German institutes await Ukrainian scientists. What door to knock on

Німецькі інститути чекають на українських учених. Куди стукати

Innovation House has enquired about what organizations in Germany give grants and scholarships to Ukrainian scientists.

When the state does not allocate enough money for the science, the scientists are forced to be in search of the funding by themselves. On frequent occasions, this is done outside the territory of Ukraine.

Only 2% of scientists living in Ukraine may boast that their activities are funded in full measure. These were the results of the study, conducted by the Sociological Group Rating on the request of Innovation House. The best situation may be seen in Kyiv city and for the scientists having 20 years of experience. Researches of young scientists and of those, who live in non-metropolitan areas, are the worst-funded.

In addition to the above, this is not to say that scientists knock on all the doors. The same study has showed that only one third of the respondents applied for the grants, turned to business or in any manner whatsoever tried to raise money for their developments. “There is a huge level of distrust in international corporations, in grants. Scientists did not even try to apply for them. They no longer believe in success,” – Oleksii Antypovych, Director of Sociological Group Rating, said.

Meanwhile, European organizations are offering many programs and scholarships that may be awarded to Ukrainians.

Germany is one of the most active European countries as to the support of international collaborations.

Dr. Oksana Seumenicht, Managing Director at the German-Ukrainian Academic Society, attendee of the German-Ukrainian Forum of Young Researchers, brought some light on how the German science funding system works, and what opportunities does it offer to Ukrainian scientists.

German science in figures

According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, total R&D investments in the country reached EUR 83,9 bn. in 2014. The major part of this money (69%) was concentrated in business enterprise sector, 17% of investments ‒ in high education sector and 15% ‒ in government sector.

The country has more than 1,000 of public & publicly-funded research institutions.

Among them ‒ 400 higher education institutions, 250 institutes and centers within four non-university research organizations, 40 federal research institutes (e.g. Robert Koch Institute). Another 130 R&D institutes are funded by the federal states and municipalities.

605 thous. employees are dealing with R&D, inclusive of 361 thous. researchers.

The system of academic science in Germany consists of 110 classical universities and 230 universities of applied sciences ‒ mainly technical universities, focused on the occupational education. The strongest of them are the Technical University of Berlin, the Dresden University of Technology, the Technical University of Munich, the University of Stuttgart, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

2,7 mln. students study in Germany, inclusive of 320 thous. international students (that is 12% of all the student community). There are more than 7 thous. Ukrainians there, which is about 2% of all foreign students in Germany.

Key funding sources

General educational policy is being shaped by The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Furthermore, it pours cash into the institutes and targeted strategic initiatives, supports international collaboration. It will hardly ever support Ukrainian scientists. After all, unpublicized rule exists: national funding shall remain within the country. “It is hard to explain to the taxpayers, why they shall spend their money to support researches, conducted somewhere in Ukraine,” ‒ Dr. Oksana Seumenicht explained.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) cooperates with the State Fund for Fundamental Research of Ukraine (SFFRU). DFG is the national research funding agency, it gives grants to support cooperation with countries with developing economy, for the search for joint projects (the grant covers transportation expenses and search seminars). It promotes the development of international networks of new researches.

In this December, DFG was considering the project proposals in the fields of physics and mathematics as a part of German-Ukrainian cooperation.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) gives scholarships and grants to support internationalisation of German universities.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation offers individual scholarships and prizes for PhD-level scientists, renders strong support of the alumni network.

Scientific researches are also funded by the private German groups of companies, each of which has its own foundation. These are Volkswagen Stiftung, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Landesstiftung Baden-Wurttemberg, Bertelsmann-Stiftung, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, BI Fonds, etc. “This is what is called industrial funding. That is R&D, which is funded by the companies, and each of these companies has its own conditions,” ‒ Dr. Oksana Seumenicht said.

Science outside the universities

Several large research organizations having solid material resources and own partnership programs for the scientists from other countries may be found outside the German universities.

This refers to The Helmholtz Association (HGF), for instance. It consists of 18 centers dealing with basic researches in six strategic directions in the field of science and technologies, namely energy, earth, environment, health, aeronautics, space and transport, matter, key technologies (future, information). The organization’s budget is EUR 4,3 bn. Total staffing is 34,4 thous. (in full time equivalent, FTE).

The Helmholtz Association has its own research infrastructure and large-scale equipment located both in Germany and abroad. It participates in projects on creation of European x-ray free electron laser (XFEL), new FAIR accelerator facility, International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), cooperates with the Neumayer III German Antarctic research station. It is also focused on data science.

Own research funding programs are implemented as a part of the Initiative and Networking Fund (e.g. International Laboratories program).

