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Information for Researchers No. 1 | 2. Januar 2017
Joint Sino-German Research Projects

The present initiative is a bilateral funding measure by two funding bodies: the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). The programme succeeds the former Joint Research Projects funded by the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion.

This initiative aims to bring together relevant and competitive researchers from Germany and China to design and carry out jointly organised research projects. Funding within this initiative will be available for collaborative research projects consisting of researchers from both partner countries. Within these research teams, each national funding organisation will fund as a rule only those project components that are carried out within its own country. The collaborative research projects must involve active communication and cooperation between the participating researchers.

The collaborative projects selected to take part in the initiative will receive research funding for a period of up to three years.

The objectives of the initiative are:

  • to promote high-quality research projects in the participating countries
  • to stimulate mobility of researchers between the participating countries
  • to promote training of researchers
  • to accelerate the exchange of new scientific knowledge among researchers and between researchers and other interested groups

The present initiative is open to joint research projects in all fields of the natural, life, management and engineering sciences.

This call for proposals is open to researchers based at universities, academic institutions and research centres in Germany and China. Funding is available for bilateral collaborative research projects comprising researchers from the two participating countries. Within a research project, contributions from Germany and China should be roughly balanced. Applicants are required to fulfil any national requirements for funding and follow the general regulations of their respective funding organisation (see below). Applications that do not meet these requirements will not be considered.

The assessment of all proposals will be based on a peer review process. Collaborative projects suitable for joint funding will be selected based on this assessment.

The most important criteria applied in this selection process are the following:

  • scientific quality and innovativeness of the research project
  • feasibility of the research plan
  • cost-effectiveness of the budgetary plan
  • competence and expertise of the researchers or research teams
  • effective communication and cooperation between the researchers in each country and added value of the collaboration
  • mobility of researchers between the participating countries

For funding programmes that support the initiation phase of a collaboration between Germany and China, please refer to the funding programmes of the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion (contacts below). Funding within one of these programmes is certainly of advantage for the preparation of a joint proposal, but not a compulsory prerequisite for the application for a joint research project.

All requested cost items must be in accordance with the national administrative regulations, respectively. At DFG, only costs for the German share of projects are eligible. At NSFC, only costs of the Chinese share of the projects are eligible according to the regulations of NSFC.

Within a collaborative project, researcher mobility between Germany and China is strongly encouraged (e.g. research visits for 3–6 months) and can be supported by funding travel expenses and housing costs. In the case of mutual visits of scientists between Germany and China the visiting scientist will cover international flights and the host will provide the local accommodation together with a daily maintenance allowance and domestic travel costs.

Applicants of a bilateral collaborative project within this call must submit their joint application to their respective national funding organisation. Chinese PI submit their documents to NSFC, German PI to DFG, following the formal requirements of their respective funding organisation. All documents must be written in English. Please note that the scientific content of the documents submitted to DFG and NSFC must be identical.

Additional specific requirements for German and Chinese applicants are outlined below. Applications arriving late and applications not fulfilling the national requirements will not be considered. No legal entitlement can be derived from the submission of a project description.

Proposals must include a joint research plan with a general description of the project including scope, topic, relevance, a list of up to ten project-related publications of the PI, overall approach, a clear description of the planned research collaboration with responsibilities of the partners, basis of the Sino-German collaboration and added value to be expected, significance to researcher training and to the development of the research environment, a justification for requested cost items for each collaboration partner, and a short CV for each principle investigator.

All proposals must be submitted by 6 April 2017, 12:00 noon (CEST).

Specific instructions for German PI

Applicants to be funded by the DFG are requested to fulfil the eligibility requirements of DFG Research Grants, see the corresponding guidelines of the Research Grants Programme (DFG form 50.01). Note, however, that the duty to cooperate for scientists working at non-university research institutes in Germany is ineffective for this call; scientists working at non-university research institutes in Germany are eligible to apply. As part of the proposal, applicants from Germany may submit one or more of the modules outlined in the DFG guidelines for the Research Grants Programme.

Proposals within this call have to be prepared according to the Proposal Preparation Instructions (DFG form 54.01) and have to be submitted to the electronic proposal processing system (elan). After the log-in, please use the respective link “Proposal for a Research Grant” in the Proposal Forms column (Proposal Submission > New Project > Individual Grants Programme > Proposal for a Research Grant). Please select “DFG-NSFC 2017“ to tag your proposal for this specific call.

If you are using the elan system for the first time, please note that you need to register yourself and your institutional addresses before being able to submit a proposal. Also, if you are planning to move to a different institution you need to register the new institutional address beforehand. Please make sure that all applicants of your project (in case there is more than one) start their registration at latest by 27 March 2017. The registration requests are handled manually by DFG staff.

Please note additionally:

While the electronic budget figures via elan only have to be provided for the German applicant(s), the proposal itself should contain not only the German budget part but a budget overview for the Chinese part, too, to provide appropriate information to the reviewers.

In the proposal submitted by the German applicant(s) to DFG, an academic curriculum vitae including a list of his/her ten most important publications for all Chinese PI should be submitted to complete the reviewers’ information. In the DFG proposal and the electronic submission procedure in elan, all Chinese partners who apply for funding at NSFC need to be recorded under the category “Other Participating Individuals” > “Cooperation Partners”. Employees whose positions are requested for funding do not belong into this category.

Specific instructions for Chinese PI

Chinese applicants are kindly requested to conform to all the requirements listed in the Chinese call for proposals that is published on the NSFC website.

Notification of results

Applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the review and, where applicable, of the following administrative steps according to the national regulations, respectively. The selection of the projects will be completed by the end of 2017.

Further Information

For researchers in Germany:

To submit a proposal to the DFG, please follow the “Guidelines for the Research Grants Programme“ (form 50.01) and the ”Proposal Preparation Instructions – Project Proposals” (form 54.01) at:

General information for German PI on Research Grants:

The DFG’s electronical portal “elan” can be found at:

Further information on elan:

Contact information for Germany:

Questions concerning joint Sino-German research projects may be addressed to:

Questions concerning general issues of international cooperation and strategic issues of Sino-German cooperation may be addressed to:

Further information for researchers in China:

Contact information for China:

For the initiation of collaborations between Germany and China through joint symposia, joint workshops, cooperation groups, research visits and further funding programmes, please refer to the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion:

Contact information for researchers in Germany:

Contact information for researchers in China:

Additional Information

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