| Deadline: 15 September 2023

Anouncement by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) announces guidelines for the funding of “Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions to Problems in Emerging and Developing Countries”. Applications may be submitted by German institutions and companies until 15 September 2010. The target region encompasses the countries of Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus.

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
 
Announcement Relating to the Federal Government Strategy for the Internationalisation of Science and Research

Guidelines for the Funding of “Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions to Problems in Emerging and Developing Countries”
Preparatory and Fact-finding Actions for Partnerships in Science, Research and Education;
Pilot Actions with Countries in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus

Dated 22 June 2023

1 Objectives and legal basis

1.1 Objectives

The Strategy for the Internationalisation of Science and Research forms part of the Federal Government’s response to the challenges of globalisation. One fundamental component of this strategy is to strengthen the cooperation with emerging and developing countries, in this case those in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) and the Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia). Furthermore, the countries of Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus have a central role to play in the solution of global problems because they are themselves seriously affected by these problems and belong to a very geopolitically sensitive region of the world. Global problems such as climate change, water shortages, desertification and infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis) are extremely virulent in both regions. The Federal Government initiated an EU Strategy for Central Asia during Germany's presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2007. This strategy defined for the first time political guidelines for the strengthening of European engagement in Central Asia. The countries of the Southern Caucasus are also gaining strategic political significance for Germany and Europe. The Southern Caucasus is important as more than just a transit region for the future supply of raw materials to Europe. As a result of the expansion of the EU towards the east, the countries of the Southern Caucasus now form a region that is an immediate neighbour of the EU, something that the EU reflected politically in its 2009 Eastern Partnership.

In many cases, the partner countries in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus posses their own established, although largely under-funded, research and education systems, as well as having their own scientific traditions in specific subject areas. The goal of the Internationalisation Strategy, namely to develop future growth markets for German science and industry through early establishment of research and technology partnerships, is therefore particularly relevant in the case of the economically dynamic regions formed by the countries of Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. This enables Germany to position itself as a partner to future new centres of science and industry and through these partnerships to make a contribution to regional solutions to problems of global significance.

The need for and importance of these actions arises from the ever increasing complexity of the policy issues associated with the Millennium Development Goals, such as universal education and ending poverty, and with current global challenges such as dealing with the consequences of climate change, providing sustainable energy and water supplies, using resources in a sustainable fashion and ensuring world health. In addressing these issues, the focus should be on a collaborative approach to developing integrative solutions that encompass the principle that all partners must also take individual responsibility. It is only through such an approach that the outcomes of research have a chance of being implemented in a sustainable manner in the target country.

The primary purpose of the funding program should be to serve as a stimulus for academic and non-academic research institutions in Germany to develop new cooperative ventures with partners from emerging and developing countries (in this case Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus). These ventures should be built around the key strengths of the institutions in terms of research focus and problem solving expertise and be able to make a significant contribution to expanding the scope of Germany’s development-related research and extending its research network. At the same time, these partnerships should contribute to expanding the capacity of the foreign partner to conduct research. The goal is to make it possible for qualified (young) scientists to forge a research career in their homeland by providing training programs for young researchers, making contributions to improving the way research is managed, and through specific measures for developing the research infrastructure. In addition to this, improvements should be made in terms of the degree to which partners in the target country are involved in international consortia that have German participation. Particular attention should be given to support for networking with researchers from other countries (e.g. through trilateral co-operations with other industrialised and emerging market countries).

New knowledge-based partnerships for education, science and research should contribute to the implementation of national and regional development strategies and the German Internationalisation Strategy, focussing particularly on the following fields of research:

  • Water resource management
  • Climate research
  • Energy efficiency
  • Land usage, agricultural and food research, desertification
  • Biodiversity
  • Natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, landslides, etc.)
  • Health research (particularly infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis)
  • Social sciences: including, but not limited to, Islamic studies, regional integration research and accompanying socio-economic research relating to the implementation of solutions to problems.

Interdisciplinary approaches to research are particularly encouraged. Because basic research creates the necessary conditions for knowledge-driven solutions to problems, funding is also available for projects that aim to expand the capacity for basic research in the target country and that dovetail appropriately with the application-oriented research fields specified above.

Particular consideration will be given to joint projects that foster collaboration between the various types of organisations involved in development-related research in Germany (particularly higher-education institutions, research institutions, foundations and commercial organisations).

The medium-term goal is to establish the basis for larger cooperative ventures involving the participation of several German and regional partners.

1.2 Legal basis
Projects can be supported with grants awarded in the form of funding contracts subject to civil law in accordance with the terms of this announcement, the BMBF's standard terms and conditions for grants on expenditure or cost basis and the administrative regulations specified by §§23, 44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO). Applicants have no legal claim to a grant. The grant-awarding agency will make their decision after due assessment of the circumstances within the scope of the budget funds available.

2 Object of funding

Funding will be provided to actions that have the aim of creating concepts for and planning projects that fulfil the objectives specified above and to actions that have the aim of expanding the capacity of the foreign partners to conduct research in areas related to the corresponding national or regional development strategies. This includes:

  • Preparatory and fact-finding actions of up to 4 months duration, including meetings between experts and thematic workshops aimed at developing concepts for cooperation, joint research applications or expert networks, or
  • Short-term feasibility studies and partnership pilot projects of up to 24 months duration, including preliminary actions for expansion of capacity (participation of foreign researchers in training programs in Germany and/or further education for research managers, targeted equipment grants for foreign partners).

3 Grant recipients

Applications relating to proposed collaborations with partner institutions in countries in the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia will be accepted from German academic and non-academic research institutions, hospitals with an active research program and commercial organisations. Applications that include the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)1 based in Germany are expressly invited.

Research institutions receiving joint basic funding from the German Federal Government and the German Federal States can only be awarded project funding to cover their additional expenditure in addition to their basic funding under certain conditions.

4 Funding prerequisites

Funds will be allocated through the project funding system in the form of non-repayable grants
The assessment basis for grants awarded to commercial organisations is the project-related costs that are eligible for funding, which can generally be part-financed by up to 50%, depending on the relevance of the project. According to BMBF policy, commercial organisations must make an appropriate contribution from their own funds, which will always be at least 50% of the costs that are eligible for funding.

The basis for calculating the grants for higher education institutions, research/scientific institutions and similar institutions is the eligible project-related expenditure (or, in the case of the Helmholtz centres and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG) the eligible project-related costs), which can be funded up to a maximum of 100% on an individual basis.
In each case, the European Commission's Community Framework for State Aid for Research and Development must be taken into account when fixing the rate of funding. The Community Framework allows for differentiated rules on extra percentage points for collaborative projects proposed by applicants from the new German Länder and for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may result in a higher rate of funding.

When preparing the planned project, applicants should familiarise themselves with the development policy strategies of the target regions and the corresponding EU partnership concepts and with the BMBF funding programs and the corresponding initiatives in the European funding programs, including, but not limited to, the EU Framework Programme, the Neighbourhood Policy instruments and the development policy instruments. Checks to made by applicants should include whether the planned project includes specific European components that make it eligible for exclusive EU funding. Furthermore, applicants should examine whether an additional application for supplementary funding can be submitted to the EU for the proposed national project. The results of these checks should be described briefly in the application for national funding. It is recommended that applicants contact the following organisations prior to preparing their application: the International Bureau (IB) at the BMBF; the Federal Funding Advisory Service; and the National Contact Points for the European Framework Programme. In addition to the German applicant/joint applicants, at least one, but preferably several, other research institutions from Central Asia or the Southern Caucasus must be involved in the project. The involvement of additional European partners (not claiming BMBF funding) is expressly welcomed.
Legally binding agreements must be made between the project partners (cooperation agreements). The partners must also agree upon suitable measures to protect intellectual property in accordance with the laws of the participating countries.

Training programs for young researchers must form an integral part of applications relating to feasibility studies and pilot projects.

The BMBF works on the assumption that foreign partners will contribute towards the funding of the project. The application must demonstrate that the both the German and foreign partners will make a significant contribution from their own resources (e.g. personnel resources, provision of infrastructure, etc.).
International research institutions with sites in the relevant countries may be incorporated into the project as additional partners (without funding).

