Digitising Material Research in Germany – Third Call for BMBF Programme on Material Research Launched

Research grants are available for application-oriented multidisciplinary R&D projects in the field of material research that bring together partners from science and industry.

The initiative Digitising Material Research in Germany (Digitalisierung der Materialforschung in Deutschland – MaterialDigital) by Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF – Federal Ministry for Education and Research) is part of the overarching framework programme ‘From Material to Innovation‘ (Vom Material zur Innovation). It is intended to increase the efficiency of material and product development in Germany, accelerate development times and improve the quality of research results. The initiative targets the transformation of experimental material research with the aim of creating a digital multi-discipline with a strong focus on industrial application. Important aspects include the standardisation of methods and knowledge exchange.

The focus of this third call is on utilising and showcasing the benefits of the digital methodologies and concepts that were developed in previous funding rounds on the basis of specific material classes.

Funding is provided for high-risk, application-oriented industry-led research and development projects that bring together multiple partners in a consortium (Verbundprojekte). The focus is on multidisciplinary collaboration that covers the entire lifecycle of a material.

The initiative will support digital material science that enables significant improvements in existing materials or processing procedures through the use of innovative, digital methods in the context of concrete application cases. This may include knowledge production through one of the following methods:

  • Simulation of material structures and characteristics on various scale ranges and stages of life of a material.
  • Joint study of simulated and experimental data and their smart linkage.
  • Analysis of generated and/or existing data.

The aim is to develop a detailed image of the material in various scale ranges (digital twins) to shed light on the characteristics and behaviour of a material across its entire lifecycle. This is designed to enable targeted optimisation, make manufacturing processes more efficient, improve safety and facilitate easier recycling. Projects should aim to achieve the stage of demonstrator in an industrial environment by the end of the funding period. The initiative covers all material classes, including metals, plastics, ceramics as well as composites and multi-material systems. All application areas will be considered.

In addition to its application-oriented focus, the initiative is also intended to contribute to basic questions in the context of digital material research. Priority areas in this field include:

  • Development of concrete ontologies for material classes (common language).
  • Establishment of digital workflows in the sense of decentralised data and simulation concepts through active agents in the software environments of the newly established innovation platform.
  • Highlighting the added value of digital material research across the entire value chain.

To support collaboration between science and research in the field of material research, the initiative includes the establishment of an innovation platform to structure and support research projects. The platform offers the necessary infrastructure to provide access to the data and ontology concepts developed as part of the initiative’s first two calls. It will support participating research projects in all questions relating to data generation, data analysis and data exchange.

Funding is provided for industry-led research and development projects bringing together multiple applicant institutions in a consortia. Eligible for BMBF funding are commercial businesses, institutions of higher education (Hochschulen) and non-educational research institutions in Germany.

Funding is provided in the form of a project grant over a period of up to five years. For institutions of higher education and non-commercial research institutions may receive full funding. Funding levels for commercial businesses are generally capped at 40%. Funding is provided in accordance with AGVO guidelines and may vary depending on the type of applicant and the type of research carried out.

The scheme comprises a two-stage application process, with an initial invitation for outline proposals followed by the submission of a full, formal funding application for successful candidates.

The deadline for the submission of outline proposals is 31 August 2023.

An information event for interested parties is schedule for 15 June 2023.

BMBF intends to issue another call for this initiative in 2024.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)