DFG delegation visit to South Korea and Singapore

DFG delegation with President Katja Becker and Vice President Axel Brakhage visited South Korea and Singapore to discuss new partnerships

National Research Foundation of Korea, Daejeon: NRF President Prof. Kwang Bok Lee, the participating NRF representatives, the DFG delegation and two members from the German Embassy


(05.05.23) South Korea has been a strong partner of the DFG for many years and after President Katja Becker took office in 2020 it was soon decided to strengthen the partnership through a personal visit. At the same time, exchanges with Singapore increased and the DFG decided to explore ways to expand its ties to Southeast Asia. A combined visit to South Korea and to Singapore was then conceived.

The first destination was Seoul where the delegation met with representatives and scientists of Ewha Womans University, Seoul National University and the International Vaccine Institute. The meetings produced in-depth insights into the research landscape as well as the potential for cooperation between Germany and South Korea. Many shared topics of interest were discussed and the exchanges continued until well in the evening when German Ambassador invited the delegation as well as representatives of Korean research organizations to his residence.

From Seoul the delegation travelled to the head office of the National Research Foundation in Daejeon where it was welcomed by President Kwang Bok Lee. During the meeting at the NRF, President Katja Becker held a lecture on “Clustering Scientific Excellence: How the DFG Fosters Excellence in the German Research System” which fueled a multifaceted discussion on the roles of excellence and the many implications for research systems. The productive and open-minded meeting underlined once again the importance of the long-standing partnership between the DFG and the NRF.

Before returning to Seoul, the delegation visited the head office of the Institute for Basic Science to meet with President Do Young Noh. During the exchange with the IBS possible formats for future cooperation were addressed such as the International Research Training Groups. The delegation had been introduced to one of the IBS institutes the day before, the Center for Quantum Nanoscience, led by Director Andreas Heinrich. This as well as the visit in Daejeon left an excellent impression.

The next stop was Singapore and the program kicked off with a visit of Nanyang Technological University where Katja Becker, Axel Brakhage and the delegation met with Acting President Ling San and Vice President Tim White. The extensive talks shed light not only on the quality of research in Singapore but also on the vast possibilities for international exchange. This point was also in the center of the discussion with representatives of TUM Asia and TUMCREATE, who shared their experiences of conducting research in Singapore. Later on, the delegation met with Ambassador Riedel to talk about the big picture of how Germany and Singapore are interacting on different levels.

National Research Foundation of Korea, Daejeon: NRF President Prof. Kwang Bok Lee, the participating NRF representatives, the DFG delegation and two members from the German Embassy


On the following day the DFG representatives were invited to the National Research Foundation for a meeting with CEO Kian Teik Beh which was followed by a meeting at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research with CEO Frederick Chew. During the exchanges all sides expressed great interest in strengthening collaborations to benefit excellent researchers in both countries. Kian Teik Beh stressed the importance of long-term engagement as well as foresighted planning, which greatly resonated with the DFG delegation. Besides a search for research topics of mutual interest, increasing the mobility of early career researchers between Germany and Singapore will be one of the mechanisms that will be explored by the organizations.

When returning home, the delegation drew a positive conclusion of the visit. Not only were the links to the existing partners strengthened, but also new connections established, creating exciting opportunities for new cooperation.

Meanwhile, the talks between Katja Becker and President Kwang Bok Lee as well as CEO Kian Teik Beh will be continued in May this year during the annual meeting of the Global Research Council in Den Haag.