A status seminar will be held once per year to evaluate the actions that have been funded; participation is a prerequisite of receiving funding.

a) Preparatory and fact-finding actions for new partnerships will be funded for a period of up to 4 months:

Travel for German experts to the partner countries, including living expenses (up to 4 weeks)

  • Flight tickets: Economy class from place of departure to location of partner
  • Daily rate, depending on country

Foreign project researchers who travel to Germany receive:

  • Daily allowance (up to 4 weeks): The stay in Germany will be subsidised with a fixed allowance of €104/day or €2,300/month. This allowance includes amounts to cover the cost of contributions to health insurance and any other applicable insurance; premiums must be paid by the grant recipient themselves.
  • Event costs for workshops in Germany or partner countries to the extent necessary. Costs eligible for subsidy include, for example: accommodation for foreign guests, transfers within Germany, preparation of course material, hospitality, rental of premises. The amount of the subsidy is dependent on the scope of the event and the number of foreign guests. A daily rate will not be paid in these cases.
  • Personnel costs incurred by the German partner for the preparation of concepts for cooperation and applications for German and European funding programs (up to 3 months).
  • For joint applications: Event costs and personnel costs for developing links between the participating German institutions.

Except in the case of justifiable exceptions, the total grant applied for per project shall not exceed €50,000.

b) Feasibility studies and partnership pilot projects will be subsidised for a period of up to 24 months for German and foreign partners:

  • Travel costs (as per Section ‘a’ above)
  • Travel costs (as per Section ‘a’ above)
  • Costs for training programs in Germany for young researchers and additionally for research managers for the German partners.
  • Personnel costs
  • Other costs (material resources and consumables) that go beyond the scope of the basic equipment available at the research institutions and that are necessary for joint research and development actions or feasibility studies.
  • For joint applications: Event costs and personnel costs for developing links between the participating German institutions.

Also for the foreign partner:

  • Grants for acquiring project-related assets (e.g. equipment, material resources and consumables) up to €30,000.

Except in the case of justifiable exceptions, the total grant applied for per project shall not exceed €150,000.
The following are explicitly excluded from eligibility for funding or subsidy:

  • Expenses for items such as office materials and communications.
  •  Common basic facilities such as laboratory or IT equipment (see Section ‘b’ for exceptions).

5 Procedure

5.1 Involvement of the International Bureau (IB) and requests for documentation

The funding program will be managed on behalf of the BMBF by:
International Bureau of the BMBF in the Project Management Agency of the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Heinrich-Konen-Str. 1
53227 Bonn, Germany
Internet: http://www.internationales-buero.de/en

Contact person at International Bureau for technical enquiries:
Dr. Anja Köhler
E-mail: anja.koehler@dlr.de
Phone: +49 (0)228 3821 458

Contact person at International Bureau for administrative enquiries:
Holger Brehm
E-mail: holger.brehm@dlr.de
Phone: +49 (0)228 3821 472
5.2 Submission of formal applications and decision-making procedures

Completed applications must be submitted no later than 15 September 2010.
The funding process has a single phase. The electronic web-based application (ewa) system provided by the IB must be used for the creation of formal applications; please use the following Internet address:
http://www.ewa.internationales-buero.de/?project_cat=WTZUA

The project description must be attached to the electronic application form in PDF format and should follow the structure outlined below:

a) Preparatory and fact-finding actions

  • Cover sheet with project title in German and English
  • Abstract in German and English
  • Classification of the planned project in the context of scientific research and of development policy
  • Description of the planned project 
    • Description of the scientific research objectives
    • Explanation of the relevance of the project to the German cooperation strategies, the national development goals of the target countries, regional and/or multilateral (EU, UN, World Bank, etc.) development strategies, and programs to which an application for project funding would be submitted based on the outcomes of the preparatory and fact-finding actions (esp. BMBF, EU, DFG)
    • Added value to be expected as a result of collaboration between the partners
    • Expected results and applicability/usefulness of the project outcomes, particularly in terms of development policy issues
  • Project partner(s) 
    • Composition of the proposed consortium
    • Qualifications and experience of the project partners
    • Most important relevant publications/patents
    • Previous collaborations (as applicable)
    • Work plan for preparatory and fact-finding actions
    • Schedule and milestones
    • Structured financing plan (overview only, detailed list to be entered in electronic application form)
    • CVs of project leaders

