Research Funding in Germany
Doing the dishes at the Lab
(© picture-alliance / Frank May)
Research and development together with the latest production methods are the basis for the innovations of tomorrow. German research funding aims to foster the development of new ideas and technologies. Funding is available in Germany for projects in a wide range of disciplines as well as for individual researchers. It spans the support of cutting-edge research at the various institutions to structural research funding at universities to promote innovation and technology transfer.
Who provides funding and how, where must applications be submitted - these are the important questions on research funding. Some answers and further information may be found below, where we have compiled a list of the biggest funding organisations.
German Research Foundation (DFG)
As the largest research funding organisation in Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG) brings together institutions of higher education and research. The DFG provides financial support for research in higher education and public research institutions, without running its own research establishments.
Research in all disciplines without any subject restrictions can be funded by DFG-programmes with the possibility of international collaborations.
More information on DFG-funding programmes
With 67 institutes spread throughout Germany, each focusing on different fields of applied science, the Fraunhofer Society is largest organization for applied research and development services in Europe, and represents an important part of the German research landscape.
The ‘Fraunhofer Attract’ grant is the excellence stipend programme of Fraunhofer. It offers outstanding external scientists the opportunity to develop their ideas towards an actual application within an optimally equipped Fraunhofer institute operating close to the market.
More information on Fraunhofer Attract
Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres
The Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization with the mission of “solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry”. It boasts state-of-the-art large-scale research infrastructure. 18 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres focus on finding globally relevant scientific solutions for major questions in six research areas. Within its framework, Helmholtz offers a variety of interesting opportunities for international researchers – notably PhD and Postdoc programmes.
More information on funding programmes with in the Helmholtz Association
The Leibniz Association is a union of German non-university research institutes from various fields of study, bringing together 89 institutions from a variety of different disciplines.
Since fostering young talent is an important work area for the Leibniz Association, many research funding programmes are offered to PhDs, Postdocs and young researchers as well as senior researchers.
Leibniz Graduate Schools offer doctoral students the opportunity to complete a structured PhD programme in an excellent research environment in cooperation with a higher education institution.
The international Leibniz-DAAD Research Fellowship is open to excellent postdoctoral researchers from all over the world who completed their doctorates within the last two years.
A programme for senior researchers allows senior scientists to pursue or complete research in the scientific context of a Leibniz Institute. The programme promotes networking and strengthens cooperation between Leibniz Institutes and their international partners.
More information on funding programmes with in the Leibniz Association
Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society (MPG) is one of the leading non-university research organizations in Germany, carrying out fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences as well as the arts and humanities. Graduates, PhD Students as well as Postdocs and young researchers can apply for funding within the Max Planck Society.
International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRSs) offer doctoral students a high-quality research environment while also providing intensive support and a strong research network.
Postdoctoral researchers are given the opportunity with the Max Planck Grants for Advanced Postdoctoral Training to gain additional knowledge and skills at a Max Planck Institute within the scope of their prior professional qualification.
More information on MPG funding programmes
As the largest private research funder and one of the major foundations in Germany, the Volkswagen Foundation (VS) is dedicated to the support of the humanities and social sciences as well as science and technology in higher education and research.
It financially supports research projects in path-breaking areas and provides assistance to academic institutions for the improvement of their structural conditions. In particular, the VS perceives its mission in supporting aspiring young researchers and in promoting interdisciplinary and international collaboration.
More information on VS research funding possibilities