The association was founded in 1970 and has a budget of €2.2 billion, accounted for by the government, the federal states and third parties. Helmholtz works in six research fields: energy, earth and environment, health, key technologies, structure of matter, and transport and space. About 30 research programs have a total staff of 24,000.The Helmholtz-DAAD Fellowships for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Students and the Young Investigators Groups are the most interesting programs for foreigners.
Helmholtz-DAAD Fellowships are awarded just once a year. They offer highly-qualified doctoral and postdoctoral students from around the world the opportunity to do research at a Helmholtz center in Germany. The closing date for applications is Dec. 15 of the same year. Doctoral students can apply for a funding term of 36 months. Additional payments include travel expenses, health insurance and family allowances. Applications may only be submitted to the DAAD Regional Offices or to the relevant diplomatic and consular missions of the Federal Republic of Germany and not to the head offices of the DAAD or the Helmholtz Association.
With the establishment of its Young Investigators Groups, Helmholtz aims to provide the best foreign and domestic junior researchers with excellent working conditions in a research-oriented environment. The program is directed at top post-doctorates from German or international institutions, who completed their doctorate. The candidates must have completed a six-month research period abroad during a doctorate or a post-doctorate phase. Joining a Young Investigators Group promises research independence and secure career prospects. Applicants should directly contact the person responsible for their group of choice at the respective Helmholtz center. The contact persons are usually listed on the centers’ websites.
Though only open to young researchers already working at a German university or one of the Helmholtz centers, Helmholtz Graduate Schools (Helmholtz-Kollegs) also accept foreigners. Helmholtz Graduate Schools are publicly funded institutions for young top-rate scientists and researchers, run jointly by Helmholtz centers and universities. Doctoral students joining one of those schools receive structured academic training in their specific field and support in enhancing their professional and personal skills to prepare them for outstanding careers in science and research or business and industry.