The project description should not exceed 10 DIN A4 pages, not including list of publications and CVs.

b) Feasibility studies and pilot actions

  • Cover sheet with project title in German and English
  • Abstract in German and English
  • Classification of the project in the contexts of scientific research and development policy
  • Description of the project methodology 
    • Description of the scientific research objectives, (relevance of the project in terms of the national (BMBF) funding program or EU programs)
    • Strategic development objectives in the national, regional and global contexts
    • Type and scope of planned collaboration
    • Added value from collaboration between the partners
    •  Work to be carried out
    • Expected results and applicability/usefulness of the project outcomes, particularly in terms of development policy issues
  • Detailed description of the planned training program
  • Project partner(s) 
    • Composition of the consortium
    • Qualifications and experience of the project partners
    • Most important relevant publications/patents
    • Previous collaborations
  • Tasks to be completed 
    • Schedule and milestones
    • Distribution of work between the partners
  • Dissemination of results and sustainability of outcomes, particularly with reference to development-related issues
  • Structured financing plan (overview only, detailed list to be entered in electronic application form)
  • CVs of project leaders
  • Copies of the three most important publications relating to the theme of the project by each of the project leaders.

The project description should not exceed 20 DIN A4 pages, not including list of publications and CVs.

In addition to the electronic application, a copy of the final version of the application (as finalised in the electronically submitted application) must be signed by the German and foreign project leaders (principle investigators) and submitted by post no later than 15 September 2023 (date of receipt) to the following address (please note the submission deadline):

International Bureau of the BMBF in the Project Management Agency of the DLR
Holger Brehm
Heinrich-Konen-Str. 1
53227 Bonn, Germany
E-mail: holger.brehm@dlr.de

For technical questions relating to the Internet-based application, please contact:

Martina Lauterbach
German Aerospace Center
International Bureau of the BMBF
Heinrich-Konen-Str. 1
53227 Bonn, Germany
E-mail: martina.lauterbach@dlr.de
Phone: +44 (0)228 3821 734

No applications will be accepted after the submission deadline. Delayed submissions will not normally be considered.

All accepted applications will be evaluated by a panel, which will include external experts, on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Application meets the funding prerequisites specified
  • Alignment to the main aims of the German cooperation strategies and national, regional and multilateral development strategies (application must explain the relationships)
  • Contribution to ecologically sound, socially compatible, scientifically acceptable concepts (“sustainability”)
  • Stimulation of new partnerships – common interests and benefits for the project partners
  • Quality of the links between German participants (for collaborative projects)
  • Contribution to a strong national/regional presence in the target regions (i.e. collaborative approach between partners)
  • Innovative content and relevance in practice (applicability of the expected outcomes to the implementation of national/regional development strategies) – realistic utilisation plan
  • Contributions to establishing/extending regional or multilateral networks and coordination of actions
  • Support for young researchers and equal opportunities
  • Expertise and excellence of applicant and all participating partners
  • Chances of success of fact-finding actions (if applicable)

The evaluations will form the basis of the funding decisions following final checks on the applications. All applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the selection process.

The IB will enter into a funding contract subject to civil law with those applicants who are selected to receive funding.
Matters relating to the approval, payment and accounting of grants, as well as to proof and examination of proper use and, if necessary, revocation of the award and reclamation of the funds awarded, shall be governed by the administrative regulations pertaining to §44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO).

6 Legal validity

These funding guidelines shall enter into force on the day of their publication in the Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger).

22 June 2010, Bonn
Federal Ministry of
Education and Research
By order

Michael S c h l i c h t


1 according to the EU-definition of SMEs, see:
  http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/sme_definition/sme_user_guide_en.pdf