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Scientific infrastructure - Germany
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Bringing Research to Life

By the DAAD

A highly-developed university and research landscape plus innovative companies shape the scientific-research system in Germany. The high quality of academic training "Made in Germany" is recognised worldwide. More than 100 research universities train 70 percent of the students in Germany. With more than 250,000 scientists and investigators working here, Germany is the world's third-largest "country of researchers".

Scientific infrastructure© studiom1 - 123rf.comThe scientific infrastructure of Germany is highly-developed and innovative
The strengths of German research traditionally lie in mechanical engineering, chemistry, medicine, physics and mathematics. Some disciplines of the humanities also play an outstanding role. German scientists and research institutes are world leaders in biomedicine and medical engineering, in environmental research and automotive engineering, and in engineering, in general. But German scientists and researchers also play their part in the world's top groups in the future fields of optical technologies, microsystems engineering, neurosciences, biotechnology and process engineering. In 2003, more than 13,000 German inventions were patented throughout Europe, meaning that almost one quarter of all European patents are based on developments made by German scientists. And Germany actually comes 1st in the field of nanotechnology.

So, research in Germany is particularly attractive for international academics and scientists: guests from many countries carry out research at Germany's universities and scientific institutes. Alone 20,000 foreign researchers are supported by German funding organisations, while a large number of scientists additionally finance their stays in Germany by other means.

From Automobile Nation to High-Tech Centre

Around 10 per cent of all the Nobel Prizes ever awarded went to German scientists. In the past 15 years, the work of eight German researchers has been acknowledged in the form of a Nobel Prize. This places German third, behind the United States and Britain. A total of 27 German researchers have received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 22 in Physics, and 15 in Medicine respectively Physiology.

Germany enjoys a tradition of outstanding research and development. These roots begin with Johannes Gutenberg's book printing via Carl Friedrich Benz's automobile and Einstein's Theory of Relativity through to Karlheinz Brandenburg's MP3 format. Moreover, the invention of the refrigerator, the neon lamp, the tram, the glider or the smartcard all go back to the work of German scientists.

Innovative Force and Strong Trade Marks

The inventions, knowledge and understanding produced by German scientists represent milestones in science and research and form a basis for modern technologies:
- The discovery of x-rays paved the way for the use of computed tomography in medical diagnostics,
- the Braun Tube created the basis for the development of the television,
- the first programmable calculator - Z3 - was the forerunner to the present-day computer, and
- the Haber-Bosch process is still considered today to be the most important and most economical way of producing ammonia. 90% of all fertilisers are made from ammonia.

So, science and research and business and industry go hand-in-hand, and German companies successfully market numerous research findings by German scientists as innovative products. World famous examples include products like Ferrari red, Aspirin, Adidas trainers, polymethyl methacrylate (perhaps better known as Plexiglas, Perspex or Lucite), spark plugs, electric motors and the German car engine. GMR read heads for computer hard disks, liquid crystals for use in LCD technology, dirt-repelling paints with Lotus Effect, MP3 format and language recognition are all products with innovation. Further information on German inventors and inventions is provided by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office.

Leading the Way in Innovative Research Fields

German scientists are not only among the world's best in their traditional core fields: the "automobile nation" has become an attractive location for modern science and research. Because Germany also leads the way in new and forward-looking research fields:

- Environmental Research

- Nanotechnology

- Information and Communications Technology

- Biotechnology

- Optical Technologies

- Microsystems Engineering

Environmental Research provides one of the outstanding examples. German research labs are studying renewable energies - from photovoltaics through to wind energy, from fuel cells to nuclear fusion. This expertise is in demand, all around the world.

Germany has become a world market leader in many areas of Nanotechnology thanks to the wealth of innovations it has produced. German scientists are among the world's leading researchers in "ultra-thin layers", "lateral nanostructures", "ultra-precise processing of surfaces", "nanomaterials" and "nanoanalytics". In terms of nanotechnology patents, Germany is 1st in Europe. And worldwide has only been surpassed by the United States.

Nanoelectronics form an interface between nanotechnology and Information and Communications Technology. The electronics of the future will become ever smaller, ever faster, and ever more efficient, with ever greater performance. For example, one of the most modern semi-conductor technology research centres is currently being built in Dresden, in the direct vicinity of the world's first 300 mm wafer factory. Furthermore, special liquid crystals and the MP3 format have played a decisive role in shaping the development of information and communications technology.

Nowhere else in Europe are as many Biotechnology companies to be found as in Germany. Biotechnological activities range from the production of microbial metabolic products and fine chemicals, via pharmaceutical research to find new and modern effective agents through to all aspects of genome and proteome research.

Germany is a world market leader in many areas of Optical Technologies. In fact, it was only through this field that innovations in areas of German core competence, like mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and electronics, medical engineering, or lighting technology, became possible.

Germany also holds a leading position in the field of Microsystems Engineering and its applications. Microsystems are used in many areas. Not only in electronics-related fields like sensor and communications technology, but also in medial engineering, environmental engineering, and in biology, in automotive engineering, aerospace engineering and automation engineering. Microsystems engineering is continuing to develop and advance quickly and acts as a motor of innovation in practically all fields of industry.

International Researchers in Germany

Germany offers international, highly-qualified scientists and researchers outstanding working conditions in specific fields. Some branches are looking for highly-qualified foreigners who can, under certain condition, immediately receive a residence permit. In this context, highly-qualified means, not least, academics, scientists and researchers with particular subject or specialist knowledge plus academic and research staff in key positions. In the field of research and development, in particular, the proportion of foreign staff is already very high at 8 to 10 percent. After graduating, foreign students can remain in Germany for up to one year to look for a job. Many opportunities are also open abroad for staff who gained experience in Germany. Numerous German companies maintain branches and subsidiaries all around the world.

Private Sector Research and Applied Research and Development

German companies are among the most innovative in Europe. At 66 percent, the proportion of industry-based and financed investments in research and development is particularly high. Environmental research is an example of successful technology transfer, as proven by the growing markets for renewable energies, from photovoltaics all the way through to wind energy. Companies cooperate particularly closely in the field of applied research, working together with globally operating Fraunhofer Institutes and the German Federation of Industrial Cooperative Research Association "Otto von Guericke" (AiF).