National research project funding

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports innovative projects and ideas in research through targeted funding programs. The aim of research funding is to finance the development of new ideas and technologies. Project funding covers a broad research spectrum, from basic research in the natural sciences, environmentally sustainable development, new technologies, information and communication technologies, life sciences, work design, structural research funding at universities to innovation funding and technology transfer.

Research funding supports both academic/research institutions as well as companies. Funding for individuals is explicitly excluded. The BMBF funds individual researchers through special funding institutions.

  • Click here to see current funding program announcements and funding guidelines.
  • The Federal Funding and Advisory Service on Research and Innovation is researchers’ first point of contact for questions about research and innovation funding. Its basic mission is to inform potential applicants about the research structure and funding programs offered by the German federal government, list the contact persons for each program, and summarize current funding priorities and initiatives.

German Research Foundation (DFG)

The German Research Foundation serves science and research in all sectors and fields by financing research and promoting cooperation among researchers. It is the self-governing organization of science and research in Germany.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

The DAAD is the world's largest funding organization for the international exchange of students and academics. An association of German universities and their student bodies ,the organization does far more than just award scholarships; it also promotes the internationalization of German universities, strengthens German studies and the German language abroad, helps developing countries establish efficient universities, and advises decision-makers in the areas of education, foreign science, and development policy.

DAAD is largely financed through federal funding provided by various German ministries (especially the German Foreign Office), as well as funding from the European Union, and various companies, organizations, and foreign governments.

  • The DAAD-Homepage gives news and information about the DAAD, as well as a comprehensive overview of funding programs and initiatives—for Germans, foreigners, and universities, cooperative development initiatives and German studies research.
  • A searchable list of all current project-based funding calls for German higher education institutions (exchange and cooperation) can be found here.


Research foundations can be classified in different ways: type of funding (project funding, scholarships, research awards, etc.), thematic focus, and so on. This list presents only a few of the many major existing foundations, and it focuses only on those institutions that support all subject areas. Each of the foundations has its own specific guidelines, giving a good sense of the large volume and diversity of funding programs and initiatives sponsored by foundations in Germany.

  • Volkswagen Foundation
    The Volkswagen Foundation promotes science and technology in research and teaching. It enables new research in promising areas and helps scientific and academic institutions improve the structural conditions of their work. Promoting early-stage researchers and fostering interdisciplinary, trans-national collaboration between researchers is a special focus of the foundation’s work.
  • Fritz Thyssen Foundation
    The Fritz Thyssen Foundation primarily supports three funding areas: (1) history, language and culture (2) state, economy and society, and (3) medicine and the natural sciences. It also represents interdisciplinary thematic areas: "Image and Imagery" and "International Relations."
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
    The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation promotes scientific cooperation between outstanding researchers from Germany and elsewhere, especially through research fellowships and research awards.

The following links give further information that can provide a broader overview of research funding foundations in Germany:

  • Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft [Benefactors’ Association for Promoting the Sciences and Humanities in Germany]
    The Stifterverband does not fund individual research projects; instead, its action programs work to improve the general conditions for science and humanities as a whole.
  • The Stifterverband is launching a multi-year education initiative to give more direction and substance to the debate on how to improve education in Germany. For the first time, it has identified key fields of action and formulated quantitative education targets for the higher education sector in 2020.
  • Association of German Foundations
    The Association’s free German foundation database encompasses roughly 10,000 foundations that are active in Germany and have their own websites. The only source with more information is the Verzeichnis Deutscher Stiftungen [Directory of German Foundations], which lists over 22,700 foundations in its expanded 8th edition.