Projects of the BMBF Funding Programme to establish joint research centres with partners in the Asia-Pacific Research Area (APRA)

Next to Europe and North America, the Asia-Pacific Research Area (the name is based on the European Research Area, ERA) is the third largest research and education area in the world. In a globalised world, climate protection, health or future energy supply are topics requiring the cooperation of leading decision-makers.

The interdepartmental German High-Tech Strategy, as laid down by the federal government in 2006 and 2010, represents the foundation for the successful promotion of research and development. Furthermore, in 2008 the German federal cabinet adopted a strategy to strengthen the internationalisation of science and research, with an increased presence of German research in significant partner countries. After the USA and alongside the UK and France, Germany is by far the most important cooperation partner of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. APRA is rapidly growing in importance for both Germany and Europe as a whole. In a few years' time its significance will be similar to that of North America. It is therefore incumbent upon German research policy to encourage and benchmark the collaborative relationships with the APRA countries in terms of research and technology development, using relations with the USA as an example.

This is the focus of a special funding programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): 'Conceptual and preparatory measures of German universities to establish joint research presences with partners in the Asia-Pacific region'.

The aim of the funding programme is to establish long-term research presences with top research facilities in the target countries Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea Republic, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The objective is to achieve an improved visibility of German scientific excellence in the partner countries and a joint contribution to boosting the innovation systems both in Germany and the partner countries to their mutual benefit. This will strengthen the internationalisation of research in Germany.

Since 2009, the BMBF has been funding these structural partnerships with 5 call announcements so far. 26 joint research platforms with top institutes in Asia and Oceania were established between 2009 and 2015.

The 5th BMBF funding announcement on the establishment of joint research presences in Asia and Oceania in the fields of health research and medical technology, sustainable cities, renewable energies and energy efficiency, as well as environmental and water technologies met with a great deal of interest among the German scientific community: DLR-PT, the responsible project management organisation, received more than 160 project sketches. From these, 27 projects were selected for funding in a development phase from 2017 to 2019. Following an interim evaluation, 15 projects continue to be funded in a consolidation phase from 2019 to 2022.