hypotheses to test, which experiments to perform, and how to extract principles describing a broad range of phenomena.
The Cluster of Excellence aims to drive new developments in machine learning, by identifying and solving overarching problems that are common to many scientific disciplines. It pursues to advance scientific application domains by creating a sustainable impact on science through machine learning. Last but not least, the researchers of the cluster investigate long-range implications of the envisioned transformation of science through machine learning. They study possible consequences on the general scientific approach using methods from philosophy of science and research ethics.
Founded at the end of 2016, Cyber Valley has quickly grown into Europe’s largest ecosystem for research and innovation in machine learning and related fields. Located in southwestern Germany, Cyber Valley counts four academic partners, namely the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen, the Max Planck Society, and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. It also comprises seven industrial partners, a start-up network, and an investor network. Cyber Valley’s overarching aims are to train the AI researchers of the future, promote knowledge and technology transfer between basic and applied research, and foster a culture of entrepreneurship among scientists in the Stuttgart-Tübingen region. Of course, none of this would be possible without outstanding basic research: with a growing number of professorships, research groups, and clusters of excellence, Cyber Valley institutions have some of the world’s leading scientists among their faculty. At present, the Cyber Valley ecosystem counts more than 1000 researchers, among them 160 PhD students.
The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, DFKI, ranks among the most recognized “Centers of Excellence” in the international scientific community. DFKI projects cover the whole spectrum from application-oriented basic research to market- and client-oriented design of product functions. Currently, DFKI is the biggest research center worldwide in the area of AI and its application in terms of number of employees and volume of external funds. The financial budget in 2019 was 57.5 million Euro from public national and European research grants as well as industrial contracts. About 1,080 employees from more than 65 countries are conducting research in all major areas of AI. The fundamental orientation of DFKI is human-centric AI.
Shortly after the advent of Deep Learning, DFKI launched its Deep Learning Competence Center (DLCC) with the cross-sectional functionality to connect DL competences across DFKI. Across the 21 research departments, DFKI‘s DLCC brings together hundreds of experts focusing on the development and application of Deep Learning approaches in their respective fields. Apart from pushing the limits in each domain, the DLCC especially focuses on current DL specific research areas such as Efficiency, XAI, Robustness, Trustworthy AI, Small Data, Unsupervised / Self-supervised Learning, Generative Approaches, collaborating with other researchers and experts, and teaching these novel approaches to a new generation of students embracing machine learning.
The Max Planck Society is an internationally recognized, autonomous science organization with a long standing tradition. Excellent minds, a high degree of freedom and outstanding work conditions create the foundation for basic research at the very highest level. And thus 20 Nobel Prize laureates are among the ranks of the Max Planck Society, since its creation in 1948. Max Planck researchers, distributed within 86 Max Planck Institutes and facilities in Germany and five other countries, strive to extend frontiers and advance into new dimensions of knowledge. We hire the best scientists worldwide and give them everything they need to pursue their mission.
Within the Max Planck Society, Research activities on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are mainly performed at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (https://is.mpg.de/en) but also partially at Max Planck Institutes for Informatics (https://www.mpi-inf.mpg.de/home), and for Software Systems (https://www.mpi-sws.org/). The Max Planck Society is one of the four academic partners of the Cyber Valley, and together with ETH Zürich created the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems (https://learning-systems.org/), a joint research center offering unique opportunities for PhD students and postdocs.
The Hesse Center for Artificial Intelligence - hessian.AI - is a newly founded Hessian research center for artificial intelligence, located in the Rhine-Main-area in the middle of Germany. Hessian.AI…
- aims to further advance cutting-edge research shaping the third wave of artificial intelligence
- focuses on specific practical applications to seek answers to the important challenges of our time
- transfers knowledge to business and society.
