German Excellence Strategy Receives Funding Boost of €154 Million

The Joint Science Conference (GWK) confirms funding for the second competition phase of €687 million to support up to 70 Clusters of Excellence over a period of seven years.

At its autumn meeting, the German Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz – GWK) announced the decision to further develop the German Federal Excellence Strategy with expanded funding for the second competition phase. The high-profile initiative is designed to promote top-level research at German universities by supporting research of the highest standard, enhancing research profiles, and facilitating cooperation in the research system. It is funded by both federal and state governments and administered by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

In its initial phase, the programme supported 57 projects with an overall budget of €533 million. For the second phase, the initiative will expand its reach with an increased budget of €687 million which will allow for up to 70 Clusters of Excellence to access support. This will allow currently supported universities to apply for a renewal of funding as well as offer opportunities for institutions that have not been funded previously. In addition to the Clusters of Excellence, GWK also confirmed its plan to fund up to four more Universities of Excellence.

The GWK statement was flanked by further positive announcements for the German research landscape. GWK chairwoman and Federal Minister for Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger also confirmed the extension of the National Research Data Infrastructure Programme (Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur – NFDI) which currently supports 26 subject-specific and methodological consortia. The programme will now support seven more consortia and one initiative to provide basic cross-consortia services.

Other announcements concerned the extension of the Female Professors Programme (Professorinnenprogramm), as well as the continued funding of the long-term epidemiological study NAKO Gesundheitsstudie. GWK also announced the launch of ‘Zukunftsvertrag Studium und Lehre stärken‘ (Contract to Strengthen Future Study and Teaching) which will support German universities with up to €20.8 billion to ensure high quality study and teaching and to maintain study capacities.

The call for proposals for the second competition phase of the Cluster of Excellence funding line is scheduled to be issued on 15 December 2022. On the same day, DFG are offering a virtual information event for interested universities.  New initiatives will be asked to submit a letter of intent to DFG by 1 February 2023.

The second call for the Universities of Excellence funding line is scheduled to launch in March 2024.

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