COLLABORATION

Australia-Germany forge deeper ties through joint research

SOURCE: Etienne Boulanger/Unsplash
The Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme will boost collaboration between partner nations.

Early career researchers from Australia and Germany will share in grants totalling AU$2.2 million (US$1.5 million) to conduct research in areas of critical interest to both economies, from housing to healthcare and manufacturing.

With an eye on driving innovation through research collaboration, the Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme gives PhD and research masters students from both partner nations opportunities to work together to advance their project ideas.

In addition to earning academic kudos, the scheme helps forge deeper ties between Australian and German researchers and universities.

“Germany is one of the world’s most advanced economies and a research powerhouse – so it’s terrific to have a scheme to boost collaboration between brilliant Australian researchers and their German peers,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.

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The scheme is a joint initiative of the university peak body and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany’s national agency for the support of international academic cooperation. DAAD is also the largest funding organisation for international academic cooperation globally.

“International research collaborations, such as those funded by this scheme, make a huge contribution to Australia’s knowledge breakthroughs, growth and prosperity,” Jackson said.

To advance their projects, participating researchers will each spend time at partner institutions, meaning researchers from Australian universities will visit their counterparts in Germany and vice versa.

The idea is to create a robust platform for knowledge exchange for both sides, encouraging a culture of collaboration and enabling the exchange of ideas, both of which are critical to innovation.

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International research collaborations are important for universities, delivering benefits to both student, staff and the economies they serve.

In fact, one in five of the world’s scientific papers are co-authored internationally. Research collaborations enable the vital exchange of ideas and bring multiple viewpoints to the table, allowing for scrutiny and healthy debate, which are essential for academic and scientific accomplishment and progress. 

It also grants visiting academics access to partner facilities, creating for them new experiences and augmenting their personal development.

“These researchers will visit each other’s countries as they work together on big issues for both our nations – but also for humanity more broadly,” Jackson adds of the Australia-Germany scheme.

Funding for the scheme will commence next year and the projects to draw from it include one that aims to seek deeper insights into the Australian housing market; another to develop cardiac patches; and another to assess uses of AI in advanced manufacturing.

In total, it will see early career researchers from 25 Australian universities partner with German researchers on 49 projects.

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Since 2015, more than AU$13.7 million in funding has been awarded to 366 projects.

Funding for the Australian researchers is provided by Australian universities, with the costs of administering the scheme supported by the Australian government and the Department of Education.

Jackson thanked the Australian government – and especially Education Minister Dan Tehan and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann – for their continued support for the bilateral scheme.

“Consistent strong backing for this scheme by government over a long period of time has nurtured this relationship and made a powerful contribution to research advances,” she said.