The vision of hessian.AI is to gain a leading position in the research of Third Wave of AI in which machines are more than just tools that execute human-programmed rules or generalize from human-curated data sets. The machines we envision function as colleagues, not as tools. Hessian.AI offers an outstanding and vibrant research environment by bundling the expertise of 22 internationally renowned researchers. In the next 3 years, hessian.AI will fill 20 well-equipped new professorships in the fields of AI algorithms, AI systems, synergy between artificial and natural intelligence and AI transformation. Moreover, hessian.AI has an excellent compute infrastructure and offers a holistic framework of additional supporting programs (e.g. measures for early AI-career promotion, professional support for AI-innovation, exchange programs etc.). Hessian.AI is backed by 13 universities in Hesse comprising different types of institutions and bringing together their various strengths. The state of Hesse is providing funding of 38 million Euros for a five-year development phase. Hessian.AI is coordinated by Technical University of Darmstadt which has an outstanding and Germany-wide unique interdisciplinary research profile in computer science and artificial intelligence and is regularly ranked among the best German computer science faculties. Research on artificial intelligence at TU Darmstadt has the necessary interdisciplinarity to open up the full potential of AI in an inspiring and broad manner. Technical University of Darmstadt is member of the European AI networks ELLIS and CLAIRE. The hessian.AI team at TU Darmstadt are holding several prestigious ERC grants and has received numerous scientific recognitions such as EurAI, ACL, IEEE and ELLIS Fellows, the German AI Award, the EurAI Dissertation Award, IEEE Robotics & Automation Early Career Award, and several Best Paper Awards at leading AI venues.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Research is also conducted at various other DFG funded projects, such as:
- Providing Information by Resource-Constrained Data Analysis
- Robust Vision — Inference Principles and Neural Mechanisms
- Data Assimilation – The Seamless Integration of Data and Models
- Everyday Activity Science and Engineering (EASE)
- Foundations of Workflows for Large-Scale Scientific Data Analysis (FONDA)
- Quantitative Methods for Visual Computing
- Crossmodal Learning: Adaptivity, Prediction and Interaction
- Foundations of Perspicuous Software Systems – Enabling Comprehension in a Cyber-Physical World
- Constructing Explainability
Funding for AI researchers in Germany
Whether you are a young international researcher looking for a scholarship, an early career researcher wanting to pursue a PhD in the field of AI research at a German graduate school, or a more experienced researcher who wants to start a collaboration with a German partner – the right funding programme can help you with your next career step. Finding the right programme can make all the difference.
Here are some funding programmes and projects especially for AI researchers:
The DFG (German Research Foundation) has launched a strategic funding initiative in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Projects from all areas of AI research are to be financed in various funding programmes in the years 2020 to 2022 as part of the initiative.
Artificial intelligence techniques are increasingly becoming an integral part of the research process in many branches of science. In recognition of this, the AI initiative addresses different areas of action: On the one hand, it highlights the need for top-level academic research in this area closely interlinking research on AI methods with basic research in the disciplines in which AI methods are increasingly being used. At the same time, success in the competition for the best researchers in this field plays an important role in terms of positioning Germany’s AI research landscape internationally.
Check out https://ai-initiative.dfg.de/ for more information on these funding opportunities.
Freedom for creative ideas and ideal conditions for independent research – these are the opportunities that an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship offers to leading researchers who come to Germany from abroad to pursue research on Artificial Intelligence or its broader implications.
The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship is the most valuable research award in Germany. Award winners are nominated by German universities with the aim of conducting research in Germany long term. For this purpose, they receive up to five million euros for their research which can be used very flexibly. The award amount covers the first five years of financing a professorship. When nominating a candidate, the universities submit a strategy for continuing to sustainably finance the professorship when this period comes to an end.
Six Alexander von Humboldt Professorships for Artificial lntelligence can be granted annually. Researchers from all disciplines who focus on the investigation and use of AI as well as its societal impacts are eligible to be nominated.
Twitter: @AFAvH, @AvHStiftung
This new initiative by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) – connects Postdocs to top researchers in their research field and provide insights into the research system, career options and employers expectations in Germany. At the core of the program is a five-days information visit for all successful participants covered by the DAAD, including comprehensive information and networking before and after the trip. All applicants will be granted access to comprehensive information on the host institutions and on funding opportunities. Additionally, it offers information sessions on research funding and opportunities in Germany to all applicants and offer even more events for shortlisted candidates.
Apply for the Networking Tour in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence: www.daad.de/ainet/apply
You can find even more funding opportunities in our brochure „Funding your research in Germany“.
Funding your research in Germany (2021-2022, 76 pages)
A selection of funding programmes for German and foreign academics run by the most important research funding institutions. Target group: international students, graduates, post-docs and academics interested in a research stay in Germany.
Most of the funding programmes that are included in the brochure, are offered by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. You can find more detailed descriptions of these organizations here:
Check out these videos to learn more about AI research in Germany: