Non-state Funding

The main sources of non-state Drittmittel are (in order of significance) funding from the private sector, international (especially EU) funding and third sector funding.[1] As mentioned above (Sect., the attraction of non-public Drittmittel is encouraged by government policy.

Whilst third sector funding hardly constitutes a factor in overall research spending in Germany (Sect. 4.4.1 above), it does have some significance for funding HEIs. Third sector organisations provide project and institutional funding including establishing their own HEIs, research institutes or chairs. Some charitable foundations of private sector organisations also have a for-profit section offering advisory services to research organisations such as ‘CHE consult’ of the Centre for HEI development (Centrum fur Hochschulentwicklung).[2]

Funding from the private sector takes similar forms as in the other two countries. Research co-operations are conducted, especially in the natural sciences, which sometimes take the form of long term PPPs.[3] Another common form of collaboration between industry and HEIs in Germany is contract research. In this regard, the increasing integration of contract research into university structures and budgets posed new challenges to the traditional public non-profit character of universities.[4]

Universities might also receive private funding through the commercial use of IPRs. Whilst, according to the Copyright Act, the copyright always remains with the author rather than with the employer (§ 7, 11 Gesetz uber Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutzrechte), universities became responsible for patenting innovations made by their employees through a change in the Employee Invention Act (Deutsches Gesetz uber Arbeitnehmererfindungen) in 2002. Before 2002 there used to be an exemption for HEI personnel. This opened up another source of income from the private sector through licensing or spin-off creation. Patenting as a source of income is especially relevant for the natural and formal sciences. A negative consequence of patenting could, however, be that enjoyment of the publicly generated knowledge is forestalled if a patent is not actually exploited. Furthermore, agreeing on IPR ownership has occasionally been an issue in research co-operations.[5]

Staff exchanges are equally encouraged by the DFG, at the federal level and by the EU.[6] The private sector and, to a lesser extent, the third sector and philanthropists also fund chairs (Stiftungsprofessuren) in HEIs which are usually taken over by the HEI after a few years. Whilst the funder is not supervising or directing the research undertaken by the chair holder, the funder has previously defined the speciality in which the chair will be established. This form of collaboration has become increasingly popular in recent years.[7] ‘Clusters’ are what is being referred to as science parks in the other two systems; a regional agglomeration of organisations which are working on related topics. The organisations remain independent and compete with each other.[8] [9]

Unique features of the German system are the so-called ‘An-Institute’. These institutes formally exist outside university structures but are affiliated with them through a cooperation agreement. They are often managed by a university professor, conduct mainly applied research and are usually incorporated as not- for-profit limited liability companies (gemeinnutzige Gesellschaften mit beschrankter Haftung).212 The Wissenschaftsrat describes them as being problematic in respect of their not-for-profit character, since they do conduct mainly market research.[10] Finally, university-industry research centres (Universitats-Industrie-Forschungs-Zentren, UIFZ) are a currently less common form of collaboration between the private sector and HEIs in Germany. They are used for long-term collaboration on a topic without a specific aim and might just receive monetary contributions or involve more practical collaboration. An example for this kind of collaboration is the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (Deutsches Forschungszentrum fur Kunstliche Intelligenz)[11]

a collaboration between three universities, the Frauenhofer Gesellschaft and a variety of private companies including John Deere and Microsoft.[12] Full Costing

Full costing is relatively new in German HEIs. It became relevant because the funding provided by EU Framework Programme 7 was given out on a full cost basis and the previous Research Framework[13] required implementation of full costing in HEIs by 1 January 2009 (Section 10.2) for economic research.[14] While implementation has begun in the last years,[15] publications on different full costing models for HEIs,[16] workshops and conferences on the subject[17] and consultancies offering assistance and advice to HEIs[18] seem to indicate that HEIs still struggle with the details of full costing. Indeed a recent study commissioned by BMBF suggests that only few universities have managed to introduce a comprehensive full cost model.[19] Coordination at state level only takes place in a limited number of states.[20] The implementation of full costing thus differs from HEI to HEI in Germany. Further, it appears that HEIs partly simply accept the prices offered by external funders, as they do not consider external funding as ‘negotiable’.[21] Therefore, Drittmittel have to be matched with generic funding to a significant extent (by about 41 %) which becomes increasingly difficult with reductions in generic funding and might bring some HEIs to the limit of their capacity as regards acceptance of Drittmittel projects.[22] The Bund is trying to compensate for this with overhead allowances for DFG and BMBF funded projects which, however, cover only around half of the matching costs.[23]

