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R&D Landscape

Germany’s Research and Development Landscape

Business and science work hand-in-hand to create innovative products and technologies - underpinning the success that will support your project in Germany.

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 almost a decade.

In 2021, public and private spending on research projects in Germany amounted to approximately EUR 113 billion – representing 3.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This share places Germany in the EU's fourth position only behind Belgium, Sweden and Austria but significantly ahead of France and the EU average.

This means that Germany has already achieved the three percent goal specified by the European Union for the fifth time in a row. More than two thirds of R&D spending originates from the business enterprise sector.

R&D personnel

Germany is home of the biggest R&D community in Europe – 24 percent of the scientists and engineers in the EU live and work here. Moreover, researchers located in Germany are engaged in projects all over the world. For example, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft currently cooperates with international partners in more than 120 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 R&D facilities. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft currently holds R&D funds of EUR 3.0 billion which are disbursed in more than 76 institutes with over 38,000 employees. A considerable part of the Fraunhofer budget is raised through contract research in collaboration with the private sector. The network of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft comprises 97 institutes and around 20,500 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 technologies.

The interaction between universities, non-university research institutes and indsutrial R&D departments constitutes a division of labor in the creation of new knowledge which is unique in the world. The entire range of R&D - from pre-competitive basic research supported by the public sector up to application-oriented research financed by the private sector - can be found in Germany.

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 Climate Action. This initiative includes almost 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.

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