Israel

The science cooperation smoothed the path for diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. Today, a unique cooperation structure exists including contributions from foundations and long-term programmes in addition to the ministerial cooperation. Germany is Israel’s most important partner in the EU research programme, of which the country has been a member since 1996.

German and Israel Flag

© Павел Кусмарцев / iStock / Thinkstock

Funding opportunities

The current funding offers for German-Israeli cooperation in research, innovation and education are set out in the section calls of the website cogeril.de. This also provides details of how to obtain further advice.

The priorities of the bilateral cooperation between German and Israeli ministries ranges from the life sciences and environmental sciences to key technologies. The two countries also cooperate in vocational training at department level. In addition, the foundations and major programmes financed by the BMBF - Minerva, German Israeli Foundation, German-Israeli Project Cooperation (DFG) and the foundation fund Martin-Buber Association - also play a significant role in the cooperation.

The agent organisations funded by the BMBF and by other federal ministries (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service) as well as private sponsors such as the Volkswagen Foundation, the Thyssen Foundation and the Krupp Foundation are also involved in funding the cooperation.

50 years of German-Israeli cooperation

The anniversary “50 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel” was also celebrated by the science partners at numerous events and in projects. In February 2015, the then German Federal Minister Johanna Wanka launched the two new Minerva Centres at a high-calibreconference of the Minerva Foundation and awarded the ARCHES prize for young scientists to a German-Israeli research team. The DFG, the German Israeli Foundation, Foundation Fund Martin-Buber-Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Cultural Studies and Social Sciences and several universities and research institutions contributed new cooperation initiatives to the anniversary year.

The annual German-Israeli government consultations took place in February 2016, whose priorities included research and innovation cooperation. State secretary Thomas Rachel and the Director of the Israeli Ministry of Economics Amit Lang agreed a programme to fund applied research and technology transfer in nanotechnology.

Relaunch Cogeril

The International Bureau used the occasion of the Anniversary Year 2015 to relaunch its website cogeril.de, which had been set up during the German-Israeli Year of Science 2008. The website is the first point of contact for researchers in both countries interested in this bilateral cooperation. Documentaries and portraits also provide insights into the daily scientific cooperation and the cultural and political bridges built between Germans and Israelis.

Political framework

In addition to the interministerial research partnership between the BMBF, BMWi, BMU and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry ( MOE), several foundations and funding programmes (Minerva, GIF, DIP, Martin-Buber) constitute the second pillar of the cooperation.

The Minerva-Stiftung Gesellschaft für die Forschung mbH was founded in 1963 and marked the start of the scientific cooperation with Israel. In 1973, the interministerial cooperation with MOST commenced, followed by an agreement with the MoE in 2000. All in all, research institutions in the two countries have so far been funded in almost 700 joint projects as part of the specialised programmes of the BMBF and the partner ministries. The German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) founded in 1986 is another corner stone of the cooperation. The BMBF has funded major transdisciplinary German-Israeli projects in the context of the German-Israeli project cooperation (DIP) since 1997. Since 2008, the DIP is managed by the DFG. The Foundation Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities was established in late 2009.

The BMBF has also supported several multilateral cooperation projects with Israel and its Arabic neighbours, primarily in marine research and environmental and water technologies, in order to promote the peace process in the Middle East.

Priorities of the cooperation

Website of the German-Israeli cooperation

The website Cogeril - “German-Israeli Cooperation” provides information on the history and structure of the German-Israeli science cooperation. This cooperation is unique in that diplomatic relations intensified as a result of the close scientific cooperation.

The website enables scientists from the two countries to find out more about important topics and current funding opportunities. The research landscapes of the two countries are also presented.

Topics and structure of the cooperation

The interministerial cooperation now focuses on scientific and technological fields such as marine and geosciences, biotechnology, environmental research, battery research, cancer research and water technologies. Other long-term priorities of the cooperation relate to optical technologies, information and communications technology, civil security research and neuroscience. For several years now, the funding of German-Israeli scientific and industrial collaborative projects has focused on application-oriented, industry-related research. In 2011, an intergovernmental agreement was signed regarding the bilateral cooperation in industry-led research and development as well as in vocational training and further education.

Minerva finances research centres at Israeli universities and research institutions, offers an extensive scholarship programme for young scientists and funds projects at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS). Since the German-Israeli Year of Science 2008, the Minerva Foundation has also awarded the ARCHES prize to two German-Israeli teams of young scientists each year for joint research projects. The 2016 award was dedicated to “Chemistry, Physics, Technology and Mathematics”. In 2017, ARCHES focused on scientific research in the field of Humanities, Cultural Sciences, Sociology, Political Sciences, Economics and Law.

GIF funds high-level research in scientific disciplines with changing priorities each year. In addition, a special programme for young scientists (the Young Scientists Programme, YSP) was launched in 2000.

Israeli universities and the Weizmann Institute can submit suggestions for projects involving German research partners in the context of the DIP excellence programme. The programme is open to all areas with a focus on natural and life sciences.

The Foundation Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Cultural Studies and Social Sciences has the objective of strengthening interdisciplinary cooperation in these areas. Ten new scholarships for joint research at the Hebrew University Jerusalem are awarded each year. Several Minerva centres are dedicated to the humanities and social sciences. As part of the bilateral cooperation, Israel is an important partner in the Käte-Hamburger College and Humanities Centres funded by the BMBF.

Germany and Israel have cooperated in the area of vocational training since 1969. In 2011, the cooperation intensified due to an agreement between the BMBF and the Israeli Ministry of Economics. In 2013, the BMBF commissioned the National Agency of Education for Europe at the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (NA-BIBB) to implement the Israel Programme. The core elements are trainee exchange, expert exchange through mutual study tours, educating joint teams of experts e.g. on solar energy and energy efficiency or vocational training research. E.g. the conference “Knowledge transfer between vocational training and higher education” served the objective of an exchange on specialised topics.

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

Cancer research

This long-term domain of the bilateral cooperation was strengthened further when its funding volume was stocked up in 2015. The 7th “German Israeli Cancer Research School” took place near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in February 2015, whereas in June 2015, a joint call of the German Cancer Research Centre and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology was published. More information.

Water technology

BMBF and MOST have collaborated in this area since 1974. The latest joint call for German-Israeli research projects  in water tecgnology was published in spring 2018.

Battery research

After, in 2012, a cooperation in battery research was agreed in the context of intergovernmental consultations, 50 scientists took part in the first “German Israeli Battery School (GIBS) in Tel Aviv in October 2014. The latest “GIBS” took place in Haifa in September 2017.

The latest joint call within the German-Israeli Battery and Electrochemistry Research Program was open until 1 August 2018.

Cross-sectional priority: Research by young scientists

Many cooperation programmes create the basis for a long-term future cooperation by funding young scientists. The call for applications for funding in water technology runs alongside a Young Scientists Exchange Programme for research visits to the other country. The GIF awards approx. 40 one-year scholarships a year as part of its young scientist programme. The ARCHES prize administered by the Minerva Foundation is aimed specifically at young research group leaders in the two countries. The BMBF offers the winners of the Israeli Young Scientists competition – comparable to the German “Jugend forscht” – a three-week stay at a German university. Potsdam University was the host from 2014-16. In 2017 the Young Scientists participated in the X-LAB at Göttingen university.

European Cooperation

Since 1996, Israel has been an associate partner in the European Framework Programmes (FP). The strong involvement of Israeli researchers in cooperation projects evidences the importance of the European cooperation for the Israeli research system. As part of FP7, Israeli partners were involved in 1621 cooperations. The priorities were ICT, life sciences and nanotechnology. In addition, Israel was strongly committed to setting up research infrastructures as part of FP7. Israeli partners were also involved in European network projects (ERA-NETs, INCO-NETs). At least one German partner was involved in 679 of FP7 projects with Israeli participation. Germany is Israel’s most frequent partner in these cooperation projects.

On 8 June 2014, Israel signed the Association Agreement to Horizon 2020.

Israel is a full member of EUREKA, the European network for industrial market-oriented research. In addition to bilateral agreements, EUREKA offers additional opportunities for technological cooperation between Israeli and German companies and research institutions. Israel participates in approx. one quarter of all current EUREKA projects. Israel is also involved in Eurostars, a programme for SMEs that drive research, which was jointly launched by EUREKA and the European Commission in 2008. In addition, the country is a cooperating partner in the European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST).