Information for Researchers, No. 97 | November 4, 2021

DFG and JSPS Renew Funding Opportunity for Japanese-German International Research Training Groups

As an expression of the long and fruitful scientific collaboration between their two countries, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) are pleased to announce the renewal of an agreement for a joint funding scheme to support Japanese-German International Research Training Groups. Both organisations are dedicated to strengthening the joint researcher development systems for doctoral students in Japanese and German universities.

Background and Description of International Research Training Groups

International Research Training Groups (IRTG), in which German universities cooperate with research institutions in other countries, combine innovative top-level research and the structured promotion of excellent early career researchers. As bilateral collaborations set up by experienced scientists, IRTG promote systematic scientific cooperation through joint research programmes and corresponding qualification measures for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers. A central feature of IRTG are coordinated and reciprocal research visits by doctoral researchers to the respective partner institutions. IRTG can only be established by universities and research institutions entitled to confer doctoral degrees.

Structure of Japanese-German Research Training Groups

Applications for Japanese-German IRTG intended for JSPS-DFG funding are open to all subject areas covered by JSPS, and interdisciplinarity in joint projects is encouraged. An IRTG should be run by two teams of participating researchers in Japan and Germany, respectively. Each team should have approximately five to ten members with proven expertise both in the IRTG’s main research topic and in providing outstanding supervision to doctoral students. The participating researchers’ expertise at the two locations should be complementary and provide added value to the IRTG. Each team of participating researchers in an IRTG should be based at a single institution in Japan and Germany, respectively. In convincingly justified cases, an IRTG may be based in more than two institutions.

The Japanese and German teams in an IRTG should jointly formulate a high quality and coherent research and training programme to be implemented at both sites. The teams should have common research interests and objectives and these must be reflected in a common framework and joint project. Applications are submitted by the host institutions. For every IRTG, one member of the team on each side serves as spokesperson, being responsible for the proposal and the scientific coordination of the IRTG. This also includes responsibility for reporting to JSPS and DFG, respectively.

The programme should provide for regular exchanges of academic staff and doctoral students for the purposes of joint research and training. Doctoral students should spend a period of at least six months (and up to one year) in total during their PhD project at the respective partner institution for research and training and each doctoral student should have both a Japanese and a German supervisor. On the German side, approximately ten to fifteen doctoral researchers will be funded by DFG within a single IRTG in parallel.

Applications shall only be open to such consortia that establish a novel joint degree or double degree programme for the doctoral researchers between the two institutions in the framework of the IRTG.

Application and Evaluation of Proposals

The Japanese-German consortium will firstly need to submit a joint IRTG draft proposal simultaneously to DFG and JSPS. (For DFG, the proposal needs to be submitted by the German university.) Submission will be possible at any time without calls or deadlines, and applications are processed continuously. Draft proposals will be evaluated by written peer review by reviewers nominated both by JSPS and by DFG. On average, around six to nine months are needed for this process. In case of a positive outcome of the review process, JSPS and DFG then invite the consortium to submit a joint full proposal. Again, the joint full proposal must be sent to JSPS and DFG simultaneously. Submission must be in accordance with the respective funding organisation’s guidelines and through the established submission systems. Full proposals will be evaluated separately by JSPS and DFG.

The reviews of all proposals will be based on the DFG criteria for International Research Training Groups.

Preparatory Workshops

For new Japanese-German IRTG initiatives, DFG provides for the possibility to support a workshop for the preparation of an IRTG proposal. Funding can be granted only if research cooperation is already established and plans for the IRTG have already been consolidated. The workshop funding may either be applied for prior to the draft proposal submission, or – after positive evaluation of the draft proposal – prior to submission of the full proposal.

Further Information

Comprehensive information about Research Training Groups is available on the DFG website:

The “Guidelines for Research Training Groups and International Research Training Groups” provide a concise overview of the funding programme:

Draft proposals shall be prepared according to DFG form 1.303en (“Draft Proposal Preparation Instructions for Research Training Groups and International Research Training Groups”):

Full proposals shall be prepared according to DFG form 54.05en (“Proposal Preparation Instructions for Research Training Groups and International Research Training Groups”):

It is advisable to consult the “Guidelines for Differentiating International Research Training Groups from Research Training Groups”:

Information on how to apply for funding towards preparatory workshops can be found in DFG form 1.306en:

Information on the review criteria are specified here:

for draft proposals:

for establishment proposals:

Contact details for queries:

For the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG):

For the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS):