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, South 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 sixth call announcements so far. 26 joint research platforms with top institutes in Asia and Oceania were established between 2009 and 2015.

Fifteen projects under the 5th BMBF funding announcement (2016) 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 are currently running in its consolidation phase until 2023. Partner countries are India, China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.

The 6th announcement in this funding scheme (2020) was addressing the establishment of joint research presences in the field of green hydrogen technologies. Out of 25 proposals, seven projects will be funded until 2026 and 2027, respectively. The projects started between 1 July 2021 and 1 February 2022. An evaluation of the projects is set down at the end of the 3-years build-up phase; successful projects will be funded for a consolidation phase lasting another two years. Partner countries are Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.