Czech Republic

Like Germany, the Czech Republic can look back on a tradition of science dating back 600 years. Economically, both countries rely on the manufacturing industries, in particular machine and automotive construction. The Czech Republic has made tremendous efforts in recent years to foster research and innovation. The European research area benefits from both countries’ strength in science and economics.

View of Prague © Daniel Geyer / DLR

© Daniel Geyer / DLR

Funding the cooperation

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the cooperation of German institutions with Czech partners through a variety of funding announcements.

Please get in touch, if you have questions about the support services provided by the International Bureau.

Political framework

Czech-German research cooperation has a long tradition. It is based on the Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation of 2 November 1990, originally concluded between the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic.

The current cooperation framework is based on the 'Strategic Dialogue between Germany and the Czech Republic' signed in July 2015. Concrete starting points for cooperation in research and development are:

  • implementation of a bilateral R&D conference series
  • exchange of experience on R&D between government agencies of both countries
  • enhanced participation of Czech institutions in BMBF funding instruments

In February 2019, the Czech government adopted a new innovation strategy, which is to be applied or implemented by 2030. According to its innovation strategy 'The Country for the Future', the Czech Republic aims to become one of Europe's leading innovators in 2030. Thus, an R&D quota on GDP of 3.0% is to be reached by 2030. Thanks to a combination of industrial traditions, research background and entrepreneurial skills, the Czech Republic is well equipped to achieve this goal.

The strategy comprises nine thematic pillars, including:

  • R&D - financing and evaluation of research and development
  • technology - polytechnic education
  • start-ups - national start-up and spin-off development
  • digitisation - digital state, digital production and services
  • excellence - innovation and research centres

Each of these pillars outlines the initial situation, individual goals and ways or tools to achieve these goals.

Cooperation Priorities

In 2013 and 2015, the BMBF published an 'Ideas competition for the development and expansion of innovative R&D networks with partners in Danube riparian states' ('Danube Region Call'). One third of the funded projects were jointly carried out with Czech partners. The main focus of the cooperation is on environmental and production technologies as well as health research.

German actors have been strongly represented in previous Horizon 2020 projects with Czech participation, at around 70%, which is at a consistently high level, just as under FP7. Germany is clearly the most important partner country for Czech participation in Horizon 2020, ahead of France and Italy. The thematic focus of the joint projects is transport, followed by energy and ICT.

Highlights of bilateral cooperation

In 2015, the BMBF and the Czech Ministry of Education and Research (MŠMT) launched a German-Czech conference series to network with the Czech Centers of Excellence and integrate them into the framework of the Strategic Dialogue. The launch event in Prague in February 2015 addressed the topics of material physics, information / communication technologies, and environmental research. In January 2017, the second conference on energy storage and supply took place in Erlangen, again attended by about 100 experts from science, research and industry from both countries. In May 2019, the series was continued in Brno addressing the research fields of nanotechnologies, new materials and mobility 4.0. A further conference will take place again in Germany, probably at end of 2020 or beginning of 2021.

In addition to the Strategic Dialogue, in October 2015, the BMBF and the Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry (MPO) agreed to step up cooperation on research, development and innovation in the area of Industry 4.0. Following initial bilateral workshops in April and October 2016, a first bilateral call for proposals was issued by the BMBF and the technology agency TA CR between February and May 2017. A total of 9 projects have been selected for funding since January 2018. A second round of the call followed in July and August 2018.

Special facilities

EU funding between 2007-2014 has enabled the creation of a modern Czech research infrastructure. With the help of EU structural funds, eight European centers of excellence and 40 regional research centers in the Czech Republic were established or expanded. The centres of excellence, mostly located in the neighborhood of and sponsored by university and / or academy institutes, are active in the fields of laser physics, mainframe systems, nanotechnologies and health.

The most important facilities is 'ELI Beamline', the Czech Republic's part of the 'Extreme Light Infrastructure', the first and so far only European research infrastructure facility, which has been established and is run exclusively by the Eastern Partnership countries. Outside of Prague, CEITEC is home to the Nanotechnology and Environmental Centre in Brno, while in Ostrava IT4Innovations is the central mainframe facility for the Czech research landscape.

Cooperation within the EU

The Czech Republic participated in 3 of the 31 selected projects in the first phase of the EU Teaming Programme. The nanotechnology project NANOMATCON of the Technical University of Liberec was carried out with German participation (Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ICS, Würzburg and International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW, Leipzig). In the second phase, the Czech Republic is represented in 1 out of 10 projects. The laser technology project 'HILASE CoE' is coordinated by the Physics Institute of the Academy of Sciences.