Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 25 | 11. Mai 2020

Funding Opportunities for Indo-German Fundamental Research Projects in the Life Sciences

DBT and DFG resume their open synchronised funding programme for fundamental research projects in all fields of the life sciences

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) wish to inform the Indian and German scientific communities that, effective immediately, it is possible for teams of Indian and German researchers to seek synchronised funding for integrated Indo-German cutting-edge fundamental research projects proposing innovative approaches in the academic disciplines covered by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, with a duration of up to three years.

Since this programme addresses all fields of the life sciences, interested applicants may note that it is also suitable for Indo-German projects about epidemics or pandemics such as the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Please note that in line with the general orientation of this programme, only proposals describing fundamental research projects will be considered. This excludes, for example, clinical trials or applied diagnostics. If you are unsure about whether a given project would count as fundamental research, please contact DBT and/or DFG before you write and submit a proposal.

DBT and DFG expect that proposals submitted under this funding initiative describe ambitious projects of curiosity-driven research, which do not just benefit from, but essentially require international collaboration to achieve the defined objectives. The basis for this funding initiative is the Programme of Cooperation signed by the two agencies on 25 October 2012.

On the German side, the regulations governing the funding opportunity, including the eligibility criteria, proposal and submission procedures, follow the funding line “Sachbeihilfe/Research Grants” (see the DFG guidelines 50.01). This also includes the duty to cooperate (“Kooperationspflicht”) within Germany for members of publicly funded non-university research institutions with permanent positions. On the Indian side, the eligibility requirements follow normal DBT regulations (see the links given below).

Proposals must be written in English and clearly marked as DBT-DFG proposals (as part of the project title). They can be submitted at any time of the year but have to be submitted to both DFG and to DBT in parallel in accordance with the proposal preparation requirements of each side, respectively. While conforming to the different respective regulations, forms and submission procedures of the two agencies, the project descriptions must be identical in their substance. As the projects must be fully integrated Indo-German research projects, it is expected that the proposals contain detailed information about the mode and essentiality of collaboration between the Indian and the German side.

German researchers can only apply for funds for the German side of a joint project; Indian researchers can only apply for funds for the Indian side of a joint project. For visits and meetings between both sides, the rule is that the sending side must cover the travel costs while the receiving side covers the complete local hospitality costs. Joint workshops must be financed from the side where they take place. German applicants will detail their budgets both in the proposal file and in the online form on the elan portal. Indian applicants will detail their budgets in the DBT application form.

German researchers have to submit the proposals electronically via the elan portal; Indian researchers have to submit the proposals as a single consolidated PDF file by e-mail to in stipulated proforma (see links given below).

It is important for applicants to note that DBT and DFG have not earmarked a special budget for the joint projects to be funded within this funding opportunity. The proposals will be evaluated separately by DBT and DFG within the respective national competitions on the basis of the projects’ scientific merit/quality, the justification for scientific collaboration and the qualifications as well as the compatibility of the participating team members.

The results of the review process will be shared between the agencies. Funding will be granted for only those proposals where both DBT and DFG recommend funding. Unilateral funding of only one part of a joint initiative will not be possible. DBT and DFG aim to review each proposal within nine months from submission.

Submission of proposals under this open funding opportunity will be possible between 11 May 2020 and 28 February 2021. Please note that this is not a deadline – project proposals will be reviewed as soon as they are submitted, and early submissions are encouraged. DFG and DBT may extend the programme beyond the provisional end date given.

Further Information about Proposal Data Handling (for German applicants):

Personal data contained in an applicant’s proposal or a proposal submitted by an applicant’s institution/organisation will be transferred to the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. Note that its place of data processing is not located in a member state of the European Union or in another state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. This information will be transferred as part of the decision-making process on the proposal.

This transfer is permissible as an exception under GDPR because it is necessary

  • for the performance of the funding contract between the applicant and the DFG and for the implementation of pre-contractual measures relating to the proposal (Art. 49 (1) (b) GDPR),
  • for the performance of the (employment) contract between an applicant and an applicant’s employer or the applicant institution/organisation (Art. 49 (1) (b), (c) GDPR) or
  • for the conclusion and/or performance of the funding contract concluded in the interest of the applicant between a third party and/or the applicant’s institution/organisation and the DFG (Art. 49 (1) (c) GDPR).

Further Information about Proposals and their Submissions

Prior to proposal submission to DFG (for German applicants):

Please ensure that the applicants on the German side have a valid account with up-to-date contact information on the proposal submission portal elan. If not, please request/update your account as early as possible. Please note that the processing of your registration/update can take up to five working days.

To submit a proposal to DFG (for German applicants):

Please follow the “Guidelines for the Research Grants Programme” (DFG form 50.01) and the “Proposal Preparation Instructions – Project Proposals” (DFG form 54.01):

DFG’s Electronic Proposal Processing System for Applicants – elan:

Please note that the corresponding applicants in India need to be entered as “cooperation partners” in the elan web form.

Further information on elan and FAQ about using elan:

To submit a proposal to DBT (for Indian applicants):

Please follow the “Modalities of Participation and Funding for Indian Investigator(s)”:

DBT’s Proposal Submission Proforma:

Contact persons

At the DFG India Office in New Delhi:

At DBT, New Delhi:


The Information for Researchers text no. 25 from 11 May 2020 was updated to correct the e-mail address of the DBT. The correct e-mail address for the submission of DBT proposals (Indian side only) is .

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