In 2016, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) funded more than 31,000 research projects with a total funding volume of around €3 billion. Of these projects, about 7,900 were newly approved projects which received approximately €2 billion in funding. Compared with last year, the number of overall funded projects increased by more than 3% and the total approved sum by more than 6%. These figures are taken from the 2016 Annual Report, presented by the DFG - the largest research funding organisation and central self-governing organisation of the research community in Germany -- on 5 July 2017 at the General Assembly during its annual meeting in Halle (Saale).
DFG funding activities in 2016 -- key facts and figures
Last year the DFG funded a total of 31,485 projects. For these projects it approved total funding of €3.033 billion, of which more than 67% came from the federal government and around 32% from the state governments. The total amount approved in 2016 was therefore nearly €193 million higher than in 2015, and the number of projects 1,014 higher. The number of newly approved projects remained almost the same at 7,933 compared with 7,920, but the funds approved for these projects also increased - from €1.93 billion in 2015 to approximately €2.05 billion.
In 2016, once again more than half of all funded projects, or 15,902, were supported through the individual grants programme; a total of approximately €1 billion was approved for these projects, over €110 million more than in 2015. In Research Training Groups, Collaborative Research Centres and other coordinated programmes, funding was awarded to 816 groups with around 13,300 projects and a total approved sum of approximately €1.25 billion. The 99 projects funded through the Excellence Initiative received around €533 million.
In terms of the major research categories, in 2016 the life sciences again received the most funding with around €1 billion (34.7% of the total sum awarded), followed by the natural sciences with around €665 million (21.9%), the engineering sciences with around €585 million (19.3%) and the humanities and social sciences with €468 million (15.4%); interdisciplinary projects received €263 million (8.7%) in funding.
The annual report, also published in book form, contains these and other figures, statistics and diagrams, as well as profiles of selected research projects, the focal areas of funding activity and the DFG's involvement in issues affecting the research system and science policy. In 2016, as in previous years, special attention was given to Germany's Excellence Initiative, its development into the Excellence Strategy, and the initial phase of this programme. However, this was far from being the only focal point, as DFG President Prof. Dr. Peter Strohschneider and Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek point out in their foreword to the report: "The funding of the best knowledge-driven research in the many other funding programmes and the associated day-to-day work involved in reviewing, evaluating, decision-making and administration were, seen as a whole, even more prominent this year."
In their foreword, Strohschneider and Dzwonnek also touch on the current situation regarding research in Germany and the rest of the world. In 2016 the work of the DFG, like German research as a whole, enjoyed the support of "broad political and public trust". "This is markedly and positively distinct from the authoritarian or populist attacks on science and its freedom, which we are increasingly witnessing, with great concern, in the world. This makes it all the more important to value and protect the openness and pluralism of our research system."
Topics and outcomes at the annual meeting in Halle (Saale)
The DFG's three-day annual meeting, hosted by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Halle (Saale), ended on 5 July with the presentation of the 2016 Annual Report and its acceptance by the General Assembly. Since Monday, all the central bodies of the DFG have met, from the Executive Committee and the Senate to the Joint Committee and the General Assembly.
Another key topic of discussion was further measures on the part of the DFG to improve gender equality in research. The bodies adopted a multipart resolution that envisages the continuation of the Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality, which have been implemented in the DFG's member organisations since 2008, and also gives a more prominent future role to gender equality in the DFG's funding activities.
Key funding decisions included the establishment of seven Research Units and one Clinical Research Unit; the Senate also approved a funding initiative for high-throughput sequencing, this being the first time that funds have been awarded specifically to support sequencing projects at universities.
In the General Assembly, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar was accepted as a new member of the DFG, bringing the total number of members to 96. The representatives of the member organisations also re-elected three members of the DFG Executive Committee -- Vice Presidents Prof. Dr. Katja Becker, Prof. Dr. Marlis Hochbruck and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schön - for another four years. In the Senate, seven new members were elected -- four women and three men -- and six were re-elected for another period in office.
The formal event held on the evening of 4 July during the annual meeting was attended by prominent government representatives, including the Minister-President of Saxony-Anhalt, Dr. Reiner Haseloff, the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, and Bremen's Senator for Science and Chair of the Joint Science Conference (GWK), Prof. Dr. Eva Quante-Brandt. Here too, the current political and social situation in relation to research was discussed, especially in the speech given by DFG President Strohschneider on research amid the spread of populism.
At the start of the evening, Karlsruhe-based materials scientist Prof. Dr. Britta Nestler was presented belatedly with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2017. Nestler had been chosen to receive the award in December 2016, but the presentation was halted in March following the receipt of anonymous information shortly before the award ceremony in connection with her research work, which had to be investigated. The investigation revealed no evidence of scientific misconduct, with the result that Nestler was able to be formally presented with the Leibniz Prize in Halle.
On Monday, 3 July the DFG and the Stifterverband presented this year's Communicator Award. The award, which is worth €50,000, went to Cologne-based geologist and climate researcher Dr. Stefan Kröpelin for his dedicated and effective communication of his research on the Sahara, which among other things has resulted in a number of regions being recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The next annual meeting of the DFG will take place between 2 and 4 July 2018 in Bonn.
Marco Finetti, Head of DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. 49-228-885-2230, Marco.Finetti@dfg.de
DFG 2016 Annual Report:
The 2016 Annual Report is available online at: http://www.
A printed copy can be requested from: DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. 49-228-885-2109, firstname.lastname@example.org