21.05.2021 | KPMG Law Insights

Pact No. 3: “Pact for Research and Innovation (PFI)”.

Pact No. 3: “Pact for Research and Innovation (PFI)”.

The PFI is now undergoing its fourth update since it was first adopted in 2005. If the press release of the Joint Science Conference (GWK) is to be believed, the PFI is also recognized internationally as a “guarantor of stability and at the same time development dynamics”. There is not much change to the expiring pact. Probably the most important innovations concern the first individual target agreements with the research organizations, the requirement for “science-adequate controlling” and the length of planning security.

The German Research Foundation and the four major research organizations (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association and Max Planck Society) will receive financial security until 2030. The federal and state governments will provide funding of around 120 billion euros by 2030. The annual increase of three percent will be maintained until 2025. Around an additional 17 billion euros will be made available as a result of dynamization alone. The participation of the states in the financing meets the requested adjustment of the PFI in accordance with the coalition agreement. In this, it was stated that the federal states should be involved again in the future. This return to state participation is to be implemented in stages. First, the states step in to fund the increase using the 2015 formulae. Starting in 2024, they will then also participate in the previous financing in annual increments on the basis of the old keys. This will result in an additional burden of several million euros for the federal states.

The current DFG program allowance of 22 percent of the costs will remain in place after 2021 – initially for another five years.

Clear target agreements will be made with the research organizations for the years 2021-2025. These are agreed upon and implemented on an individual and organization-specific basis, but are guided by five research policy objectives, which are taken from the GWK press release on the PFI:

  1. Promote dynamic development
    (Addressing high-risk research, strengthening and developing appropriate tools).
  1. Strengthen transfer to business and society
    (Transfer and utilization of ideas, research results and knowledge through intensive exchange with business, society and politics)
  2. Deepen networking
    (science organizations among themselves as well as with universities)
  3. Attracting and retaining the best minds
    (Creation of contemporary concepts for attractive conditions throughout the entire scientific career)
  4. Strengthen infrastructures for research
    (strategic planning and sustainable financing of infrastructures, opening up for use beyond the institution itself, taking into account the needs of universities).

These target agreements serve to create binding framework conditions for research and innovation. The goal is stable growth of the research organizations and their strategic further development. The focus is on networking with universities, companies and social institutions, among others.

The research organizations are required to carry out “science-adequate controlling” in order to monitor the achievement of objectives. This includes regular reporting to the GWK. In this report, the achievement of the objectives is to be presented in a comprehensible manner on the basis of meaningful indicators. For the period after 2025, the target agreements are to be reviewed in due course and adjusted if necessary.

It remains to be seen how the so-called “strategy room” will be implemented. The federal government plans to withhold a certain amount from PFI for cross-organizational initiatives, including with universities. The form this will take is uncertain and is still to be fleshed out with the states. Regardless of whether this project succeeds, however, the federal government has now already pledged funding.

Funding for research organizations is secured through 2030, and the organizations can look forward to a significant amount of additional funding. The PFI agreement once again highlights the importance of research in Germany.

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