Information for Researchers, No. 51 | August 10, 2020

COVID-19 Focus Funding in the Research Grants Programme

The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates that scientifically based knowledge is essential to the handling of the current pandemic. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has therefore developed COVID-19 Focus Funding, a new funding opportunity designed to enable scientists to address especially urgent research questions requiring rapid answers. These include data collection projects and meta-analyses as well as systematic reviews in topic areas in which the DFG's interdisciplinary Commission for Pandemic Research, which was set up in mid-June 2020, has identified a particular research need. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the Commission for Pandemic Research will issue calls on different topics aimed at all relevant disciplines. Funding may also be used in conjunction with ongoing projects or to prepare subsequent larger-scale projects.

Type of Funding

Individual projects limited to the topic of the relevant call can be supported through Focus Funding (in the form of a research grant) for a maximum period of 12 months. The amount is limited to the funding for staff and direct project costs in the basic module. Unlike proposals for individual projects, in Focus Funding, instrumentation over €10,000 and the modules for Mercator fellows, temporary positions for principal investigators, substitutes, temporary substitutes for clinicians, and project-specific workshops are not eligible for funding.

Support is available for projects of the highest scientific quality that break new scientific ground, promise to deliver a substantial contribution to knowledge on the specific research question of the call and are expected to be completed in a funding period of up to one year. The brevity of the proposal documents and the short funding duration of a maximum of only one year mean that the applicant must have a sound track record – demonstrated for example by past merits (publications, awards, etc.) – and that established research infrastructure and a corresponding repertoire of methods must be available. In all other respects, the normal quality criteria for DFG funding apply.


Proposals can only be submitted within the relevant call topic. To apply for financial support through COVID-19 Focus Funding, applicants must submit a brief proposal containing a description of the scientific project of no more than 5 pages. Detailed information can be found in the proposal instructions and guidelines for COVID-19 Focus Funding. A proposal template is also available.

Researchers based at universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutions and healthcare facilities are equally eligible to submit proposals. As an exception, this funding measure is exempted from the normal duty to cooperate in order to integrate all areas of science in Germany and enable rapid action. In all other respects, the normal eligibility requirements apply.

Focus Funding complements other measures taken by the DFG since March 2020. These measures include publishing pandemic-related calls, opening up current research projects to include COVID-19 aspects and setting up an interdisciplinary Commission for Pandemic Research.

Focus Funding seeks to enable scientific communities to pursue, in a rapid and simplified process, research on current questions in response to the ongoing need for rapid knowledge of the highest quality as a contribution to analysing and overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.

The first Focus Funding call will address the topic “Immunity, Host Susceptibility and Pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Infection” and be published on 10 August 2020 (cf. DFG Information for Researchers No. 52/2020).

Further Information

DFG Information for Researchers No. 52/2020 can be found at:

Focus Funding forms and guidelines:



Elan template: