Berlin, along with Munich, is the research capital of Germany – far ahead of other cities and regions. Scientists from Berlin and Munich collect most of the research funding. That came from the new German Research Foundation’s (DFG) Funding Atlas, which was presented on Tuesday.
DFG Funding Atlas publishes every three years where the money goes from Germany’s largest research funding institution. Berlin has been ranked number one as a research city for more than a decade, but the lead over Munich has waned. While the difference was about a hundred million euros three years ago, it is now 20.
Strongly Connected Universities
As before, the “Loire Neckar” area around Heidelberg and Mannheim came third. In addition to these three science “hotspots”, there will be 13 other regions with a very strong funding volume of over €200 million, as DFG President Katja Becker said: “This shows how diverse and spatially distributed the science landscape is in Germany.”
The most successful regions are characterized by a “critical mass” of scientific institutions, which are also closely networked with each other.
If one evaluates individual universities, then the two universities of Munich (LMU and Technical University) will for the first time double at the top. They received 369 and 346 million euros, respectively, in third-party financing. It is followed by Heidelberg University (332 million). The Finance Atlas adds funding for the years 2017 to 2019.
FU in sixth place, Heliopolis University in eleventh place
Freie Universität Berlin takes sixth place (283 million euros), Humboldt University in eleventh place (236 million euros). FU is located in one place behind, HU is located two places. Technical University of Berlin ranks 26th. FU and TU have managed to improve the absolute amount of funding, however, HU has maintained its level here.
The University of Potsdam did not reach the top 40 universities (63 million euros). However, there are no significant fluctuations in university rankings compared to the previous version of the Finance Atlas.
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In general, the universities that have successfully competed since the inception of the Excellence Initiative are at the top. Baker spoke of a “high level of stability”, and the respective universities’ strengths depended on “long-term and broad-based development”.
Becker highlighted the Technical University of Dresden as an “impressive success story”, which now ranks fifth among all universities. However, in the long run, there is no contradiction in the science system: the gaps between universities will not increase in the upper and lower limits. “There is no indication of violent competition.”
As with Merkel: the desire for a new federal government
Baker also emphasized that the proportion of research funds distributed in competition compared to core funding to universities has slowly declined again in recent years. In 2013, third-party funding was 28.1 percent. By 2019, it had fallen slightly to 26.9 percent.
The German Research Foundation receives the research funds it distributes from the federal government. When asked what she expects from the next federal government, Baker referred to outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “strong awareness of the interests of science”: “This should also be the case in the next federal government.”
One of the issues that the next government must definitely deal with is the continuation of the strategy of excellence. Becker said that research organizations have already begun to plan for how they will carry out the evaluation of existing projects and the selection of new projects in 2025/26.
However, it is not yet clear how many new research groups could ever be funded. Baker called politicians to “open up a suitable competitive space”. Universities were only expected to support seven or eight new groups if 150 pre-applications were received. Funding should therefore be available for a total of 70 to 80 groups .. which is 150 to 200 million euros more than before. Currently 57 groups are being funded.
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