Germany pays high attention to the support of innovative and interdisciplinary research projects as well as to the world-wide networking of scientists. The three big German research funding organizations – the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Foundation (AvH-Foundation) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – alone are able to dispose of a yearly budget of 2.5 billion Euros altogether for the support of innovative projects.
The DFG supports individual research projects as well as co-ordinated programs, i.a. research groups or graduate schools. Additionally the organization engages also in the promotion of young scientists by scholarships (i.a. Emmy-Noether-Program, Heisenberg-Program) and it awards prizes for excellent research performances (i.a. Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Program, Heinz-Maier Leibnitz-Prize, Communicator Award).
The AvH-Foundation is dedicated especially to the support and networking of top-level scientists. In order to achieve that the foundation awards yearly around 500 so-called “Humboldt Research Fellowships” as well as 100 “Humboldt Research Awards” to internationally re-known scientists from abroad and it also supports German scientists who would like to spend a stay abroad by 100 “Feodor-Lynen-Research Fellowships”. Thanks to the “Alexander-von-Humboldt-Professorship” it was possible to gain scientists recognized worldwide for scientific work in Germany. Finally the AvH-Foundation engages in the promotion of excellent young researchers, i.a. by the dedication of the “Sofja Kovalevskaja Award”.
One of the biggest and most prestigious intermediary organizations worldwide is the DAAD. By 250 programs this organization supports German as well as international young elite scientists, it supports the further internationalization and enhancement of global competitiveness of German universities as well as the development of the higher education system in developing countries and in the transforming Middle- and East-European countries.
In addition to these big organizations there is also a great variety of other research funding institutions, like foundations which pursue often a special funding purpose. A list of foundations in Germany is available here.
Due to the diversity of funding possibilities described above it is not easy to get an overview over the whole landscape of research funding and to find the appropriate program for the individual purpose. Databases provided e.g. by the DAAD (for foreigners coming to Germany as well as for Germans going abroad) or EURAXESS may serve as a helpful tool because they allow searching for offers following certain criteria (country of origin, qualifications, subject etc.). The results are mostly hyperlinked so that the interested party can click directly to the description of each program which contains the most important indications concerning application (target group, contents, requirements, necessary documents, deadlines, contact persons etc.).