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Press Release No. 33 | 13 July 2010
Polishing Profiles, Adding Impetus

A Packet of Pacts; More Flexible Funding; Research Highlights: The DFG Annual Report 2009 Presents Strategic Innovations and Model Projects

In order to be fit for the future, the research landscape needs a distinctive and clearly defined profile and ongoing impetus. The approximately 300 pages of the new annual report published by Germany’s central research funding organisation demonstrates clearly the DFG’s (DFG, German Research Foundation) strong commitment to this principle. This report was presented by the DFG on Thursday, 8 July 2010, at its annual press conference in Berlin.

Featuring the DFG’s new corporate design for the first time, the 2009 Annual Report devotes equal space to showcasing the funding organisation’s strategic activities and innovations and presenting exemplary research projects.

From a strategic perspective, 2009 was, as DFG President Professor Matthias Kleiner emphasised in his introduction, an “exceptionally active and exciting year, for universities, research institutions, and also for the DFG”. This year’s outstanding event was the decision taken by the German federal and state governments to continue the Excellence Initiative, the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation and the Higher Education Pact, and to increase the funding made available to these programmes. Around 18 billion euros will be invested in this “packet of pacts” by 2018, some five billion of which the DFG will invest in basic research. The Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation secures the DFG an annual 5% budgetary increase, while the Higher Education Pact guarantees the overhead funding for indirect expenses in DFG projects. Thanks to the “Excellence Agreement II”, competition for graduate schools, clusters of excellence and concepts for the future can continue to drive top-level research in Germany, as well as improve universities’ profiles.

The DFG also sought to further raise the profile of its own portfolio in 2009, and focused particularly on the concepts of flexibilisation and simplification. This has enabled project-related operating costs, as well as follow-up expenses for major instrumentation, to be financed by the DFG, and allowed positions instead of fellowships to be applied for in all subjects within Research Training Groups. This will ensure that young researchers are retained in science and the humanities. In addition, to provide them with more autonomy and freedom, from now on universities will be allocating funding for positions, major instrumentation etc. themselves, rather than receiving funding, the use of which has been specifically position-related up to now.

The most traditional fields of science, however, are also in need of new profiles and fresh impetus – and they themselves are providing them. In 2009, this was especially true for biology and its new field, synthetic biology. This branch of biology creates or re-creates “biological systems”, for example, in order to furnish living organisms with new characteristics. Through more sophisticated genetic engineering methods and the involvement of engineering principles, new vaccines and medications as well as fuels and new materials are being created. Early-stage public dialogue is decisive for the success and acceptance of new technologies, and, to this end, the DFG published a joint paper with acatech, the German Academy of Science and Engineering and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2009. As well as presenting selected research fields, the paper also discussed the challenges, safety issues and – last but not least – the ethical aspects of synthetic biology.

The Annual Report showcases the variety and high quality of DFG-funded research in 2009 with journalistic style contributions illustrating exemplary projects from all branches of science and the humanities. These projects run the gamut from climate and energy research in the natural sciences to the first long-term study on voter behaviour in Germany in the humanities and social sciences. In the life sciences, the projects described range “from molecules to ecosystems”, while the engineering sciences bring the “world of the tiny” (Welt der kleinsten Dinge) to life. Other contributions relate to the funded fields of “Scientific Instrumentation – Information Technology” and “Scientific Library Services and Information Systems”. The most significant activities in the promotion of young scientific researchers are also described, as are those in the fields of international cooperation and scientific communication. Finally, an interview with DFG Secretary-General Dorothee Dzwonnek provides insight into the management aspects of science, an issue becoming increasingly important in research funding.

Facts and Figures 2009

Traditionally, the Annual Report also summarises the most important facts and figures concerning the DFG’s funding activities. In 2009, the DFG received 2.186 billion euros. Of this, 66.2 % came from the German federal government, 33.5 % came from the state governments, and 0.3% from foundations and private donations.

17,304 research projects received funding from various programmes. The total funding amount approved was 2.739 billion euros (including funding allocated over several years). Of this, 983.2 million euros in individual funding was awarded. The coordinated programmes received 1.502 billion euros. This included 529.4 million euros for 261 Collaborative Research Centres, 127.8 million euros for 258 Research Training Groups, 218.5 million euros for 113 Priority Programmes, 173.9 million euros for 246 Research Units (including Clinical Research Units), and 39.2 million euros for six DFG Research Centres. Programmes within the Excellence Initiative received 413.2 million euros.

The funding amounts were divided as follows among the various scientific disciplines: 38.8% for life sciences, 24.3% for natural sciences, 21.3% for engineering sciences and 15.6% for the humanities and social sciences.

Further Information

The 2009 Annual Report can be accessed online at

There, you will find the “Programmes and Projects” report section, an overview of the funding measures approved, and a wide variety of other information.

The 2009 Annual Report is also available in print form or as a DVD-ROM featuring the “Programmes and Projects” section. Both versions can be ordered from the DFG’s Press and Public Relations Division.

Contact Person:

  • Michael Hönscheid, Tel. +49 228 885-2109, Fax +49 228 885-2180, Michael.Hoenscheid@dfg.de