Federal Government

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Who funds what and how does it work, where should applications be submitted - these are important questions with regard to research funding. Research funding aims to maintain and expand scientific competences, strategic technology developments and processes with special leverage for growth and jobs.

What can be funded?

Government financial support for research essentially consists of institutional funding, goal-oriented project funding and the funding of departmental research. Direct project funding is allocated to concrete areas of research and is implemented within the framework of specific programmes which have been concentrated within the federal new High-Tech Strategy.

Within its programmes, the Federal Government promotes basic technologies which push forward developments in key fields of application and thus serve as a force for growth in many industrial sectors. Moreover, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are supported by means of specific funding programmes that are not bound to a certain sector or research direction.

Who can receive funding?

German industrial companies as well as universities, institutions of higher education and other R&D institutions can participate in these programmes. Research collaborations between scientific institutions and companies are given priority in terms of funding. Individual researchers are supported via special funding institutions.

How does the funding process work?

The Federal Government's research funding is realised by means of direct project funding within the framework of technology-based funding programmes and in the form of non-repayable grants. Current calls for proposals concerning specific research priorities are published in the Federal Gazette and are circulated via different channels (website, newsletter) of the funding institutions.

Project management organisations are in charge of the technical and administrative coordination of R&D funding projects. They advise applicants and accompany the implementation of the projects until they are completed.

After submission of a project outline to the project management organisation responsible for the respective subject area and comprehensive advice about the scientific and technical contents of the specialised programme concerned, the application will be formulated, evaluated based on the general funding conditions and submitted for decision.

After the completion of the project, a final report is to be submitted which must contain information on how the research results will be exploited. The German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) in Hanover provides reference copies of recorded research reports.

Are there any grants for international cooperation?

The Federal Government's research funding programmes are generally open for international cooperation - in some cases, international cooperation is explicitly expressed as an element in the programme. As a rule, the German partner has two possibilities of using international cooperation for the project:

  • Funding of an international cooperation project through partial funding of an R&D contract for the foreign cooperation partner. The allocation of the R&D contract is to be used to obtain a service from a foreign contractor which is not available in Germany in this form,
  • Participation in the planned project by a competent foreign cooperation partner in order to enhance the chances for the application and exploit synergy effects from work with foreign cooperation partners.

As a rule, cooperation agreements are to be concluded between the partners in accordance with the funding guidelines. Details are determined specifically for each programme.

Bi- and Multilateral Scientific and Technological Cooperation
The International Bureau (IB) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) awards grants for initial suitability tests and for project preparation, including feasibility studies and pilot investigations in selected partner countries, to German universities and non-university institutions, as well as to small and medium-sized companies with a particular emphasis on science and research.