Israeli scientists have been very successful in competing for the excellence-oriented research fellowships and awards of the Alexander von Humblodt Foundation. Young academics from Germany receive funding for research in Israel.
The first Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for Natural Research and Travel was founded in Berlin in 1860, one year after Alexander von Humboldt’s death. Until the loss of the foundation’s capital in the inflation year of 1923, it mainly supported research trips by German scientists to other countries. In 1925, the German Reich re-established the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Its purpose was now to support primarily foreign students and later also scientists and doctoral candidates during their stay in Germany. This foundation ceased its activities in 1945. Not least at the suggestion of former Humboldt guest researchers, the Federal Republic of Germany established today’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) on 10 December 1953. It is a non-profit foundation under private law with headquarters in Bonn.
By awarding research fellowships and research prizes, the Foundation enables highly qualified scientists and scholars from abroad to spend long-term research stays in Germany and supports the resulting academic connections. The initial sponsorship is followed by a comprehensive sponsorship programme for alumni. The AvH offers young German researchers the opportunity to work with former Humboldt guest researchers at their home institutions within the framework of the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship. The Foundation’s individual sponsorship is based on criteria of academic excellence without national or subject-related quotas.
Israeli scientists are often nominated for research awards (approximately 130 to date). In addition, they successfully apply for research fellowships (about 240 so far). At the same time, Israel is an attractive research destination for German applicants to the Feodor Lynen Programme (24 sponsorship applications to date).
Israeli Humboldtians have been organised in an alumni association with more than 260 alumni since 1975. Most Humboldtians (about 70) are at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Foundation’s work in the country is supported by a Trusted Scholar.
Since 2009, the AvH has been running the ‘German-Israeli Frontiers of Humanities’ symposia as part of the Frontiers of Research Symposia programme in cooperation with the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which are held annually alternately in Germany and Israel. Up to 50 scholars from the field of the humanities are invited once a year to explore new, interdisciplinary avenues of cooperation. The symposium is organised and sponsored by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Humboldt Foundation and serves to establish and strengthen interdisciplinary cooperation between researchers from both countries.
Regional and specialist networking is supported by funding national Humboldt Kollegs (most recently in January 2020 in the field of molecular neuroscience).
The AvH also oversees the Bert Sakmann Foundation, which was established by the German Nobel laureate in medicine. It sponsors a series of lectures by young German and Israeli scientists in each other’s countries.