Germany is known the world over as an attractive place to do research. Research and development play an important role not only in the most innovative German companies – university and non-university research institutes also enjoy an excellent reputation. This is why there are numerous good reasons for doing research in Germany.
Research and development (R&D) are very important for German companies, whether large groups or small and medium-sized businesses. Investment in R&D has been rising for years: at nearly 54 billion euros, the majority of the 79 billion euros invested in research and development in Germany in 2012 were invested by businesses.
Compared with other countries, expenditure on research and development by the German industry sector is growing at an extremely dynamic rate: at just 1.4% worldwide in 2014, for German companies it was more than 11.3%. The most prolific sector here is the automotive sector, but the chemicals and electronic engineering industries are also strongly committed to R&D.
German universities invested some 14 billion euros in research and development in 2012. Since 2005, the German government has been promoting outstanding university programmes through its “Excellence Initiative”. This financial aid is helping to create even better work conditions for young researchers from Germany and from abroad. More than 4 billion euros have been granted since 2005 under the Excellence Initiative; currently, 39 universities are receiving funding. You’ll find a list of them on the Web site of the German Research Foundation. Find out more on German universities.
Renowned non-university research institutes
Besides industry and universities, non-university research institutes in Germany also offer good work opportunities for top-level international researchers. These include institutes funded by the federal, state or local governments, as well as publicly funded private non-profit organisations. Examples of these are the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association. With more than 60 research units, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the largest applied research organisation in Europe.
These research bodies do top-level research in a multitude of different domains: the environmental and energy sector, biomedecine and the humanities, or as service providers for the public, political and industrial sectors.
Research in bodies funded by federal or state government
Besides these, other bodies do research funded by federal or state (Land) government. For example, the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin investigates issues of disease surveillance and prevention, while the Institute of Microelectronics in Stuttgart researches into new technologies.
There are a total of 38 research institutes working for different federal government ministries and doing research in the ministries' respective sectors. The German federal states fund more than 100 other institutes doing research in the life sciences, as well as the humanities and law.
You can get a good insight into non-university research bodies and those funded by the federal or state (Land) governments on the Research in Germany Web site.
Networking is crucial to science and research. This is why the German federal government has created a number of “cluster” projects. These projects specifically promote collaboration between researchers in the businesses and universities in one city or region.
This is beneficial for the development of new technologies on both sides: innovative ideas from academic research are combined with industry’s service-providing skills, both sides together enhancing Germany’s standing as a centre of innovation. You can find out more about cluster projects and networks here.
Research in Germany
Information on doctoral studies and research in Germany (i.a. German, English, Spanish, French)
Germany’s universities of Excellence
Information about the Excellence Initiative and top-level research (German, English)