DFG Explores Research Landscape in Kazakhstan

(03.12.18) Kazakhstan is one of the most important and most rapidly developing countries in Central Asia, but what collaboration opportunities and future prospects does its research sector offer? In October, the DFG office in Moscow took a trip to Almaty and Astana in Kazakhstan to gather information with a view to systematically establishing institutional relations with the Kazakh research landscape and local German intermediary organisations.

DFG delegation in conversation with the Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana

© Ministry for Education and Science, Kazakhstan

Established as a regional office, the DFG office in Moscow aims to monitor developments and collaboration prospects of CIS countries in addition to Russia. This includes Kazakhstan, one of the Central Asian countries experiencing dynamic growth. During a trip to gather information, the DFG office in Moscow held a series of talks with local German organisations, Kazakh universities and research centres as well as research funding institutions.

A meeting between the DFG delegation led by Wilma Rethage and the Kazakh Minister for Education and Research, Yerlan Sagadiyev, provided a first insight into the principles of research funding and core research areas that currently prevail in the applied field. Representatives of the Ministry for Education and Science, the Science Fund and the Centre for International Programmes also attended this meeting. Talks were also held with the heads of the International Scientific Complex 'Astana', Eurasian National University and Nazarbayev University. The latter was founded as a research university in 2010 and is expected to act as a role model for the development of a modern higher education system in Kazakhstan. 4,200 students currently study and carry out research in line with international academic standards at the university.

In Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, a meeting was held with the President of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Murat Zhurinov, which, unlike the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively acts in an advisory capacity and does not maintain its own research institutes. Other talks with the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and the Rector of the German-Kazakh University in Almaty created a broad outline of university structures, the quality of existing collaborations and future prospects.

The German Consulate General in Almaty sent out an invitation to a meeting with representatives of German institutions based in Kazakhstan (GIZ, DAAD, Goethe Institute). The German Embassy in Astana provided a platform for discussion at an international agricultural conference for sustainable farming, which it organised with the Kazakh office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, with a number of researchers conducting projects in and with Kazakhstan in the field of agriculture.

The DFG currently has no bilateral agreements with Kazakhstan. However, funding opportunities are available via ‘Cooperation with Developing Countries’; the DFG enables research cooperation between researchers from Germany and developing countries through research grants for individual projects. The aim is to promote scientific cooperation between Germany and Kazakhstan through project funding. This will allow those in all disciplines eligible to submit a proposal to apply for funds for staff, scientific instrumentation, consumables, trips and publication costs for the German side and for the cooperation partner in the developing country.