The aim of the Excellence Initiative, an initiative of the federal government and the federal states which has made a total of €4.6 billion available for outstanding projects since 2006, is to encourage top-level research in Germany. In the three rounds of proposals to date, a total of 45 universities have obtained funding with proposals for Clusters of Excellence, Graduate Schools and Institutional Strategies.
But how sustainable is this support? The Funding Atlas 2015 examines this question by looking, among other things, at the acquisition of third-party funding outside the Excellence Initiative as well. We can see that the institutions funded through the initiative also submitted numerous successful proposals as part of EU programmes or for direct project funding by the federal government. Thus, around 38% of all professors in Germany are employed at universities in receipt of Excellence Initiative funding, but in contrast these institutions obtain around 76% of all third-party funding and approximately 96% of all ERC grants awarded in Germany. The obtained funding demonstrates the research capabilities of these universities, capabilities which were also strengthened by the Excellence Initiative.
Another aspect is cooperation in research. Firstly, the statistics show that Excellence Initiative-funded projects developed into important intersections in the regional networks of higher education institutions, non-university research institutions and industry, forging links between the different actors. Secondly, Clusters of Excellence and Graduate Schools give impetus to cooperation between disciplines – and not just for few individual, related subject areas that form 'islands'. In the humanities and social sciences, Graduate Schools in particular have woven dense subject structures that surpass the degree of collaboration visible in other funding instruments. Elsewhere, individual research areas such as geosciences have become links for successful cooperation.
Refer to the various tables and figures in the Funding Atlas 2015 to see how the Excellence Initiative has impacted on third-party funding acquisition, networking and interdisciplinarity.
Table 5-1: Personnel and third party funding of higher education institutions in 2012 by type of participation in the Excellence Initiative (xls)
Table 5-2: Participation in DFG, federal government and EU funding programmes for research by type of participation in the Excellence Initiative (xls)
Table 5-3: Number of AvH, DAAD and ERC funding recipients at higher education institutions by type of participation in the Excellence Initiative (xls)
Figure 5-7: Network of subject areas involved in Graduate Schools (png)
Figure 5-8: Network of subject areas involved in Clusters of Excellence (png)
Figure Web-6: Regional cooperation in Graduate Schools and Clusters of Excellence 2012/2013 (png)
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