Yet another major organization is The Max Planck Society (MPG). It consists of 84 institutes and research facilities, where 15,5 thous. persons are employed (FTE). They are dealing with basic researches in the field of science and humanities. The organization’s budget is EUR 1,87 bn.

The Max Planck Society has strong Ukrainian community. Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen ‒ biochemist from Ukraine, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize winner Marina Rodnina. Halyna Shcherbata, Ukrainian geneticist is the head of Gene Expression and Signaling Department there. Yury Grin, former resident of Lviv city, is the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Dresden.

The Leibniz Association (WGL) is dealing with the interdisciplinary research in the field of engineering, science & humanities (inclusive of in museums & libraries). It consists of 88 scientific institutions and 14,6 thous. experts (FTE). The organization’s budget is EUR 1,5 bn. It is focused on the cooperation with Central and East European countries. The Association brings together the strongest expertise from this region outside the German universities.

The Leibniz ScienceCampus EEGA (Eastern Europe – Global Area) makes it possible for the institutions to invite for the short-stay researchers from Eastern Europe, inclusive of Ukrainian ones.

The EEGA in Eastern Germany (Leipzig-Halle-Jena) has interdisciplinary research cluster focusing on the research in the social field and in the field of humanities, namely in mobilities and migration regimes in Eastern Europe, self-positioning of Eastern Europe in a new world order in-the-making, business strategies and political economies, cultural and intellectual perspectives and identities of Eastern Europe in times of europeanisation.

The partnership network of this cluster includes 8 institutes: the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IFL), the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), the Institute of Geography (IFG) at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Alexander Brückner Center for Polish Studies (ABZ), University of Leipzig Centre for Area Studies (CAS), the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy (IMW), the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG) is focused on the application-oriented researches in the field of science & humanities. It consists of 69 centers and institutes, where 17,300 persons are employed (FTE). The organization’s budget is EUR 2,1 bn.

Yet another organization that may be of service to Ukrainian scientists is The Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS). The Centre is currently focusing on three areas: “Stability and Change of Political Regimes”, “The Dynamics of Conflict” and “Migration”. According to Dr. Oksana Seumenicht, Germany is offering support to the scientists, who were forced to leave their countries for whatever reason. “Do you know that many refugees have moved to Germany. From Syria, for instance. People from Crimea and Donetsk cannot take advantage of this opportunity. But we have included this program in the presentation for the scientists to know, who is working with refugees and who may potentially accept them,” – she said.

Post-doc fellowship schemes: short-term and long-term

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) has both short-term and long-term post-doc fellowships. The EMBO unites 1,700 leading researchers, who facilitate the development of life sciences. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help build a European research environment where scientists can achieve their best work.

Yet another organization having post-doc fellowships – the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS). It offers various types of fellowships for pre-doc bioscientists.

The British publishing organization The Company of Biologists that unites such journals as Development, Journal of Cell Science, Journal of Experimental Biology, Disease Models & Mechanisms and Biology Open, is offering fellowships to graduate students and post-doc researchers for the trips abroad. What is meant here is travelling fellowships of up to £2,500 to graduate students and post-doc researchers wishing to make collaborative visits to other laboratories. The citizens of all countries or regions of the world subject to sanctions, embargoes or other political trade restrictions put in place by the United Nations, the EU or the UK, are unable to participate in the program.

The foundation of the German pharmaceutical company The Boehringer Ingelheim awards grants to junior researchers, who are conducting experimental projects in basic biomedical research.

Biomedical innovations are also supported by the charitable foundation Stiftung Charité. It facilitates the transfer of developments from laboratories to clinics, and also has short-term post-doc programs.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is awarding both long-term (1-year) and short-term (6-months) grants. The DAAD has also its separate program with the Leibniz Association. It annually awards 15 international fellowships for post-docs, who may conduct their researches in one of the Leibnitz Institutes of their choice. The deadline for applications submission for the next year is March 2018.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) also has scholarships for the scientists for the period of six months and two years. You may apply for its Emmy Noether post-doc program within four years upon the receipt of PhD degree (within six years if you are the medical worker).

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is offering Georg Forster Research Fellowship program for the period of up two years and scholarships for the skilful researchers for the period of 6 to 18 months.

The Gerda Henkel Foundation is granting scientific scholarships in the field of history and humanities.

The Volkswagen Foundation has “Freigeist” Fellowships program. Prerequisites are as follows: PhD degree no longer than four years prior to submission, linked to research institution in Germany, completed change of academic environment and research sojourn abroad. The program provides for the research funding of up to EUR 1 mln. for the period of five years (in some cases this period may be extended for another three years).

Ukrainian scientists may also take advantage of post-doc fellowship programs, initiated by Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP). Frontier research in the life sciences are funded under this program. The site for the 2018 fellowship applications is already closed. The next fellowship deadline will be in August or September 2018.