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Education & Knowledge

Non-university research

Large organisations with international reputations help shape the face of German research. Their global connections are outstanding.
Außeruniversitäre Forschung
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There are around 1,000 publicly funded research institutes in Germany. Along with Germany’s higher education institutions, the four major non-university research institutes form the backbone of Germany’s research system. The Max Planck Society Max Planck Society The Max Planck Society was founded on 26 February 1948 – as the successor to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften, established in 1911. The 85 Max Planck institutes conduct basic research in the natural, biological and social sciences and in the humanities. The Max… Read more › (MPG), founded in 1948, is the leading non-university centre for fundamental research into the natural, biological and social sciences and humanities. Around 7,000 scientists and researchers, 3,400 PhD students and 2,200 visiting researchers work at the Max Planck Society’s 86 institutes and research institutes, some of which are located outside Germany. Over half (54.6%) of the academics and researchers are foreign citizens. Over 20 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers from the Max Planck Society since its foundation. 

The Helmholtz Association Helmholtz Association With 18 research centres, an annual budget of EUR 5.8 billion and more than 43,000 members of staff the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. It conducts research into energy, the earth and the environment, health, aerospace, transport, materials and key technologies. … Read more › conducts pioneering research in six main fields: energy, earth and envir­onment, health, information, materials, and aeronautics, space and transport. The Helmholtz Society is Germany’s largest research organisation, with over 43,000 people working at its 19 centres, including the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). The Society plans to set up a new centre for gerontology research.

The Fraunhofer Fraunhofer The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft conducts applied research. Clients include industrial companies and service providers as well as the public sector. More than 30,000 employees are involved in generating the annual research volume of 3 billion euros. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft operates 76 institutes and… Read more › -Gesellschaft has 76 institutes and research institutions across the whole country, and is considered the largest institution for application-oriented development in Europe. Its key research areas include health and the envir­onment, mobility and transport, and energy and fuels. With eight Fraunhofer affiliates in Europe, North America, South America and Asia, numerous Representative Offices and Senior Advisors, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has a presence in many countries around the world. 

The Leibniz Association Leibniz Association Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the last all-round scholars. The scientific range covered by the 97 research institutes is correspondingly broad, extending from the humanities and economics through to mathematics. The focus is on applied basic research. The Leibniz institutes… Read more › brings together 96 independent research institutes, with research interests ranging from the natural sciences, engineering and environmental sciences to aerospace engineering, economics, the social sciences, and the humanities. One overarching priority for the Association’s 11,700 or so researchers is knowledge transfer towards policymakers, businesses and the general public.

As Europe’s largest research funding association, the German Research Foundation German Research Foundation The German Research Foundation (DFG – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) is science’s central self- governing organization. It supports research projects, whereby funds are channeled primarily into institutes of higher education. It also promotes collaboration between researchers and advises… Read more › (DFG) is responsible for funding science, academia and research. The DFG’s headquarters are in Bonn, and it also maintains offices in India, Japan, Latin America and North America, as well as running the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion in Beijing (CDZ). The DFG promotes cooperation between researchers in Germany and their colleagues abroad, particularly (but by no means exclusively) within the European Research Area.