Decisions on the first round of the excellence initiative announced

873 million euros for top-level academic research

Funding decisions for the first round of the Excellence Initiative have been made. After a total of 88 proposals for the three funding lines were evaluated and discussed by international review panels and the Joint Commission of the German Science Council and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee has awarded funding to 18 graduate schools, 17 clusters of excellence, and three institutional strategies. The decisions were announced in Bonn by the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Dr. Annette Schavan, as well as the Ministers of Science and Research, Professor Peter Frankenberg (Baden-Württemberg) and Professor Jürgen Zöllner (Rhineland-Palatinate). For this first round, about 175 million euros have been approved per year to fund initiatives at 22 universities.

The following awards were made (universities in alphabetical order by city):

Graduate Schools

University Name of Graduate School
RWTH Aachen University Aachen Institute for Advanced Studies in Computational Engineering Science
Free University of Berlin Graduate School of North American Studies
Humboldt University Berlin Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Technical University of Berlin Berlin Mathematical School
Ruhr University Bochum Ruhr University Research School
University of Bonn Bonn Graduate School of Economics
University of Bremen Global Change in the Marine Realm
Dresden University of Technology Dresden International Graduate School for Biomedicine and Bioengineering
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Erlangen Graduate School in Advanced Optical Technologies
University of Freiburg Molecular Cell Research in Biology and Medicine
University of Gießen International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture
Hannover Medical School Hannover Biomedical Research School
University of Heidelberg Heidelberg Graduate School of Fundamental Physics
University of Karlsruhe (TH) Karlsruhe School of Optics and Photonics
University of Mannheim Empirical and Quantitative Methods in the Economic and Social Sciences
University of Munich Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences
Technical University of Munich International Graduate School of Science and Engineering
University of Würzburg Graduate School for Life Sciences

Clusters of Excellence

University Name of Cluster of Excellence
RWTH Aachen University Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries
RWTH Aachen University Ultra High-Speed Mobile Information and Communication
University of Bonn Mathematics: Foundations, Models, Applications
Dresden University of Technology From Cells to Tissues to Therapies: Engineering the Cellular Basis of Regeneration
University of Frankfurt am Main Macromolecular Complexes
University of Gießen Cardio-Pulmonary System
University of Göttingen Microscopy at the Nanometer Range
Hannover Medical School From Regenerative Biology to Reconstructive Therapy
University of Heidelberg Cellular Networks: From Analysis of Molecular Mechanisms to a Quantitative Understanding of Complex Functions
University of Karlsruhe (TH) Center for Functional Nanostructures
University of Kiel The Future Ocean
University of Konstanz Cultural Foundations of Social Integration
University of Munich Munich Center for Integrated Protein Science
University of Munich Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics
University of Munich Nanosystems Initiative Munich
Technical University of Munich Cognition for Technical Systems
Technical University of Munich Origin and Structure of the Universe – The Cluster of Excellence for Fundamental Physics

Institutional Strategies to Promote Top-Level Research

University of Karlsruhe (TH)
University of Munich
Technical University of Munich

Preparation of the decision:
For the first round of the Excellence Initiative, following a preliminary selection of draft proposals in spring 2006, 39 proposals were received for graduate schools and another 39 for clusters of excellence. These 78 proposals were assigned to 24 specialised panels, reviewed by international groups of experts, and discussed by the DFG-appointed Expert Commission. Of the approximately 300 experts, about 60 percent came from other European countries, about 30 percent from outside Europe, and about ten percent from Germany. Evaluations were based on the criteria of scientific quality, interdisciplinarity, international prominence, and the integration of regional research capacities. The Strategic Commission appointed by the Science Council was in charge of the ten institutional strategy proposals. Initially, proposals were reviewed locally by groups of international experts. To be eligible for institutional strategy funding, a university must have been approved for at least one cluster of excellence and one graduate school. The Joint Commission, made up of members of both the Expert and the Strategic Commission, discussed the proposals and evaluation results. The DFG Grants Committee based its final decisions on the funding recommendations given by the Joint Commission.

A total of 1.9 billion euros have been earmarked for the promotion of top-level research as part of the Excellence Initiative (2006 to 2011). According to an agreement between the states and the federal government regarding the approximate amounts for the individual funding lines, about 1 million euros were to be made available per year for each graduate school and about 6.5 million euros for each cluster of excellence, not including a supplemental allowance of 20 percent for project-related indirect expenses. The funding line "institutional strategies" was to be endowed with about 21 million euros per year, including the resources for the first two funding lines. However, these amounts are only guidelines, as today's differentiated decisions demonstrate.

Second round of proposals:
The second round of proposals for the Excellence Initiative began in September 2006. Currently, draft proposals for the first and second funding line, submitted by 70 universities, are being reviewed by international groups of experts. In January 2007 the Joint Commission will decide which initiatives will be invited to submit full proposals. Proposals that were not accepted in the first round will be given a second chance and compete with newly submitted draft proposals. All proposals will be evaluated in the summer of 2007. Funding decisions will be made by the responsible Grants Committee in October 2007.


For detailed information regarding the Excellence Initiative and final funding decisions, please visit and

On Monday, 16 October 2006, from 4 to 5 pm, the President of the DFG, Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, and the President of the German Science Council, Professor Peter Strohschneider, will be available to answer questions about the Excellence Initiative in a live Internet chat at For details, please visit

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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