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Press Release No. 48 | 28 September 2010
New Approaches for Collaboration Between Science and Industry

DFG Signs Cooperation Agreement with Software Manufacturer SAP and Three Universities / Joint Research Projects Support Emerging Talent

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is taking new approaches for collaboration between science and industry. Germany's central funding organisation in the area of basic research has signed a cooperation agreement with software manufacturer SAP AG. Within the scope of this agreement, universities can conduct DFG-funded research projects together with SAP. The collaborations are primarily intended to support emerging talent in science and industry and facilitate promising research activities on both sides through the mutual use of resources. The agreements just signed will also serve as a model for further collaborations between businesses from other branches of industry and universities.

The first joint research projects to employ the new cooperation model are being undertaken by the Technical University of Dresden, the Technical University of Darmstadt and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), each together with SAP. The respective framework agreements between the DFG, SAP and the three universities have just been signed. In the joint projects, doctoral researchers from the respective university and employees from SAP will work on mutually agreed-upon research topics in the area of computer science and related areas, and in doing so will earn their doctorate. The projects will also be performed in part in the development departments of SAP.

The university projects will be funded by the DFG, whereby the participating universities submit a funding proposal in accordance with the DFG’s standard funding guidelines. The results obtained through the work performed by the universities as part of the cooperation project will be passed on to SAP. In exchange, the universities – as per the cooperation agreement – will generally receive from SAP compensation totalling 50 percent of the funding provided by the DFG, though in some instances it may even exceed this amount.

On top of these additional funds, the cooperation agreement also grants the universities permission to continue to use the results that are obtained. These may be used for both internal research projects as well as collaborations with third parties. The agreement also states that the results from the research projects must be published.

From the DFG’s perspective, these recently started collaborations are a substantial contribution to knowledge transfer, which the DFG plans to strengthen as a whole in the coming years. "A more intensive exchange between basic research and application is very important to us. Such transfer is in the interest of both parties. In no way does it serve to strengthen only the application side. Rather, it is reflected back to research, where it can provide new and important impetus," said DFG President Professor Matthias Kleiner on the occasion of the signing of the first agreements. The cooperation agreement between the DFG and SAP is a "reliable framework for such an exchange, giving equal consideration to the interests of science and industry" and can now be completed by the universities and the company. "This framework and the joint funding of the projects are a good indicator for a strategically oriented partnership between science and industry," said Kleiner. Further collaborations are welcome. This applies explicitly for all scientific disciplines.

Speaking on behalf of SAP on the occasion of the recently commenced cooperations, Dr. Joachim Schaper, Vice President SAP Research EMEA, said: "The constant exchange between science and industry is both the basis as well as guarantor for the successful introduction of innovative products and for the best-possible education of creative minds. Within the scope of our in-house doctoral programme, SAP Research has, for years, successfully cooperated with various universities. We are very pleased to have now developed a fundamental cooperation model for knowledge transfer together with the DFG and the three universities."

Further Information

DFG Contacts

Technical questions on the collaborations and knowledge transfer in general:

  • Dr. Andreas Engelke, Engineering Sciences, Tel. +49 228 885-2523, Andreas.Engelke@dfg.de

Legal questions on the cooperation model:

  • Ulrike Hagena-Schmedding, Legal Affairs, Tel. +49 228 885-2679, Ulrike.Hagena-Schmedding@dfg.de