Federal research institutions

Germany’s federal ministries fund 44 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. 

We are looking through a porthole in a lab where two researchers are working.

Facts and figures

44 federal institutions with R&D responsibilities and ongoing cooperation with six additional R&D institutions

19,600 staff, including more than 9,800 R&D personnel; among them are 5,100 researchers

Total budget: 2.8 billion euros in total, including 1.4 billion euros for R&D (2020)

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


The total budget in 2020 was approx. 2.8 billion euros, with 1.4 billion euros allocated to R&D.

Piechart shows that departmental research institutes are primarily publicly funded (92%). Approx. 5% of these research institutions’ revenues come from their commercial activities and 4% from other sources. Deviation in the total amount is due to rounding.

Departmental research institutes were for the most part publicly funded, receiving a total of 2.6 billion euros in 2020. Approx. 4 per cent of the revenues of these research institutions come from their commercial activities.

Federal Government research institutions

Federal Government R&D institutions do research on a very wide range of topics – from materials research and various questions relating to health and nutrition, to issues that concern the younger generation, vocational education or the weather. An interactive map shows you which research is carried out at which institutions, and where they are located. 

Federal Report on Research & Innovation > Research Institutions