Business and science work hand-in-hand to create German innovation. These impressive numbers underpin the success that will support your project.
Rising R&D spending
In Germany, enormous sums are invested in the development of new technologies and innovations. No other country in Europe invests a greater amount of money in research and development (R&D). Germany’s R&D expenditures have been rising constantly for more than a decade.
In 2019, public and private spending on research projects in Germany amounted to approximately EUR 110 billion – representing 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This share places Germany in third spot in Europe behind Sweden and Austria but significantly ahead of France, the United Kingdom and the EU average.
This means that Germany has already achieved the three percent goal specified by the European Union for the third time in a row. More than two thirds of R&D spending comes from funds provided by research-intensive private enterprises.
Germany is home of the biggest research community in Europe – 24 percent of the scientists in the EU live and work here. Moreover, German researchers cooperate in projects all over the world. For example, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft currently cooperates with scientists in more than 110 countries.
Renowned research institutes
In global comparison, Germany holds a unique position thanks to its publicly subsidized research communities outside the universities.
The application-oriented research communities, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, provide mainly small and medium-sized companies with access to top research. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft invests EUR 2.7 billion of R&D funds in its more than 72 facilities and over 19,200 employees. A major part of this funding is generated through contract research in collaboration with industry.
Leibniz-Gemeinschaft's network comprises 95 institutes and almost 13,000 employees. Renowned institutes for fundamental research are located in Germany as well. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft enable companies to outsource costly fundamental research, thus reducing the risk associated with the development of new products and thereby decreasing R&D spending levels.
The interaction between universities, research organizations, industrial research and other entities constitutes a division of labor in the creation of value-added new knowledge which is unique in the world. This differentiated performance of tasks by the institutes involved covers the entire range from pre-competitive fundamental research mostly supported by the public sector up to tradeable application research financed by the industry.
Effective networks of competency
Germany is characterized by an advanced structure of highly innovative regional networks and clusters providing companies with excellent access to knowledge, technologies and value chains. Interactive research and learning processes ensure a faster diffusion of technology, including a subsequent introduction in the market.
A special quality seal is the membership in the “go-cluster“ initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. This initiative includes more than 100 clusters that meet strong criteria for membership. Admission depends on the level of cooperation between industry and science. This includes the extent to which a potential member is actively dedicated to innovation. Additionally,“go-cluster” membership facilitates access to funds for the development of special cluster services.
Leading reform initiatives
In shaping the knowledge-based society, Germany's federal government and the federal states have set the course to master the challenges that arise from intense global competition for innovation.
Among the various funding programs initiated, the Excellence Strategy aimed at strengthening cutting-edge research at universities is of special importance. Two funding lines must be differentiated: Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence.
The Clusters of Excellence funding line provides project-based funding in internationally competitive fields of research at individual universities or university alliances. The Clusters of Excellence involve researchers from various disciplines and institutions working in a collaborative project. The funding provides them with the opportunity of focusing intensively on their research objective, training young scientists and recruiting highly qualified international researchers.
The Universities of Excellence funding line sets out to strengthen universities or university alliances as institutions and to expand their leading international position in research on the basis of successful Clusters of Excellence. Universities must therefore already have at least two Clusters of Excellence – and in the case of university alliances at least three Clusters of Excellence – in order to be eligible to apply for University of Excellence status.