The USA is Germany’s most important partner for scientific and technological collaboration. A great variety of joint and supportive research projects exist in nearly all areas. The two countries traditionally maintain an intense exchange of information. Several thousand scientific and study trips to the other country are funded each year.

Washington D.C.

© Johanna Füllmann / DLR

Funding opportunities

In principle, subsidies can be granted as part of the bilateral research and education cooperation between Germany and the USA.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funds cooperation projects in a wide variety of topics.

Political context

Cooperation between Germany and the USA is organised in a decentralised way and carried out independently by research organisations, research institutions or researchers. The intergovernmental agreement on science and technological cooperation (STC) signed in February 2010 provides a general framework for the cooperation. Based on this framework agreement, regular joint committee meetings are scheduled at a ministerial level. Furthermore, over 50 bilateral cooperation agreements between individual institutions form the basis for a tight-knit network of US-German research projects.

The STC agreement between the USA and the European Union concluded in 1998 underlines the European dimension of collaborative research and creates further opportunities for cooperation.

Priorities of the cooperation

SOFIA - Parabel-Flugzeug

© NASA / C. Thomas. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy SOFIA during its first test flight with fully open telescope door on 18 December 2009 on the California's Mojave Desert.

The focal points for the collaboration are spread across the entire range of research areas. Another sign of the close transatlantic cooperation is the joint use of large scientific facilities by the USA and Europe. Examples of this include the involvement of the USA in the German Electron Synchotron (DESY) and the US participation in the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), including the two largest LHC experiments.

The cooperation priorities of Germany and the USA currently focus on the following scientific areas:

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

A highlight of the collaboration with the US are several successfully concluded joint projects in health research.

A German-American funding initiative for the collaboration in computational neurosciences commenced in 2009. The last funding announcement on the topic was published in October 2021. The transnational initiative for research funding between Germany and the USA is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) together with the American funding organisation National Science Foundation (NSF).

Background information on the US research landscape

The responsibilities regarding research, science and education are split between the federal government and the federal states. The education system as a whole, including the universities, is managed by the federal states. Education has been represented by the U.S. Department of Education since 1980, which however only has a very limited sphere of responsibility.

At federal level, science policy and public funding for research and development are handled by a large number of authorities, specialised ministries, agencies and committees. In contrast to Germany, the USA neither have a science / research ministry at federal level nor a joint research budget.

In the US, research and development receive public funding from a broad range of departments and federal agencies.

The Department of State (DOS) does not have a significant R&D budget of its own and also no direct access to the (research) activities of other departments and scientific institutions. However, it plays a role in international cooperation on the level of scientific foreign policy, e.g. via agreements on scientific and technological cooperation (STC).

Cooperation in the context of the EU

An "Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation" between the EU and the US was originally signed in 1998, and extended four times for five years at a time within this framework.

In December 2020, the EU presented a proposal for a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda for global cooperation. The proposal reflects where global leadership is needed and is based on overarching principles. The new agenda covers four areas, identifying first steps for joint action, to serve as a first transatlantic roadmap for addressing key challenges and seizing opportunities.

The EU and the US launched the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) at a summit in Brussels on 15 June 2021. The TTC will serve as a forum for the US and the EU to coordinate approaches to important global trade, economic and technology issues and to deepen transatlantic trade and economic relations based on shared democratic values. A total of ten working groups cover various topics, such as technological standards, climate and environmentally friendly technologies, promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and secure supply chains. In September 2021, the first meeting of the TTC took place in Pittsburgh (USA).

The ENRICH in the USA initiative was launched in April 2017. ENRICH is a European Network of Research and Innovation Centres and Hubs. It is funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020, and provides services to connect European research, technology and business organisations with three world leaders in innovation, namely Brazil, China and the USA. ENRICH in the USA was implemented until the end of 2019 by NearUS, whose aim is to build a network of European research and innovation centres in the United States. The follow-up project, which has been running since early 2021, builds on the 3.5 years of experience and assets generated to make ENRICH in the USA a self-sustaining brand in Europe and the US. The goal is to provide a single gateway through which promising European innovators - researchers and entrepreneurs alike - can access world-class partners in the US and attract high-value customers, channels, investors or suppliers.

The role of the International Bureau

The International Bureau supports a stable international research and education cooperation between Germany and its partners across the globe. It advises German universities, research institutions and companies on international research cooperation and provides financial support to establish new contacts and facilitate cooperation on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The International Bureau also provides adminstrative and scientific support to ongoing research projects. In addition, it supports the BMBF in organising scientific workshops, information events and talks in an international context.