Most funded research area: Berlin is a leader in science – but Munich is catching up

Most funded research area: Berlin is a leader in science – but Munich is catching up

Along with Munich, Berlin is the research metropolis in Germany – well ahead of other cities and regions. Scientists from Berlin and Munich raise most of the research funding. This derives from the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) new funding atlas, which was presented on Tuesday.

The DFG Funding Atlas is published every three years, where funds from Germany’s largest research funding organization are going. Berlin has topped as a research city for more than a decade, but the edge has waned over Munich. Whereas three years ago the difference was about one hundred million euros, now it is 20.

Universities with Strong Networks

As before, the “Lower Neckar” area around Heidelberg and Mannheim came in third. DFG President Katja Becker said, in addition to these three “hotspots” of science, there will be 13 areas with very strong funding volumes of more than 200 million euros: “This shows how diverse and spatially the scientific landscape in Germany distributed.”

The most successful fields are characterized by a “critical mass” of scientific institutions, which are strongly intertwined with each other.

If one evaluates individual universities, the two Munich universities (LMU and the Technical University) double for the first time. They received 369 and 346 million euros respectively in third-party funding. It is followed by Heidelberg University (332 million). The Funding Atlas collates funding for the years 2017 to 2019.

FU ranked 6th, HU 11th

The Frei Universitat Berlin is in sixth place (283 million euros), Humboldt University in eleventh place (236 million euros). FU is one place behind, HU two places behind. The Technical University of Berlin is ranked 26th. FU and TU were able to recoup the absolute amount of funding, however, HU maintained its level here.

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The University of Potsdam does not make it into the top 40 (63 million euros). However, there is no dramatic fluctuation in the ranking of universities compared to the previous edition of the funding atlas.

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Overall, universities that have been successful in the competition are at the top since the launch of the Excellence Initiative. Baker spoke of a “high degree of sustainability”, the strengths of the universities concerned are based on “long-term growth and a broad foundation”.

Becker highlighted the Technical University of Dresden as an “impressive success story”, which now ranks fifth among all universities. However, in the long term, there is no discrepancy in the science system: the gap between universities at the upper and lower ends will not widen. “There is no indication of cut-off competition.”

Like Merkel: Wishing for a new federal government

Baker also emphasized that the proportion of competing research funding, compared to basic funding of universities, has gradually decreased in recent years. In 2013, third-party funding hit a high of 28.1 percent. By 2019, it had fallen slightly to 26.9 per cent.

The German Research Foundation receives distributed research funding from the federal government. Asked what he expected from the incoming federal government, Baker referred to outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “strong awareness of the interests of science”: “The next federal government should do the same.”

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One of the issues that the upcoming government must definitely focus on is the continuation of the strategy of excellence. Baker said research organizations had already begun planning how existing projects would be evaluated and new projects selected in 2025/26.

However, it is not yet clear how many new research groups may be funded. Baker called on politicians to “open up a suitably competitive field”. Universities could not be expected to support only seven or eight new groups if the first 150 applications were received. So funds will have to be available for a total of 70 to 80 groups. Which is 150 to 200 million euro more than before. Presently 57 clusters are being funded.

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