Early-career researchers in new German collaboration

Early-career researchers from 30 Australian universities will partner with their German counterparts on 71 different projects this year under a joint Australia-Germany research cooperation scheme.

Among the projects to be funded through the AU$2.7 million (US$1.9 million) scheme is one involving researchers from the two nations who plan to develop tailor-made 3D bone implants as well as low-cost ways of detecting dental disease, according to an announcement made on 9 November.

The joint programme is aimed at achieving closer research collaboration between the two countries. Since 2015, when the scheme was launched, almost AU$12 million has been allocated for 316 projects.

It resulted from a partnership between Universities Australia and the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD. The latter service is the world’s largest funding organisation for international academic cooperation.

Universities in Australia have provided AU$1.34 million to the scheme while the DAAD has contributed AU$1.5 million.

Australian researchers are able to spend time at partner institutions in Germany while German researchers work at the Australian universities.

The scheme is open to Australian researchers at participating Australian universities in all academic fields.

But, to be eligible for grants, Australian researchers must be working on a joint research project with their German counterparts, rather than just on their own research in Germany.

Likewise, German applicants seeking funding must also be involved with a joint research project in Australia.

New knowledge

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the bilateral scheme helped both nations build global research partnerships to solve major challenges in both countries.

“The connections that are forged between these researchers, at the very early stages of their careers, can lead to new knowledge and products down the line,” Jackson said.

Australian researchers receive up to AU$25,000 for travel and living expenses to support their research.

Jackson said many of the projects become ongoing after receiving larger funding grants from such organisations as the Australian Research Council and international funding bodies.

A list of the 71 successful projects to be funded under the scheme in 2018 can be seen via this link.

They include projects with titles such as ‘The philosophical history of ethical impartialism’; ‘Regulation of chloroplast signals conveying plant drought tolerance’; ‘Calibrating stellar ages in the era of Gaia for galactic archaeology’; and ‘Thermosensitive responses in striated muscle sensory neurons’.

“Having more than 70 projects funded this year is a testament to the quality of the research projects involved,” Jackson said.

“Australia leverages more funds through this German programme than through the US and the UK.”

According to Universities Australia, inclusion of early career researchers is a significant focus of this scheme.

The Australian government’s Enabling Growth and Innovation Program has provided AU$250,000 to cover the administrative costs over two years.