The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is the central, independent research funding organisation in Germany. It serves all branches of science and the humanities by funding research projects at universities and other research institutions. The DFG promotes excellence by selecting the best research projects on a competitive basis. Its mandate also includes encouraging the advancement of early career researchers, promoting gender equality in the German scientific and academic communities, providing scientific policy advice, and fostering relations with the private sector and between researchers at home and abroad. The DFG is an association under private law. Its member organisations include research universities, non-university research institutions, such as the Max Planck Society, Fraunhofer, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association, the academies of sciences and humanities, and a number of scientific associations. The DFG has an annual budget of over €2 billion, provided primarily by the German federal government (67 percent) and the states (33 percent), but also including EU funds and private donations.
In 2014, the DFG funded nearly 30,000 new and ongoing projects with a funding volume of €2.7 billion. Approximately 30 percent of this funding was allocated to the individual grants programs. In addition to the traditional research grants to finance personnel, equipment, consumables and travel, this funding also includes early career grant programs – such as the Emmy Noether Program and research fellowships. With its coordinated programs – Research Centres, Research Units, Priority Programs, Collaborative Research Centres and Research Training Groups – the DFG supports the formation and development of national and international research cooperation as well as the establishment and development of local structures. In 2014, a total of 822 research collaborations were funded with a sum of €1.1 billion. This equates to a share of 42 percent. Together with the Excellence Initiative, infrastructure funding, international program funding, as well as the scientific prizes awarded by the DFG, the funding volume was approximately €97 million higher than in 2013.
The DFG is open to all branches of science and the humanities. The distribution of DFG funding among the scientific disciplines has been stable over the years. In 2014, the greatest share of funding was allocated to the life sciences, at just under 39 percent. Among the 14 research areas, almost a quarter of the funding, totalling €476 million, was awarded in the field of medicine. This was followed by the fields of biology, humanities and physics.