Research Funding

Who provides funding and how, where do applications have to be submitted - these are important questions regarding research funding. This page provides the answers.

Pipettierende Forscherin
© Projekttraeger DLR Gesundheitsforschung im Auftrag des BMBF

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports innovative projects and ideas in research through targeted funding programmes.

Why fund research?

Research and development together with the latest production processes are the basis for the new technological developments of tomorrow. Research funding has the goal of financing the development of new ideas and technologies. Funding is provided for projects in a wide spectrum of research areas. The range covers everything from basic research in natural sciences, environmentally friendly sustainable development, new technologies, information and communication technologies, the life sciences, work design, structural research funding at institutions of higher education to innovation support and technology transfer.

EU-wide standardized regulations play a decisive role in the basic conditions of research funding. These regulations apply to, for example, definitions for research institutions and businesses, the criteria for what can be considered small and medium enterprises, or what relation between funding and equity capital is permissible with funded businesses.

Decisions for or against funding are always based on the clarification of points such as:

  • Degree of innovation: how innovative is a project from a scientific or technical perspective?
  • Utilization: how can the prospects of success be assessed? With technological developments, is there a utilization strategy?
  • Avoidance of double funding: has funding already been provided for the project idea?

Research funding supports scientific institutions and enterprises. Individual funding is thereby expressly excluded. The BMBF funds individual researchers via special funding institutions.

Three steps can provide orientation in research funding:

  1. Overview of the thematic focuses
  2. Funded Projects
  3. Access to forms and addresses

The Federal “Research and Innovation” Funding Advisory Service offers information and advice on all current funding measures free of charge.

Project Lump Sum

The Federal Government intends to structurally and lastingly strengthen the performance and competitiveness of Germany’s institutions of higher education through the introduction of a project lump sum for these institutions as part of the direct project funding from section 30.

As of the 2011 budgetary year, the BMBF grants a project lump sum in the amount of 10 per cent of the contributions from its specialized programmes as part of the direct project funding for institutions of higher education. As of 2012, this lump sum increased from 10 per cent to 20 per cent for new allocations. The project lump sums support the financing of project expenditures arising indirectly from the individual research projects.

General or thematically specific funding information

Research funding is generally based on research fields. The goals of funding are stipulated by research programmes. There is however a series of crosscutting, interdisciplinary measures. Thematic orientation is provided by the funding priorities of the BMBF and the funding regulations of the individual areas.