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Research Areas

Germany is a land of ideas and a hub for cutting-edge research. One of the most innovative countries worldwide, Germany is internationally renowned for research institutions, such as the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the  Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association. Research in Germany divided the following 21 research areas into Environment and Energy, Health and Safety, Interdisciplinary Technologies, Communication and Mobility, and Future and Society.

Environment and Energy

Energy Technologies

Energy Technologies

Combined heat and power generation are among the issues being addressed by the government’s Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency Program. Another government-funded program in the renewable energy sector focuses on securing a sustainable raw material supply and exploring alternative energy sources. Researchers working on the “SiThinSolar” project are developing more cost-effective silicon-based solar cells.

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Plants

Plants

Germany seeks to become the European leader in plant biotechnology and plant breeding by 2015. The government’s “Competence Networks in Agricultural and Nutrition Research” competition aims to pool the strengths of the country’s best agricultural research institutions. Projects supported by the government include a biorefinery research center for the industrial use of biomass.

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Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

The FLASH facility at the national research center DESY, the world’s leading free-electron laser for research with photons, will make an important contribution to the European X-FEL X-ray free-electron laser, which will facilitate the study of the state of gas plasmas. Other research areas at large-scale facilities include astrophysics and the physics of condensed matter.

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Environmental Technologies

Environmental Technologies

Among the numerous government-supported projects in environmental technologies are: the VEGAS project in which scientists are examining how groundwater can be freed from contaminants using an alcohol cocktail; and AnaKomA, in which researchers adapt anaerobic water treatment plants to warmer climates. The government aims to deepen cooperation between industry, universities and research institutions by creating a framework that supports and encourages innovation.

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Health and Safety

Health Research

Health Research

Understanding how coffee can benefit our health is the aim of a project run by four academic institutions in cooperation with a German coffee firm. Other government-supported areas in health research include prevention and rehabilitation research, patient care research, and measures to enhance Germany’s role as a location for the biotechnical and pharmaceutical industries.

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Medical Technology

Medical Technology

A tiny capsule measuring heart patients’ blood pressure to enable rapid intervention if needed and avoid hospital stays is among the government-supported projects in medical technology. Other ventures include new systems to monitor people’s sleep or recognize whether they have suffered falls. Here, medical technology is combined with microsystems, information technologies and innovative services.

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Interdisciplinary Technologies

Security Technologies

Security Technologies

Government-supported security technology projects include the “OrGuMir” scheme. In this project, the University of Paderborn is cooperating with partners in science and industry to optimize evacuations in emergency situations. Several projects focus on developing innovations for road, rail, air and water transport. AISIS, for example, seeks to protect critical infrastructure in the event of terrorist attacks.

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Nanotechnologies

Nanotechnologies

Under the Nano Initiative, the government is funding networks to boost cooperation in science and industry and with international researchers. One network focuses on nanostructured semiconductor lasers for optical sensing. Other areas include strengthening links between basic and applied research and commercializing advanced technologies in nanotechnology and a “Technopark” with expertise in micro and nanotechnologies.

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Microsystems Technology

Microsystems Technology

The FlexTak project is developing an artificial organ with the sensitivity of a human fingertip. The ICT 2020 research program aims to boost the country’s lead in the ICT sector with an innovation policy covering the entire innovation chain. Focal research areas are addressed together with science and business.

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Biotechnology

Biotechnology

The GO-Bio initiative is helping scientists to bring their ideas to the marketplace and thus promote biotechnology in Germany. Government-funded projects have developed enzymes for detergents that are active at 40 instead of 60 degrees, enabling lower carbon dioxide emissions. Barley lines with better grain quality under drought stress have also been developed.

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Production Technologies

Production Technologies

Germany’s success in areas like mechanical engineering is largely a result of the effective cooperation between industry and a close-knit research network. The government is funding developments in many areas, including micro fuel cells and a 3D robot for clothing manufacture that controls the transportation of individual pieces to the sewing station and even checks material for quality. The government campaign “Green Production Technologies” will start in the fall 2010.

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Optical Technologies, Photonics

Optical Technologies, Photonics

LasSol is a collaborative project developing a new technology, laser doping, to enhance the efficiency of solar cells and cheapen solar electricity. Germany is a world leader in laser technology. Other initiatives in optical technologies include MaBriLas – Materials processing using brilliant laser sources –to boost the use of lasers in modern production processes.

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Materials Technologies

Materials Technologies

Developing new materials like conductive plastic is the aim of Materials Research. The government funding program WINGS (Materials Innovations for Industry and Society) integrates traditional materials research with chemistry and nanotechnology. Its goals include promoting international cooperation in this field but also contributing to solving societal problems such as those caused by demographic developments.

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Communication and Mobility

Maritime Technologies

Maritime Technologies

Germany’s High-Tech Strategy puts a strong emphasis on maritime technologies. The SUGAR project features a procedure combining methane production involving undersea methane hydrates with carbon dioxide storage. LASSE targets ship behaviour in heavy seas and the appropriate assessment of ship response.

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Information and Communication Technologies

Information and Communication Technologies

Progress in the information society is to be ensured by the “Information Society Germany 2010” action program, coordinating draft bills and funding programs. Under “ICT 2020 – Research for Innovations”, the Government is implementing its High-Tech Strategy in information and communication technologies. Germany is seeking greater transmission capacities in networks with the strategic initiative “100GET”.

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Aviation Technologies

Aviation Technologies

Air traffic is increasing rapidly in Germany, creating new jobs but also more noise and environmental pollution. The EFFESYS collaborative project for eco-efficient aircraft aims at more environmentally-friendly air traffic through fuel savings and emissions reductions. Also, Germany’s Government will  implement the European research agenda “ACARE-Vision 2020”, focusing on the environment and air safety.

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Automotive and Traffic Technology

Automotive and Traffic Technology

With ever growing traffic volume, new technologies are needed to make transport safer, faster and more sustainable. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) has supported the development of intelligent traffic lights responding to traffic situations. Also, Government agencies are cooperating with manufacturers, operators, universities and research institutions to promote traffic noise reduction.

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Space Technologies

Space Technologies

Techniques to combat space debris are the focus of the DEOS project. DEOS features both highly-sophisticated satellite technology and robotics. Germany is also heavily involved in a number of schemes run by the European Space Agency (ESA) addressing topics ranging from satellite communication to science in space.

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Future and Society

Humanities

Humanities

The “Freedom for Research in the Humanities” initiative seeks to enhance structures in the humanities and widen their scope. The government is also funding a project conducted by the Higher Education Information System (HIS) to support the dialogue on the international contribution that the German humanities are making.

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Social Sciences

Social Sciences

What effect does the public sector’s withdrawing from the utilities have? Can bio-fuel become a synonym for societal progress? These are just two of the issues addressed by Socio-Ecological Research, one of the key areas that the government funds in the social sciences. Other topics include work and lifestyle and disintegration processes.

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Services

Services

The service sector employs 35 percent of Germany’s working population. The “Services Made in Germany” Research Project, designed to assist the internationalization of the country’s service sector, and the “Sprint” Research Project, which seeks to counter the effects of malnutrition and little exercise on health, are just two of the numerous initiatives in this area.

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