Science and research in Germany

Straubing Science Center

Straubing Science Center, © dpa/picture-alliance

15.02.2018 - Article

Science and research in Germany are characterized by an excellent infrastructure and well-equipped research facilities with highly qualified staff. Germany offers a host of research locations, from universities, including universities of applied sciences, to non-university institutes, companies and federal as well as Länder institutions. Around 750 public-funded research institutions exist alongside research and development centres run by businesses.

- Germany is home to over 350 universities. The education they provide is shaped by the symbiosis of teaching and research. The Federal Government and the Länder have set up the Initiative for Excellence to support top-level research and to make Germany more competitive as a research location.

- The Fraunhofer Society conducts applied research for private as well as public enterprises and for the general benefit of the public. It has more than 80 centres overall and is the largest organization for applied research in Europe.

- The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres integrates 17 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres and is the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

- The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community, known as the Leibniz Association, is the umbrella organisation for 86 research institutions which address scientific issues of importance to society as a whole.

- The Max Planck Society is an independent, non-profit research organisation named after the world-famous physicist Max Planck (1858-1947). Primarily, it performs basic research in the sciences as well as the humanities, thus complementing research projects at universities.

Young Germans Engage in Research

Two pupils from Darmstadt studied the effects of green tea and rose hip tea substances on herpes virus (© picture alliance / dpa) Forty-five years ago, young Germans were invited to participate in a research competition under the motto “We’re Looking for the Researchers of Tomorrow!” – marking the birth of the Young Researchers competition. The aim of the contest is to arouse young Germans’ enthusiasm for science and research and to promote the up-and-coming young scientists and researchers who are so essential to Germany’s future. Young Researchers is now considered Europe’s biggest young talent contest in the categories the working world, biology, chemistry, geo- and space sciences, mathematics/computer science, physics and engineering.

More than 10,000 young people took part in this year’s nationwide Young Researchers competition. A hundred and seven of their projects, in which a total of 179 young people were involved, made it to the national finals. Ten projects eventually received awards from Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan.

The competition is open to pupils of schools in Germany and German schools abroad, provided they have a good command of German (for more information on competition entry rules, follow the link below to the “Jugend forscht” website). Contestants are initially required to submit a written exposé of their project. The competition proper is then held on three levels: first, the young innovators take part in one of the regional contests; then, the winners compete at federal state level; finally, the best minds are invited to participate in the national finals.

Originally conceived by the magazine “stern”, the competition is now organized by the “Stiftung Jugend forscht e.V.” (Young Researchers Foundation) in Hamburg, in cooperation with the German Federal Government, “stern”, German companies and schools. The “Stiftung Jugend forscht” is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the competition is held under the patronage of the Federal President.

The winners of the Young Researchers competition receive attractive cash and non-cash prizes. But the young researchers probably benefit much more from the experience they gain in project work, from the media competence they acquire and from what is mostly their first contact with top-flight research. For many of the young researchers, competing in the contest is the springboard to a successful scientific career, as evidenced by the fact that many contestants go on to become science students.

© Auswärtiges Amt

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