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Grants given to research institutes without a sound statement of requirements

Nov 11, 2020

Symbolbild - außeruniversitäre Forschungseinrichtungen

In the pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has given stop-gap grants to non-university research institutions although there has not always been a need for this. We highlighted this in a report that we addressed to the parliamentary Budget Committee.

The funds are taken from the federal economic stimulus and growth package. €400 million each are available for the years 2020 and 2021. These stop-gap grants designed to better survive the pandemic, have been given to the Fraunhofer Institute and Max Planck Society, Leibniz Association and Helmholtz Association. We are concerned that the institutions do not have to submit a statement of the requirements justifying that additional pandemic-related funding needs. We urged the Ministry to demand a sound justification of pandemic-related needs.

At the beginning of 2020, the Fraunhofer Institute for example still had reserves of €415 million, which also provide for possible risks. We hold that the Fraunhofer Institute should first use its own reserves set aside for crisis situations before the federal government steps in and makes new borrowing to ensure the Institute can leave its reserves untouched.

In addition, the Ministry announced to give funding to the research institutions even without reference to the pandemic, for supporting applied research in general. We highlighted that this was in no way related to the pandemic. We made the point that federal baseline funding of the research institutions has continually been on the rise and that this funding also serves to promote applied research. The Ministry should assess the actual pandemic-related funding requirements before providing extra grants.

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