Not only technological but also social innovations are increasingly determining the competitiveness of national economies and the resilience of their societies. Higher education institutions are playing a decisive role in generating innovations in teaching, education and research. The ability to develop innovative solutions depends on universities having a sufficient pool of creative and highly qualified academics. Their performance is vitally influenced by interdisciplinary and international perspectives. Encountering new approaches and ideas, confronting different cultures of knowledge and patterns of thought help to sharpen one’s power of judgement and expand one’s possibilities of creative performance. Cross-border mobility and collaboration – which are indispensable for basic research – are also essential prerequisites for applied research and innovation. For Germany, participating in the international transfer of ideas, concepts, and new solutions is a matter of future sustainability. With regard to collaboration with industrial countries, the DAAD is developing new subject-oriented programme formats which specifically strengthen academic exchange in technological fields of innovation.