Collaboration is one of the primary drivers of high-quality research in Bavaria. Researchers here are highly sought after as collaborative partners, given their broad networks and their excellent track-record. This opens up many opportunities to young researchers.

International Collaboration

To master today’s scientific challenges researchers in Bavaria collaborate closely with international colleagues and research institutions around the world. Thanks to these high quality networks, Bavaria is taking a top spot when it comes to third-party funding: Within the framework of the EU research and innovation funding programme Horizon 2020 an outstanding number of Bavarian grant proposals have passed the examination process—making Bavaria’s universities rank among the most successful institutions in Germany.

The universities themselves support international collaborations by offering advice services for third party funding as well as their strategic networks. PhD candidates for their part profit e.g. from international training programs and other collaborative formats.

Collaborative Structures among Universities

International, national, and Bavarian funding organizations promote collaborative research at universities in different formats. These specially funded programs offer a variety of development opportunities aimed at researchers of all career levels, such as paid positions for PhD candidates, junior group leader positions, and positions within research training groups.

Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) and Formats Funded by DFG

Collaborative Research Centers

Collaborative Research Centers (Sonderforschungsbereiche, SFB) have played a fundamental role in the German research community for over 50 years. The format has been established by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the self-governing organization for science and research in Germany. The centers carry out complex, demanding, innovative research. They can secure funding for up to 12 years.

The centers have an interdisciplinary focus. They are usually home to multiple projects, each one focusing on a different aspect around one main topic. Some centers are located at a single university, while others are situated at a number of different research institutions across Germany and also count non-university research institutes among their partners.

Research Units and (International) Research Training Groups

Similar collaborative formats funded by DFG are the so-called Research Units (Forschungsgruppen), which often contribute to establishing new research directions, and (International) Research Training Groups. These thematic graduate schools focus on the promotion of early-career researchers and can also be regarded as a form of collaborative research, sometimes offered by more than one university. Check out our structured PhD program list to find the program that best suits your research topic.

Clusters of Excellence

A nationwide effort to promote excellence in research over the last decade (Germany's Exzellenzinitiative and Exzellenzstrategie) has created a new type of research unit, the Clusters of Excellence (Exzellenzcluster). Each cluster has its own special subject area. These areas tend to be thematic concepts that invite interdisciplinary exchange between researchers from different backgrounds

The clusters receive generous funding and showcase high-quality research. Four universities in Bavaria currently participate in six Clusters of Excellence:

Bavarian Research Associations

The Bavarian Ministries and the Bavarian Research Foundation (Bayerische Forschungsstiftung) foster interdisciplinary collaboration through research associations. These Bavarian research associations are organized into thematic groups and include participants from different universities and often companies from across Bavaria. Research associations come together to work on a specific issue for a number of years. The associations, which sometimes consist of public-private partnerships, offer a unique opportunity for researchers at different types of institutions to collaborate.

Bavarian Research Networks

The Bavarian Climate Research Network (Bayklif)

The network aims to strengthen climate change research efforts in Bavaria. A particular focus of Bayklif is facilitating contact between researchers, government representatives, climate-policy initiatives, and the public. To maintain open, interdisciplinary exchange between these parties, the network helps organize a range of academic events—including workshops, symposia, seminars, and educational programs. A number of junior research groups and interdisciplinary joint research projects have been established under Bayklif. – Multi-Resistant Pathogens and Digital Networking

The initiative is a Bavarian-wide collaborative network that promotes research in life sciences and data management. Its aim is to explore new approaches in basic research that respond to the problem of drug resistance in pathogens. Through a cross-project data platform, all network members will be able to share, access, and evaluate data collected during the course of’s various projects. The network will fund up to six research groups over the next five years starting 2020.

University Collaboration with Non-University Research Institutions

Particularly close cooperation exists between universities and non-university research institutions that are often located in the same area or even on the same campus. For example, doctoral candidates doing a joint PhD will receive training from both the university and non-university research institution where they are registered; similarly, university professors can be appointed as institute heads at research institutions.

University Collaborations with Society and Industry

Outside of academia, universities collaborate intensively with a variety of actors, including governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as small and large enterprises. In fact, the success of the German economy is often attributed to this collaboration with industry partners. The open exchange between universities, industry, and society continues to drive and strengthen scientific and technological development in sectors throughout Bavaria.

Knowledge and Technology Transfer Services

Alongside research and teaching, a third priority has grown ever more important among universities worldwide: the application of knowledge and technology beyond academic environments. Knowledge and Technology Transfer involves cultivating greater engagement between universities, economy, and society in order to promote social and technological progress.

Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) Services at Bavarian Universities

All universities and some universities of applied sciences offer services in knowledge and technology transfer. These services include advice on corporate partnerships, Intellectual Property management, legal advice on patents and licensing, contract design, and contract mediation. There are also events and workshops for researchers on how to translate their ideas and knowledge into realizable projects and how to implement them in collaboration with partners in industry and society. Possible forms of cooperation include PhD projects, engagement with experts, consulting, contract research and development cooperations, and multiyear research projects.


The Cluster Initiative is a product of the State’s efforts to promote economic development in Bavaria. The main goal is exchange between industry partners within the same sector and Bavarian universities. The platform provides an overview of important high-tech industries and traditional key sectors of the Bavarian economy.

There are 17 clusters, which promote networking in the fields of energy and environmental technology, mobility, materials, digitization, and health. Check the “Contact Cluster” to link to the individual website of each cluster. The majority of the individual websites offer an English version.

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