The cooperation between Germany and Israel  includes the EU's research framework programmes in which Israel has been participating since 1996.

Scientific cooperation plays a special role in German-Israeli relations - it helped pave the way toward diplomatic relations between the two countries and, with its diversity and vitality, it has become an important pillar of the political cooperation between the two states. Extensive networking takes place at the bilateral level. The cooperation also includes the EU's research framework programmes in which Israel has been participating since 1996.

Political framework for cooperation

The interministerial research cooperation plays an essential role in the cooperation between the two countries. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is engaged in close collaboration with the Israeli Ministry for Science, Technology and Space (MOST) and the Ministry of Economy (MoE).

The priorities of the interministerial partnership are natural sciences, marine sciences, geosciences, biotechnology, environmental research, materials research, nano research, information and communication technologies, cancer research and water technologies. Civil security research was added to the areas of cooperation in 2009. In February 2016, Germany and Israel signed a Joint Declaration of Intent aiming at strengthening the bilateral cooperation in the field of applied nanotechnology. Based on this declaration, both countries published a call for proposals in November 2016 and decided on 12 projects for mutual funding and implementation with an estimated funding sum of around EUR 8 Million on each side. The projects started at the beginning of 2018. A mid-term meeting took place in Bonn in February 2019.

An agreement with the Israeli Ministry of Economy signed in 1973 established the basis for interministerial cooperation, which has since been focussing on application-oriented research. A declaration of intent on collaboration in battery research and electrochemistry was signed by the BMBF and the MoE during the intergovernmental consultations held in 2012.

Cooperation is also based on the intergovernmental agreement of 2011 on cooperation in industry-led research and development and initial and continuing vocational education and training; projects based on this agreement are funded by the BMBF and Israel's MoE.

The work by the foundations and bilateral programmes funded by the BMBF are equally as important as the political cooperation between the countries' respective governments. The pillars of scientific cooperation are the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), the German-Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP), the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and the Minerva Foundation play a particularly important role.

The German-Israeli Foundation

The German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) provides funding to about 60 German-Israeli civil research projects each year in all fields of science and academia, e.g. natural sciences, life sciences, medicine as well as humanities and social sciences.

Since its establishment in 1986 the Foundation has granted project funding to over 1,400 bilateral projects across all disciplines. Funding is provided for periods of three years. Under the "Young Scientists" Programme, the Foundation also supports young German and Israeli scientists and scholars aged up to 40 and within seven years of obtaining their doctorates who want to present their research activities in Israel or in Germany. Up to now, under this programme almost 500 Young Scientists have been funded. The endowment capital provided for the GIF by the German BMBF and the Israeli MoE currently amounts to 211 million euros.

German-Israeli project funding

The BMBF supports German-Israeli multidisciplinary projects as part of German-Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP). More than 70 cutting-edge projects from all disciplines have received BMBF funding since 1996.

The DIP is mainly aimed at teams of researchers who cooperate in developing innovations. The priority areas are physics, life sciences and chemistry. Application consists of a two-step procedure which is administered by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Association). Only the six Israeli universities and the Weizmann Institute are eligible for funding. Cooperation partners on the German side may be researchers who work in the German science system. Three or four projects are selected for funding each year. In 2019, 12 projects are funded.

The Martin Buber Society of Fellows

The Foundation Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Martin Buber Society of Fellows for short) was founded in 2009. The BMBF has endowed this civil law foundation with a capital stock of 20 million euros. The purpose of the Foundation is to foster the interdisciplinary and intercultural academic dialogue between outstanding young scholars in the humanities from Germany and Israel.

The research grants and doctoral scholarships are aimed at graduates from all fields of the humanities and social sciences (with the exception of law and economics). Up to ten young researchers are selected to receive funding each year, five of whom come from Germany and five from Israel.

The first German and Israeli fellows started their research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 2010/11 academic year. In 2019, 31 fellows are working on research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Programme in vocational education and training

Technological, economic and societal developments pose similar challenges for the vocational education and training (VET) systems in Israel and Germany. Skills shortage, ease of transfer between higher education and VET, inclusion and increasing the attractiveness of VET: Despite their different backgrounds, Germany and Israel can inspire and learn from each other. That is why Germany and Israel cooperate in the German-Israeli Programme on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training.

The Israel Programme is expected to encourage further development of VET at different levels in both countries. Particularly in regard of the past, another objective of the programme is to help develop and flesh out contemporary German-Israeli relations.

The programme provides vocational training staff and experts as well as apprentices with opportunities to exchange technical knowledge and experience, devise innovative approaches to VET, to experience the other's reality of everyday life and to deepen mutual understanding.

Different cooperation models are available to realize this, e.g. apprentice exchanges, "project team collaborations", study tours and seminars/conferences.

Max Planck Society as forerunner

The Minerva Foundation is a subsidiary of the Max Planck Society and promotes German-Israeli cooperation in science and research. First contacts between researchers at the Max Planck Institute and the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) led to the establishment of the Minerva Foundation in 1959, which marked the beginning of scientific and scholarly cooperation with Israel.

German and Israeli researchers from all disciplines collaborate at the WIS and at the Minerva Centres at Israeli universities. There are now 23 such centres.

The Minerva Foundation also funds scientific symposiums and projects at the Weizmann Institute and awards fellowships to scientists and scholars from both countries. Moreover, the Minerva Foundation administers the ARCHES award ("Award for Research Cooperation and Highest Excellence"), which has been presented by the BMBF every year since 2008.

Background of the cooperation

Up-to-date information on bilateral education and research projects can be found here. In an effort to advance the peace process in the Middle East, the BMBF is also involved in multilateral collaborative projects with Israel and its Arab neighbours, mainly in the fields of marine research, environmental technologies and water technologies.