Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Summary of the call for proposals

"Partnerships for sustainable solutions in developing and emerging countries - Research for development"

Pilot measures for partnerships in science, research and education with the Central Asian and South Caucasus countries

world map with pointer on CIS

27 October 2015


Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) continue to gain strategic importance in the light of globalization and at the same time they belong to a geopolitically highly sensitive region of the world. They are particularly affected by global challenges including growing risks with regard to health care, food and water supply. The complex issues of climate change, geohazards, water management, health threats and food security are visible examples of the interdependencies between these three global public goods in the region. 
Science and research are among the key factors for addressing these challenges.  They have a catalytic effect on other fundamental sectors of society (economic development, development of civil societies).

Therefore, Germany wants to live up to its responsibility towards these two regions and intensify the partnerships to jointly tackle the challenges.  Understanding cooperation as a partnership is the essential precondition for achieving research results that can be implemented in the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus in a sustainable way. The mutual transfer of information and knowledge will take into account the diverse needs and contribute towards the development of existing potential.

That is where this funding measure comes in. It is to serve mainly as an incentive for German universities and non-university research institutions to develop new cooperative approaches together with partners from Central Asia and the South Caucasus in accordance with their scientific strengths and problem-solving expertise and in this way to significantly extend and reliably network German development-related research capacities in the longer term.

At the same time, these partnerships are to contribute to the expansion of the scientific capacities of the foreign partners to enable (young) qualified scientists to pursue a research career in their home country. This will be realized by means of training measures for young researchers, by contributions to the further development of research management and, last but not least, by the extension of specific research infrastructures. Another goal is to increase the involvement of partners from the target countries in international consortiums with German participation. A special aim is to support networking with researchers from other countries (e. g. through trilateral collaborations with other industrialized or emerging countries). Cooperation between the countries of the region in research and development (R&D) is of strategic importance and will also be promoted. One objective is the “regionalization” of activities in Central Asia or the South Caucasus.

Funding topics

This call for proposals aims at promoting research on the issue of supply security while taking into account the local and regional implementation of research results in rural and urban areas. The focus is on the investigation of the complex cause-and-effect relationship between three different, yet intertwined, fields of research.

  • Preventive health care: Reducing environmental diseases and health risks. Both research on the reduction of infectious diseases and on neglected and/or poverty-related diseases is eligible for funding, as is research on the mitigation of the impact of geohazards on people's livelihoods, e.g. by enhancing risk governance, monitoring, control and/or prevention systems or disaster management. General issues concerning the development of civil society and the enhancement of the people's bases of life can also play a role.
  • Food security: Reducing vulnerability, increasing resilience and fostering a more sustainable bioeconomy. Funding will be provided to research along the exploitation chains which aims to enhance agricultural cultivation and harvesting methods; adapt agriculture to climate, location and soil as well as to drought and salinization conditions; enhance the storage, processing, transport and distribution of food products; reduce malnutrition and enhance nutritional and food quality.
  • Water supply: Research on sustainable water management in rural and urban areas, while taking account of the regional impact of climate change. Funding will be provided for research on adapted and efficient use of water resources; more effective water supply for farmers, rural and urban populations; more sustainable land and water use systems; the interaction and interdependency between water and land use; reducing the people's vulnerability and increasing their resilience to water scarcity.

Socio-economic research aspects should be an integral part of the topics in order to ensure research along the cause-and-effect relations and the subsequent  implementation of measures as well as value creation through research results. Since fundamental research is a precondition for knowledge-based problem solving, projects will be eligible for funding that are suitably linked to the above mentioned application-oriented research areas and thus also serve the purpose of basic research capacity building in the target countries. In the light of increasing urbanization, addressing the outlined supply security issues plays an important role in the areas of health, food and water in the context of urban development.

Special account will be taken of collaborations of complementary players (e.g. universities, research institutions, foundations and companies) in order to promote networking of German development-related research activities. Funding will be provided to pilot measures for research partnerships which

  • explore new or enhanced opportunities of joint research or implement such opportunities as pilot projects and which thereby promote the internationalization of research at universities, research institutions and companies in Germany and Central Asia and/or the South Caucasus,
  • aim at advancing relevant and shared topics through research collaborations,
  • develop innovation hubs in the partner country in order to increase  the country's competitiveness,
  • are based on existing cooperation or bring about new collaborations,
  • integrate and make available local and regional know-how,
  • prepare proposals for follow-up projects, e.g. under BMBF or DFG funding programmes, the partner country's national programmes (if applicable), EU programmes and other programmes of national and international development cooperation organizations (KfW banking group, GIZ, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc.).

Recipients of funding

German universities, non-university research institutions and other institutions contributing to research as well as commercial companies headquartered in Germany – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – which fulfil the funding purpose and requirements and are engaged in collaboration with partner institutions from Central Asia and/or the South Caucasus are eligible for funding.

Prerequisites for funding

The project outline must be submitted by the German applicant or collaboration together with at least one, preferably several other scientific partner institutions from Central Asia and/or the South Caucasus. The involvement of further European partners (not funded by the BMBF) would be greatly welcomed. International research institutions located in the respective countries can be involved in the project as additional partners (not receiving funding).

Partners in a collaborative project must regulate their cooperation in a written cooperation agreement. Before a funding decision on a collaborative project is taken, the cooperation partners must prove that they have reached a basic agreement on certain criteria stipulated by the BMBF.

Type, scope and rates of funding

Pilot measures by research collaborations consisting of scientists from Germany and Central Asia and/or the South Caucasus will generally awarded funding for up to 24 months totalling a maximum of 150,000 euros per project.

The following are envisaged as eligible expenditures/costs for funding:

  • Travel expenses (up to 4 weeks)
    Fixed rate of 104 euros per day or 2,300 euros per month. Contributions to health insurance and, if applicable, other types of insurance are included in this allowance and must be paid by the foreign partner.
  • Planning and qualification workshops in Germany and Central Asia and/or the South Caucas
  • Staff costs

The following applies with regard to funding staff from Central Asia/the South Caucasus:

  • Project-related costs/expenses for young scientists from Central Asia and/or the South Caucasus in the respective partner countries can be funded up to the usual national rate. This rate must be confirmed in a letter countersigned by an authorized representative of the relevant institution.  The letter must also comprise the institution's pledge to actually disburse the specified amount to the person in question in accordance with his/her specified qualifications.
  • Project-related resources and equipment

As a rule, no funding will be provided to cover normal basic equipment such as:

  • Expenses for office supplies, communication, etc.,
  • Technical IT and lab equipment,
  • Bank fees incurred for conducting transactions.