Research Organisations

Research Organisations

Research organisations

Science and research in Germany are characterised by a distinguished infrastructure, a wide variety of disciplines, well-equipped research facilities and competent staff. Germany offers various forms of research locations: universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university institutes, companies and Federal as well as Länder Institutions. All in all, there are approximately 750 public-funded research institutions in Germany, plus research and development centres run by industrial corporations. In selected fields or regions, these industrial and academic institutions pool their research and development activities in networks and clusters. 

Germany is home to several research infrastructures with global significance in physics, earth science, climate research or the humanities. Examples of research infrastructures such as DESY - Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron and the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ)

Over the last few years, the Federal Government has initiated a series of projects aiming at the creation of networks and clusters that promote new technologies. They pool both industry and academic institutions in their research and development activities. One key aim of these aggregations is to accelerate the process of making new technology products marketable.

The “German Federation of Industrial Research Associations” (AiF) was founded in 1954. As a registered non-profit association, the AiF promotes research and development (R&D) in all industry sectors in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises. The association acts at Federal as well as European level.

German companies are among the most innovative in Europe. Industry based and financed investments account for almost two thirds of all R&D funding in Germany. Companies co-operate especially closely in the field of applied research, working together with globally operating Fraunhofer Institutes and the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations "Otto von Guericke" (AiF).

The Federal States of Germany (“Länder”) act as research funding bodies, but they also run several research institutions which contribute to supporting the research activities of the Länder. There are more than 100 institutes covering a broad range of research areas.

The Federal Government funds 38 research institutes that the Federal Ministries are in charge of. This departmental research is always directly related to the activity fields of a ministry. Its main task is to support the respective Federal Ministry’s activities and to provide the necessary scientific basis for the execution of sovereign tasks.

The key mission of the German academies of science is the coordination and support of long-term basic research projects and the development and cultivation of interdisciplinary dialogues. In addition, the academies give advice to society related to general and specific issues of science, including emerging issues.

The Max Planck Society (MPG) is an independent, non-profit research organisation named after the world-famous physicist Max Planck (1858 - 1947). Primarily, the MPG performs basic research in natural science as well as in humanities, thus complementing research projects at universities.

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community (WGL), known as the Leibniz Association, is the umbrella organisation for 86 research institutions which address scientific isues of importance to society as a whole. It stands out for its enormous diversity of themes addressed by the institutes. The Leibniz research institutes provide infrastructure for science and research and perform research-based services – liaison, consultation, transfer – for the public, policy-makers, academia and business.

The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres provides top scientific achievements to society, science and industry to tackle major challenges they are confronted with. The Helmholtz Association integrates 18 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres and is the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG) conducts applied research for private as well as public enterprises and for the general benefit of the public. It has more than 80 research units and is the largest organisation for applied research in Europe. The Fraunhofer institutes conduct research under contract for industry, the service sector and public administration and also offer information and service features.

Germany is home to almost 390 universities providing a variety of disciplines. Academic formation is characterised by a close link between education and research. The Federal Government and the Länder have set up the Initiative for Excellence that is intended to support research activities in various disciplines at German universities. More information about universities and their research activities can be found here:

Read more about the unique network of university and non-university research organisations which Germany has to offer. This booklet gives you an excellent overview of the german research landscape.