Press Release No. 44 | 5 July 2007
In the Name of Excellence
DFG Annual Report 2006 presents a wide variety of initiatives to boost research
For the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), 2006 was above all the year of the Excellence Initiative. The DFG also continued its strategic work of creating international networks for research funding. It gave a particular boost to the issues of equal opportunities and knowledge transfer between science and business. These are just a few of the topics covered by the Annual Report 2006, presented by Germany's largest research funding organisation during its annual press conference in Berlin.
Preparations for the decisions in the first round of the Excellence Initiative kept the DFG Head Office in Bonn in suspense for much of last year. The second round of the competition had begun even before the announcement, on 13 October 2006, of the 18 graduate schools, 17 clusters of excellence and 3 universities with institutional strategies, which are set to receive a total of EUR870 million over the next five years. In September alone, 261 applications were received.
At the same time, however, the DFG's core business continued unabated. "The continuity of our processes", Professor Matthias Kleiner emphasised in his first preface to an annual report, having been in office as President of the DFG since January 2006, "forms the basis on which programmes such as the Excellence Initiative can establish themselves".
Internationally, the highlight of the DFG's work included the opening of the DFG's new Liaison Office in New Delhi, which will promote close cooperation between German and Indian scientists. In addition to this, liaison scientists were also recruited in Brazil and Poland to establish future networks. In 2006, the Copernicus Award was presented for the first time by the DFG and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP), in recognition of outstanding services to German-Polish scientific cooperation.
The promotion of outstanding young researchers was also given high priority in 2006. It is for this reason that a whole chapter of the annual report is once again dedicated to this topic. The meetings held for Emmy Noether fellows and grant recipients in the DFG Fellowship Programme in Potsdam and Boston are dealt with, as is the success of the Heisenberg-Programme and the first Academy of Excellence in Medical Technology, which taught 20 young researchers about the techniques of modern imaging technology.
In signing the "Equal Opportunities Drive" (Offensive für Chancengleichheit), the DFG took an important step towards achieving gender equality in academic careers - and also set itself the target of significantly increasing the percentage of women sitting on its Review Boards over the next five years. Also launched in 2006 was an initiative for knowledge transfer between science and business, which aims to make the results of basic research in every discipline more accessible to German business and thus improve the career prospects of young researchers in industry. It will allow young postdoctoral researchers to apply for an Emmy Noether fellowship or for their own positions in a company or other institution, as long as the setting and the project they are working on serves to promote knowledge transfer.
The year 2006 was also the last year in office for the previous President of the DFG, Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, whose influence still pervades the annual report. Winnacker, a biochemist, was at the helm of the DFG for nine years in all. "Not only did Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker form and make a significant contribution to the DFG's development during his years in office, he also gave great impetus to both the German and the European science systems", his successor Matthias Kleiner writes in the annual report.
Aesthetically the report is in full colour again for the second time, presenting a modern image, a change that was introduced with the previous report and met with great popularity. "A breath of fresh air," "easily comprehensible," "graphically appealing" were the words used by the German broadsheet the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to describe the new layout and the articles, some of which were written by journalists. With a four-colour cover image by a renowned science photographer and twice as many graphics inside, the Annual Report 2006 is even more vibrant and vivid than its predecessor.
Facts and figures 2006
The DFG's total income in the past year amounted to EUR1.41 billion. Of this, 58.2% came from the Federal Government, 41.4% from the states and 0.4% from foundations and other private donations.
Of the total funding granted, 14.3% went to the humanities and social sciences, 38.7% went to the life sciences, 26.0% to natural sciences and 21.0% to engineering. The DFG's coordinated programmes received a total of EUR817.4 million in 2006 - EUR428.7 million of which went to 300 Collaborative Research Centres (including Transfer Units), Transregional Collaborative Research Centres and Research Centres, EUR30.9 million to six DFG Research Centres, EUR94.4 million to 291 Research Training Groups, EUR141.3 million to 128 Priority Programmes, EUR104.0 million to 196 Research Units (including Clinical Research Units) and EUR0.3 million to two Humanities Research Centres. A further EUR15.7 million was awarded in prizes.
The Annual Report 2006 is available online from the DFG website from
- Externer Linkwww.dfg.de/jahresbericht/ (available in German only).
There you will also find the section of the report entitled "Programmes and Projects," which provides a summary of the funding approvals and brief profiles of the coordinated programmes, central facilities and prize winners (available in German and English).
The annual report is available on CD-ROM, including the section of the report entitled "Programmes and Projects," and may be ordered from the DFG's Press and Public Relations Office. Contact:
- Michael Hönscheid, Tel. +49 228 885-2109, Fax: +49 228 885-2180, email: Michael.Hoenscheid@dfg.de.