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  • NATURE INDEX

German science on the world stage: visualized

European science powerhouse

For high-quality research output in Europe, which in the Nature Index includes the United Kingdom and Switzerland, Germany is the heaviest hitter. It is ranked third in the world after the United States and China. From 2015 to 2019, Germany accounted for 24% of total Share in Europe and 7.5% of the total global Share. In the same time period, the 47 countries in Europe in the Nature Index accounted for roughly one-third of the total global Share, its contribution only slightly lower than that of the United States.

European science powerhouse: Total global Shares for the world’s top nations

Source: Nature Index. Data analysis by Catherine Cheung; infographic by Bec Crew and Tanner Maxwell

Research expenditure

In an analysis of selected countries’ efficiency of research spending, measured by how much Share they produce for each dollar of R&D invested, the United Kingdom comes out on top, with a normalized Share of 0.079 for each million US dollars spent. Germany is in the mid-range of efficiency, with a normalized Share of 0.042 for each million US dollars spent. Circles are sized according to each country’s total Share (2015–18). On the x axis, the United States has the highest annual average R&D spend; Finland, Norway and Israel are among the lowest in absolute spending terms.

Research expenditure: graph showing efficiency of research spending for some countries

Source: Nature Index. Data analysis by Catherine Cheung; infographic by Bec Crew and Tanner Maxwell

Research output by population

Germany (population: 83 million) is among the best-performing nations in the world for Share per capita. Switzerland (population: 8.6 million) is a world leader by this measure, with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich its strongest institutional performer.

Research output by population: bar chart showing average Share by population for the world’s top nations

Source: Nature Index. Data analysis by Catherine Cheung; infographic by Bec Crew and Tanner Maxwell

Forward-thinkers

In 2018, Germany was ranked fifth in the world for its ratio of European patent applications to population, a measure of inventiveness. Whereas Germany had 332 patent applications per million inhabitants, Switzerland, which out-performed every other country, had 956.

Forward-thinkers: bar chart showing ratio of European patent applications to population for the top 5 European nations

Sources: Nature Index/European Patent Office. Data analysis by Catherine Cheung; infographic by Bec Crew and Tanner Maxwell

Science cities

Our top science cities in Europe are those with institutions that collectively published the highest output in the 82 journals tracked by the Nature Index from 2015 to 2019. Germany has two cities in the top 10, Berlin and Munich. Two of the country’s most prolific institutions, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and Leibniz Association, are headquartered in Berlin. Germany’s leading institution in the Index, the Max Planck Society, has its headquarters in Munich, along with the country’s top-ranked universities: Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich and the Technical University of Munich.

Science cities: Map showing locations for the top science cities in Europe

Sources: Nature Index/German Federal Ministry of Education and Research/Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Data analysis by Catherine Cheung; infographic by Bec Crew and Tanner Maxwell

Research budget

The private sector contributes the vast majority of funding to Germany’s R&D budget. According to the European Union’s 2019 R&D Investment Scoreboard, 4 of the 20 most active R&D companies in the EU were based in Germany (Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Robert Bosch).

Research budget: Pie chart showing breakdown of funding for Germany’s R&D budget

Sources: Nature Index/German Federal Ministry of Education and Research/Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Data analysis by Catherine Cheung; infographic by Bec Crew and Tanner Maxwell

Nature 587, S110-S111 (2020)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-03320-2

This article is part of Nature Index 2020 Germany, an editorially independent supplement. Advertisers have no influence over the content.

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