Clusters of Excellence (Excellence Strategy)
Clusters of Excellence support project-based funding in internationally competitive research fields at a university or university consortium.
This funding line, which was established under the Excellence Initiative (2005 – 2017), was further developed in the Excellence Strategy.
All 88 invited full proposals for Clusters of Excellence were received by the DFG by the 21 February 2018 deadline.
Clusters of Excellence are intended to form an important part of the strategic and thematic planning of the applicant university/universities, hone their profiles and promote prioritisation. They are also expected to create excellent training and career opportunities for early career researchers. Together with the Universities of Excellence, Clusters of Excellence serve to strengthen Germany's position as a research location in the long term and further improve its international competitiveness.
Additional information on Clusters of Excellence, including the programme objectives, eligibility requirements and proposal submission procedure, can be found in the call for proposals, which was agreed upon by the Committee of Experts at its inaugural meeting on 20/21 September 2016.
Proposals in the Clusters of Excellence funding line are reviewed and decided upon in an academically driven, two-stage competitive process (draft proposals and full proposals), which is implemented by the DFG.
The DFG Head Office received a total of 195 draft proposals by the 3 April 2017 deadline. From these, on 28 September 2017 the Committee of Experts selected 88 to compete in the full proposal stage. All anticipated full proposals were submitted by the 41 applicant universities by the cut-off deadline on 21 February 2018. The 88 full proposals will be reviewed by 32 international panels between April and June 2018. Final decisions will be made by the Excellence Commission on 27 September 2018, with funding to begin on 1 January 2019.
- FAQ: Excellence Strategy (in German only)
- Link to pdf Schedule for the Excellence Strategy through 2019 (PDF | 101 KB)
- Guidelines – Clusters of Excellence Funding Line (DFG form ExStra 100)
- Press Release No. 41 | 29 September 2017: "Initial Decisions in Germany’s Excellence Strategy"
- Link to pdf List of Projects Invited to Submit Full Proposals (PDF | 94 KB)
To support project-based funding in internationally competitive research fields at a university or university consortium; hone research profiles and promote prioritisation at universities; create excellent training and career opportunities for early career researchers.
Proposals may be submitted by universities and consortia of two, in exceptional cases three applicant universities.
Clusters of Excellence serve to strengthen the research profiles of applicant universities by enhancing priority areas and providing prospects for development. They build on outstanding previous work and address an institution’s strengths and weaknesses in relevant performance areas.
Important funding criteria are:
- Excellence of research
- Track record of participating researchers
- High quality of the university’s supporting structures in the Cluster of Excellence
- Supportive and high-performance environment for the Cluster of Excellence
Type and Extent of Funding
Clusters of Excellence funded under the Excellence Strategy can receive between €3 million and €10 million annually.
Funding covers personnel, direct project costs and instrumentation. The funding amount for a Cluster of Excellence includes a programme allowance for indirect project costs of 22 percent of the approved and expended project funds.
On the basis of a proposal, additional funds of up to €1 million per year can be requested as a university allowance.
Clusters of Excellence are funded for seven years (1 January 2019 through 31 December 2025). A second funding period of seven years is possible.
Forms and Guidelines