For years now, Japan has held the top rank internationally regarding R&D expenditure. Japanese and German citizens research together in many areas based on the STC agreement signed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Japanese partner ministry in 1974 - priorities are marine research and technology, life sciences and the environment.

Fuji with factory

© Torsakarin / iStock / Thinkstock

Funding opportunities

There are no current funding announcements for the cooperation with Japan.

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BMBF to fund three research projects coordinated by Germany and Japan within the framework of the “German – Japanese Academia-Industry International Collaboration Program on Optics and Photonics (2+2)”

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMBF) will fund three collaborative research projects in cooperation with the JST on the topic of “Optics and Photonics”.

The selected projects are as follows:

  • “Efficient Silicon Photonic Devices Using Advanced Electro-Optic Polymers”
    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Vanguard Automation GmbH, Kyushu University, Nissan Chemical Industries, Ltd.
  • “Real-Time Fusion of Projection and Sensing by High-Speed Multispectral Units for Dynamic Interaction”
    Fraunhofer Institute, ViALUX GmbH, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo Electron Device LTD.
  • “Development of Hyper-Resolution X-Ray Phase Imaging”
    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT), microworks GmbH, Tohoku University, Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.

A total of 35 proposals were submitted in response to the joint call for proposals implemented by BMBF and JST. Based on the results of evaluation conducted by experts, JST and BMBF including the program officer and advisors jointly decided on the three projects for funding. Support to the projects will continue for about three years (2018-2020).

Political framework

The bilateral research cooperation between Japan and Germany is based on an intergovernmental agreement relating to the scientific and technological cooperation dated 8 October 1974 (BGBl. 1974 II 1326). The stated priorities of the bilateral cooperation according to the STC agreement are:

  • Marine research and technology,
  • Life sciences (biological and medical research and technology),
  • Environment (exploration and development of new environmental conservation technologies).

The BMBF cooperates with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the current minister Hiroshi HASE and the new state Minister for Science & Technology Policy, Aiko SHIMAJIRI. MEXT is subordinate to the funding organisation Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), which is responsible for most scientific and technological areas and practical cooperation.

STC committee meetings take place at regular intervals and are attended by representatives of the two ministries and by research and funding organisations and agencies. The 21st meeting of the German-Japanese committee was held in Tokyo on 12 March 2013. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Germany in the fourth quarter 2016.

Not only the ministries of the two nations cooperate based on the STC agreement. German research organisations and agencies are also highly active in the cooperation with Japan.

The Fraunhofer Association has since 2001 maintained a Fraunhofer Representative Office Japan to support the establishment of strategic partnerships with excellent research institutions and to promote the exchange of scientists on site.

Since April 2009, the DFG has had an agency office in Tokyo and has worked together closely with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

The German Centre for Aviation and Space Travel (DLR) also sees great potential in cooperation with Japanese research institutions and has maintained a Tokyo office since the end of February 2013.

The Max Planck – The University of Tokyo Center for Integrative Inflammology started work in early 2014. The Centre for Integrative Inflammology is initially designed to remain open for a period of five years and is situated on the campus of Tokyo University. This enables the scientists involved to benefit from the proximity of the University Hospital, with which the centre will cooperate closely.

At a multilateral level, the annual Science and Technology in Society Forum has taken place in Kyoto since 2004. The forum, which is attended by leading scientists, high-ranking political decision-makers and representatives of industry, creates a framework for open discussions relating to progress in science and technology with regard to global challenges. The parliamentary state secretary Rachel participated in the 11th STS Forum in October 2014.

Priorities of the cooperation

Junior Experts Exchange Program

Since 1998, each year between four and eight young German or Japanese scientists from research institutions and company research departments are invited to take part in a ten-day study tour of Japan or Germany as part of the Junior Experts Exchange Programme.

In Germany, the programme was financed by the BMBF and the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (BMWi) until 2011 - since 2012, it is funded exclusively by the BMBF. In Japan, the programme is financed by the Japanese Foreign Office (MOFA).

The objective of the programme is to establish contacts between researchers in the two countries and to support the creation of networks between German and Japanese competence centres. Outstanding young scientists are to be given the opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange in order to intensify the Japanese-German scientific dialogue.

Each year, a new science topic is specific for the exchange programme:

  • 2016 Ageing Society
  • 2015 Renewable energies (energy creation)
  • 2014 Carbon nanotubes (CNT) and graphene
  • 2013 Medical technology (imaging technologies and miniaturised medicine)
  • 2012 Smart grids for renewable energies
  • 2011 Renewable energy
  • 2010 Battery research

Gottfried-Wagener Prize (German Innovation Award)

Launched by the AHK in 2008, the German Innovation Award has been awarded to young Japanese scientists each year since 2010 by twelve technology-oriented German companies and the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Japan (DIHKJ) under the auspices of the German research minister. The aim of the award is to foster long-term networks and partnerships with Japanese research institutions and universities. The German companies are hoping to intensify exchange with Japanese science and to promote a closer collaboration in research and development. Young scientists and engineers are awarded for outstanding performance in application-oriented research.

Prizes are available for application-oriented, innovative ideas and research projects by young Japanese scientists and engineers in the areas of environmental protection, energy, security, health, automobile, materials and production technologies. The applications are assessed by technical experts at the companies involved and by a high-ranking jury of Japanese scientists.

For the first time in 2015, a winner was selected from the areas of mobility, material research, life sciences and energy/industry. Previously five awards had been available, with one being the main award. The research areas involved have also changed slightly. In addition to the prize money (2.5 million yen, which corresponds to approx. EUR 19,000), the four winners this year will be given scholarships by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Research Association (DFG) to research in Germany for one to two months.