  • [1] Statistisches Bundesamt 2015, Table 2.7 (p. 261 seq).
  • [2] On third sector funding see Enders 2007, p. 26; Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 67 seq; Hinze2010, p. 168 seq; Speth 2010, p. 392 seq; BMBF 2016, p. 76.
  • [3] Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 34 seq; Rohrbeck 2010, p. 435 seq; BMBF 2016, pp. 78, 208 seq.
  • [4] Enders 2007, p. 22 seq; Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 37 seq; Andersen 2010, p. 1235;Seckelmann 2010, p. 228; Statistisches Bundesamt 2015, p. 165.
  • [5] On IPR exploitation see Enders 2007, p. 24; Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 34 seq, p. 41 seq;Seckelmann 2010, p. 228; BMBF 2016, p. 83 seq, 212 seq.
  • [6] Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 50 seq; BMBF 2016, p. 56.
  • [7] Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 36 seq; ClaBen et al. 2009. According to the latter therewere about 660 of such chairs in Germany in 2009 (p. 5). See also BMBF 2016, p. 232 onStiftungsprofessuren as part of an initiative called InnoProfile-Transfer.
  • [8] Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 39 seq; BMBF 2016, p. 208 seq, 215 seq.
  • [9] On An-Institute see Enders 2007, p. 24; Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 36; BMBF 2016, p. 66.
  • [10] Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 36.
  • [11] For further information see their website on
  • [12] On UIFZs see Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 37 seq; Rohrbeck 2010, p. 435. See also, for anotherexample, BMBF 2016, p. 96 (big data centre).
  • [13] Community framework for state aid for research and development and innovation OJ [2006]C 323/01.
  • [14] On the beginnings of full costing in Germany see also Enders 2007, p. 21; Wissenschaftsrat2007, p. 86 seq; Andersen 2010, p. 1236 seq.
  • [15] See, for example, the resolution of the conference of German Vice Chancellors(EntschlieBung der 2. Mitgliederversammlung am 27.11.2007, p. 8 Sect. 4d) recommendingthe introduction of full costing following the Anglo-Saxon model or the Wissenschaftsrat’srecommendation to this effect (Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 87).
  • [16] See, for example, Friedl 2008; Andersen 2010, p. 1240 seq.
  • [17] For example, Freie Universitat Berlin and Syncwork, UniFinanz 2012: Vollkosten- undTrennungsrechnung—Chances und Risiken fur die Steuerung von Hochschulen (Englishtranslation: Full costing and separate accounting—Chances and risks for the governance ofhigher education institutions) (Berlin 14 June 2012).
  • [18] See, for example, the specific service offer for HEIs as regards full costing by the companySyncwork on Accessed 1 July2012.
  • [19] Astor et al. 2014, p. 130 seq.
  • [20] Estermann and Claeys-Kulik 2013, p. 19 seq.
  • [21] Astor et al. 2014, p. 133. See also Hetze and Mostovova 2013 p. 31 seq.
  • [22] Astor et al. 2014, p. 1 seq.
  • [23] Astor et al. 2014, p. 5 seq; BMBF (2016) DFG-Programmpauschale (English translation:DFG Programme allowance). 14 August 2016. The DFG Programmpauschale has been lifted from 20 to 22 %of overheads in 2016 for which the Lander now contribute some funding. This issue hadpreviously caused some controversy after the Federal Financial Court (Bundesfinanzhof)declared that the Lander ought to contribute to the overhead costs (see further Stalinski(2014) Wissenschaftskonferenz berat Hochschulpakt: Fur die Forschung wird es eng (Englishtranslation: Science Conference advises on HEI Pact: It gets tight for research). Accessed 30 October 2014).
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