Mexico offers enormous potential for cooperation and has a special position among Germany's partners in Latin America. This is due both to Mexico’s regional importance and economic power and to the traditionally close cultural and economic ties between the two countries. Mexico is aiming to be ranked among the top 20 per cent of the world's most competitive countries by 2030.

Archaeological site

Human skeleton from the cave of Chan Hol (at least 10,000 years old) © Wolfgang Stinnesbeck/University Heidelberg

Funding opportunities for Mexico

Within the framework of the bilateral cooperation in research and education, the exchange of scientists in collaborative projects between Germany and Mexico will be supported by various funding instruments.

The call "Richtlinie zur Förderung von Antragstellungen im Rahmen des EU-Rahmenprogramms für Forschung und Innovation Horizont 2020 mit Partnern aus Nord- und Südamerika" (German Text only) will be open until 21 December 2018.

Further information about the Science and Technology Cooperation (STC) between Germany and Mexico is available here.

Political framework

Mexico is one of the BMBF’s priority countries in Latin America. Germany has maintained a close and successful cooperation in research, science and education for many years now. This cooperation is based on the joint inter-governmental agreement on scientific and technological cooperation (STC) from 1974. The Ministry of the Exterior (SRE) and the “Instituto Mexicano para la Cooperación Internacional” (IMEXCI) founded in 1998 have political responsibility in Mexico.

On behalf of the foreign ministry, the Mexican National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT) is the coordinating and funding authority for the STC. CONACYT is the most important technical partner of the BMBF/International Bureau. The 2002 Science Act turned CONACYT into an independent authority reporting directly to the president.

The projects of the research cooperation are bilaterally financed by the BMBF and the Mexican research council CONACYT. In the joint projects, each side pays for all costs of their scientists.

The objectives of the Mexican research policy are formulated in the Development Plan 2013-2018 and in the Special Programme for Science, Research and Innovation 2014-2018 (PETICI). Amongst other things, innovation in companies is encouraged as well as a stronger role for R&D in the social development of the country. Investments of 1% of GDP are to be achieved by 2018 by strengthening of the state and private expenditure in R&D.

Focus of the German-Mexican cooperation

At the commission meetings, the BMBF together with the Mexican Foreign Ministry (SRE) and the “Instituto Mexicano para la Cooperación Internacional” (IMEXCI) determines the priorities of the cooperation. The STC with Mexico focuses on the fields of environment, climate and sustainability, aerospace technology, life sciences and bioeconomy, and also cooperation in university education and vocational training.

Education and research are to be utilised to an even greater extent for innovation processes. To achieve this goal, SMEs will be more effectively integrated into bilateral R&D collaborations in the future. Since 2013, mobility as well as staff costs are funded for the joint announcements of the BMBF and CONACYT. The fundamental aim is to improve living conditions in the region over the long run and give German businesses better access to new markets.

Vocational training is a crucial issue for both countries: Since mid-2013, the BIBB has been working with CONALEP, its Mexican partner institution, on a project to establish a national vocational training law. The introduction of dual elements in the Mexican training system is another area of the cooperation (vocational areas: industrial mechatronics, IT, catering and tourism). The BMBF and the Mexican education ministry (SEP) signed a joint cooperation agreement on vocational training in 2015.

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

In Mexico, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) closely cooperates with the Mexican authorities and research institutions as well as the European Agency for Space Travel, ESA. Together, they have set up a data reception station in Chetumal on the peninsular of Yucatan. This station can be used to receive and analyse information sent by satellites. As such, it will contribute to environmental protection in Mexico and neighbouring regions. In addition, it makes it possible to take quicker and more targeted action in response to natural disasters such as fires or flooding. In 2014, ownership of the ground reception station was passed to the Mexican Agency for Space Travel, AEM. AEM is now also responsible for operating and using the station, while the DLR continues to support the research activities.

Germany and Mexico are jointly contributing to protecting the climate. They have formed the “German-Mexican Climate Protection Alliance” to support the Mexican government in developing and implementing its climate protection programme.

Diving for science

Giant sloth Giant sloth from El Pit (skeleton at least 10,000 years old)

The German-Mexican research project of the University of Heidelberg focuses on “Prehistoric Finds from the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition Period in the Underwater Caves of the Yucatán Peninsula”. It is hoped that the project, which is funded by the Federal Research Ministry, will lead to new surprising discoveries about the settlement of the American continent. Until now, scientists believed that humans first migrated to North America via the Bering Strait 11,000 years ago and then settled on the continent. New discoveries of fossils from the caves below Yucatán question this hypothesis. The results of the research so far suggest that people already lived in Mexico 13,000 years ago - thousands of years before the high culture of the Mayas. It is not yet clear where these settlers came from.

The scientific work and finds will be prepared for the public as quickly as possible and exhibited in museums. Exhibitions are already planned at the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe (SMNK) and at Mexico’s largest natural history museum, MUDE, in Saltillo.

Studying without borders

In 2014, the German Higher Education Consortium for International Cooperation and Monterrey Technical University signed an agreement. The 26 German universities and the largest Technical University in Mexico want to set up joint degrees. The degree will enable students from the two countries to acquire a German and a Mexican university degree at the same time. The degrees are planned for machine engineering, electrical engineering, vehicle technology, mechatronics and industrial engineering. Industrial companies will also become involved in order to ensure that students receive a practical education. The Federal Ministry of Research supports these activities.

Funding the cooperation with Mexico

To support networking, International Bureau publishes funding notices every year with the Mexican partner, CONACYT. Funding allows research groups from Germany and Mexico to collaborate on joint projects and to implement research phases in each other's countries. What is more, additional research projects are supported by the BMBF specialist programmes, and the DAAD and DFG also have specific funding programmes with Mexican partners.

The role of the International Bureau

The bilateral cooperation between the governments and the research and development institutions in Germany are also supported by the International Bureau (IB).