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Press Release No. 33 | 14 July 2023
DFG President Signs Agreement with UK Research and Innovation in London

Expansion of bilateral funding opportunities with the UK / call for proposals already planned in the field of integrative microbiome research

President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Professor Dr. Katja Becker (right) and UKRI Chief Executive Dame Ottoline Leyser (left) sign a Memorandum of Understanding in London.

President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Professor Dr. Katja Becker (right) and UKRI Chief Executive Dame Ottoline Leyser (left) sign a Memorandum of Understanding in London.

© Joel Knight

The President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), Professor Dr. Katja Becker, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British partner organisation UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in London. This sends out an important signal in view of the difficult negotiations currently underway to associate the United Kingdom with the European Union’s current Horizon Europe Research Framework Programme: the signing will significantly strengthen bilateral UK-German collaboration in the field of basic research after Brexit. The central research funding organisations of the two countries also reaffirmed that they would continue to tackle global challenges together in the future.

“The agreement between the DFG and UKRI underlines our joint commitment and great interest in developing bilateral relations between the UK and Germany in science and the humanities and research at the highest level,” said Becker in London’s Central Hall Westminster. “We hope that this will establish a framework for sustainable and optimum cooperation, enabling researchers from both countries to establish new bilateral contacts and work together in a spirit of trust.”

UKRI Chief Executive Dame Ottoline Leyser said: “I’m delighted that in initiating our agreement, we’ve been able to build on the UK’s long-standing research relationship with the DFG. The agreement is open to all UK Research Councils that are members of the umbrella organisation UKRI. It will enable closer collaboration across all disciplines and is excellent news for researchers in Germany and the UK.”

The German Ambassador in London, Miguel Berger, was also present at the signing of the agreement: “Close and productive cooperation between British and German research institutions has a long-standing tradition, so I’m pleased to see that today’s Memorandum of Understanding will help tap into this collaborative research potential in the two countries,” said Ambassador Berger.

Since 2017, UKRI has been the umbrella organisation for the independent seven Research Councils in the UK, which together have an annual funding volume of £8 billion at their disposal across all scientific disciplines, as well performing innovation and networking tasks. The agreement now signed facilitates the conclusion of individual funding agreements and will serve as a framework for subject-specific initiatives. On this basis, bilateral projects can be submitted as joint proposals by researchers in the UK and Germany, where they will be reviewed and funded by the research organisations through coordinated lead agency procedures. The individual subject-specific Research Councils will be responsible for determining the topics of the calls for proposals and the design of the agreements with the DFG.

A first joint call for proposals is to be issued shortly by the DFG and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in the field of integrative microbiome research. Further agreements in areas such as medicine and physics are in preparation. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the DFG already have an agreement, signed in 2018, on annual thematically unrestricted calls for UK-German proposals in the humanities and cultural studies. The 76 projects funded to date under the four previous rounds of calls demonstrate the strong mutual interest in bilateral research funding.

The signing of the agreement took place at a ceremony at Central Hall Westminster in the immediate vicinity of the seat of the UK Parliament. In addition to representatives from the DFG and UKRI, high-ranking guests from the research community were invited, including delegates from all seven British Research Councils and the British Academy.

Further information

Media contact:

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

On the DFG’s latest call for proposals with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC):