Environment and Energy
Combined heat and power generation is among the issues addressed by the Government’s Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency Programme. Another Government-funded programme in Energy Technologies, on “Renewable Energies”, is to secure a sustainable raw material supply and explore alternative sources. In the project “SiThinSolar”, researchers are developing more cost-effective silicon-based solar cells.
More information: Research in Germany: Energy
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 centre for the industrial use of biomass.
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The FLASH facility at the national research centre 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 is to enable studying the state of gas plasmas. Other research areas at large-scale facilities include Astrophysics and the Physics of Condensed Matter.
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The project VEGAS, examining how groundwater can be freed from contaminants using an alcohol cocktail, and AnaKomA, in which researchers are adapting anaerobic water treatment plants to warmer climates, are among projects supported by the Government in Environmental Technologies. The Government aims to deepen cooperation between industry, universities and research institutions by creating a framework supporting innovation.
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Health and Safety
Finding out 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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A tiny capsule measuring heart patients’ blood pressure to enable quick help 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 recognise if they have suffered falls. Here, Medical Technology is combined with microsystems, information technologies and innovative services.
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Government-supported Security Technology projects include the “OrGuMir” scheme. In this project, the University of Paderborn is cooperating with partners in science and industry on optimising 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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Under the Nano Initiative, the Government is funding networks to boost cooperation in science and with industry and international researchers. One network focuses on nanostructured semiconductor lasers for optical sensing. Other areas include strengthening links between basic and applied research and commercialising advanced technologies in nanotechnology and a “Technopark” with expertise in Micro and Nanotechnologies.
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The project FlexTak is developing an artificial organ with the sensitivity of a human fingertip. The ICT 2020 research programme 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.
More information: Research in Germany: Microsystems
The GO-Bio initiative is helping scientists to bring their ideas to the marketplace and thus promote Biotechnology in Germany. Government-funded projects have come up with enzymes for detergents that are active at 40 instead of 60 degrees, enabling lower carbon dioxide emissions, and barley lines with better grain quality under drought stress.
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Germany’s success in areas like Mechanical Engineering is largely based on industry’s cooperating with a close-knit research network. The Government is funding developments in many areas, including micro fuel cells and a 3D robot for clothes manufacture that controls the transportation of individual pieces to the sewing station and even checks material for quality. The government campaign “Green Production Technologies” is to start in autumn 2010.
More information: Research in Germany: Production technologies
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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Developing new materials like conductive plastic is the aim of Materials Research. The Government funding programme 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 problems in society such as those caused by demographic developments.
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Communication and Mobility
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
Progress in the information society is to be ensured by the “Information Society Germany 2010” action programme, coordinating draft bills and funding programmes. 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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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 is to implement the European research agenda “ACARE-Vision 2020”, focusing on the environment and air safety.
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Automotive and Traffic Technology
With ever growing traffic volumes, 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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Techniques to combat space debris are what the DEOS project is about. 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
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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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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The services sector employs 35 percent of Germany’s working population. The “Services Made in Germany” Research Project, designed to assist the internationalisation of the country’s services sector, and the “Sprint” Research Project, seeking to counter the effects of malnutrition and little exercise on health, are just two of the several initiatives in this area.
More information: Research in Germany: Services