As an industrialised nation, Australia has a highly developed and wide-ranging science sector. The primary research target of the Australian government is closer collaboration between the public research institution and industry. Cooperation with Germany on education and research is moving forward in a very positive way.

View on Sydney

© Hans-Jörg Stähle / DLR

Funding opportunities

As part of the bilateral cooperation in research and education between Germany and Australia, funds can be granted to establish new contacts, develop international research projects and flank international projects in priority cooperation areas.

Applications can only be submitted during certain periods following a prior funding announcement. These announcements are published at irregular intervals.

Political framework

The historic importance of the European dimension to the Australian education and research landscape led to Australia being the first country to sign a Science and Technology Agreement with the European Union in 1994. The German-Australian cooperation in turn dates back to an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1976.

In addition, there is a cooperation agreement on education between the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the Australian Research Council (ARC). Other agreements are in place between the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Priorities of the cooperation

Scientific and technological cooperation with Australia encompasses three complementary areas:

  • Exchange of students and young scientists via the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the German Research Community (DFG), which acts as a hub for projects and long-term cooperation.
  • “Mobility projects” run by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD (“project-based personnel exchange programmes”, PPP) and meant to initiate and prepare joint research projects: workshops, conferences and reciprocal visits by specialist delegations.
  • Establishment of joint research infrastructure and “Travelling Conferences” to explore excellent research networks (BMBF through the International Bureau).

The main focus for cooperation is on bilateral research agreements in the fields of

  • Environmental research and technologies
  • Geo, Marine and Antarctic research
  • Health research
  • Renewable energy

A particular focus is on giving stronger support to young scientists.

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

In December 2018, a delegation led by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) travelled to Australia to hold talks on the future design of science and technology cooperation. In the years ahead, joint cooperation efforts will focus on innovation, such as the collaboration of German research clusters with their Australian equivalents in energy research and research infrastructures. Both countries view the involvement of young scientists as particularly important.

Successful university collaboration

One important element of the German-Australian partnership is cooperation between universities. According to the 'Higher Education Compass' published by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), there are currently 597 collaboration agreements in place between German and Australian universities (as of March 2020). Within the Asia-Pacific region, the only countries that have even more cooperation agreements with German universities are China and Japan.

The most important tool in bilateral university collaboration is the exchange of students and scientists, primarily funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The DAAD has been able to extend its exchange programme with the Group of Eight, the eight most important Australian universities. This programme was launched in 2008 and has since then been rolled out toto more than 30 of the 39 Australian universities, thanks to an agreement with 'Universities Australia', the umbrella organisation of Australian universities, which was signed in December 2014. For the funding period 2018/19 more than 200 applications have been submitted, resulting 73 funded projects.

Australian scientists are among the most successful applicants for the programmes of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Himboldt network in Australia comprises ca. 580 alumni.

The Federal Minstry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides funds for exploration and networking activities through its directorate general for intenational cooperation. In 2016, the largest number of applications in response to the call 'Establishment of Joint Research Presences in Asia-Pacific'  targeted Australia. Three projects are currently being funded (until 2022):

  • BM-AXIS – 'Bonn Melbourne Academy for eXcellence in ImmunoSciences/Infectiology' between University of Bonn and University of Melbourne
  • Gabi – 'German-Australian Joint Lab on Health Related Water Microbiology' between DGWV Technology Center Water in Karlsruhe and CSIRO Land & Water Flagship in Brisbane
  • Zenith – 'German-Australian Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage for Renewable Energies' between Fraunhofer ICT (Chemical Technologies) and University of New South Wales in Sydney

Flagship projects funded by the German Research Association (DFG) are the three international research training groups (ITRG) with Australia:

  • 'Molecular Pathogenesis of Male Reproductive Disorders' (2013 – 2022) between the University of Gießen and Monash University
  • 'Myeloid Antigen Presenting Cells and the Induction of Adaptive Immunity' between the University of Bonn and the University of Melbourne (start 2016)
  • 'Overcoming barriers: Molecular Interactions with Malaria' between Humboldt University Berlin and the Australian National University (start 2017)

The role of the International Bureau

In addition to the projects funded within the BMBF's scheme 'Establishing German Research Presences in the Asia-Pacific Region', the International Bureau also supports explorative and networking visits of German University and research organisation representatives to establish collaborations with partners in South East Asia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand ('Travelling Conferences').