Among the developed countries, Canada is an increasingly important partner for collaboration in the area of research and education. Topics of joint interest primarily include environmental research, energy, biotechnology and medical research, nanotechnology and Arctic research. In 2011, the 40th anniversary of the agreement provided the opportunity to further intensify the cooperation as part of a joint anniversary year and to launch new trendsetting projects.
Political framework for bilateral cooperation in research and education
Germany is one of the few countries with which Canada has concluded an intergovernmental agreement regarding scientific and technological collaboration. The agreement came into force on 30 June 1971 and has led to a dynamic bilateral collaboration in science and technology. In 2011, the 40th anniversary of the agreement provides the opportunity to further intensify the cooperation as part of a joint anniversary year.
In addition, a cultural agreement with Canada has been in force since 1975. In 2002, the BMBF, acting on behalf of the Federal Government, signed a joint declaration with Canada to establish an exchange programme for young workers. Moreover, an agreement between Canada and the EU was finalised in 1999.
Alongside this contractual framework, it should be highlighted that Canada has made substantial R&D investments in universities, research institutions and industry in the last few years. This has resulted in significant potential for the collaboration.
Key areas of cooperation between Germany and Canada
Over the course of the collaboration, the key areas of cooperation have been adapted to the national priorities of both countries, and currently focus essentially on the following areas:
- A focal point of joint interest is plant genome research. After the conclusion of bilateral projects on quality improvement and resistance against plant diseases from wheat and rapeseed, a continuation and expansion of the successful collaboration in plant genome research is currently being explored.
- Germany and Canada are strategic partners in the field of fuel cell research. The BMBF/Ref. 722 (Basic Energy Research) is currently funding a German-Canadian collaborative project on the topic of PEM fuel cells. Furthermore, in 2010, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia added a bilateral project to its funding programme in which German and Canadian scientists are working to develop affordable fuel cells with a wide range of applications.
- In the area of geosciences, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, BGR) is undertaking joint research projects with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), especially in the fields of marine and terrestrial environmental geology and polar geology.
- The German Aerospace Center (Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) is cooperating directly with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canada Center for Remote Sensing (CCRS) and various universities. They are focusing here on research into robotics, communal use of radar data and reciprocal use of ground stations.
- The Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI) works intensively and successfully with Canadian partners at the TRIUMF research institute.
- The Helmholtz Alberta Initiative, an agreement to intensify collaboration in the fields of environmental research and the geosciences, was signed on 29 September 2009. An expansion into health research is scheduled.
- In July 2011, the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT launched a collaboration, which will span several years, with the University of Western Ontario (Western) in London, Ontario. German and Canadian researchers will explore the field of lightweight construction in the joint "Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research @ Western".
- The partnerships between individual federal states and provinces form a further component of the cooperation: Baden-Württemberg cooperates with Ontario, Bavaria with Québec and Saxony with Alberta. Most recently, the "Alberta Saxony Intercultural Internship Alliance" was launched in February 2010; 15 higher education institutions from Saxony and nine from Alberta are taking part in this internship exchange programme.
- Multilateral projects are becoming increasingly important due to global challenges, e.g. in environmental and marine research, space travel and climate protection. Germany and Canada are close partners in corresponding networks.
- As part of the activities of the 7th research framework programme, the "Access2Canada - Supporting EU Access to Canadian Research and Innovation Programmes" project began in autumn 2009, and the BILAT project with Canada in autumn 2010, both with the participation of the BMBF.
A highlight of bilateral cooperation
In neuroscience, German and Canadian scientists are collaborating intensively and productively, primarily within the framework of European initiatives, e.g. the ERA-NET NEURON ("Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research"). Canadian partners are also involved with the "Centers of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (COEN)" and the "Joint Programming Neurodegeneration (JPND)", both of which are first and foremost initiatives of European nations. German and Canadian scientists are similarly collaborating on the issue of neuroscience and ageing.
Funding for collaborations with Canada
In addition to funding from the BMBF's specialist programmes, the division responsible for cooperation with Canada (214) supports various activities (e.g. workshops) and the promotion of young researchers. Initiatives for promoting Germany as a study and research location are also gaining in importance.
Special activities of the International Bureau
At the Max Planck – University of British Columbia Center for Quantum Materials, German and Canadian scientists are cooperating in the area of new materials. These measures are being supported by the International Bureau for several years.