Information for Researchers, No. 83 | November 17, 2020

Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Groups in the Field of Artificial Intelligence Methods

Artificial intelligence (AI) methods are increasingly becoming an integral part of the research process in many branches of science and the humanities. Top-level academic research therefore requires research on AI methods themselves. This encompasses the enhancement of AI methods as well as the analysis and review of such methods. As part of the strategic funding initiative in the field of AI, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will first focus on supporting early career researchers in this field. The objective of this call is to recruit the next generation of highly qualified researchers who focus on AI methods by opening up career options with a high level of autonomy at an early stage.

The DFG now invites suitably qualified early career researchers in the field of AI to submit proposals to the Emmy Noether Programme. This call is aimed at individuals from a wide range of disciplines who specialise in the field of AI method development.

Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to use their leadership of an independent junior research group at a university or research institution in Germany over a six-year period combined with qualification-specific teaching assignments to refine their research profile, improve their international visibility and become eligible for a professorship. Projects based on research questions addressing the development or enhancement of AI methods of any kind, as well as the formation of method theories and the analysis and review of AI methods, are eligible for funding. Eligibility also extends to projects in the field of AI methods for model formation, process development and modelling, performance evaluation or architecture. In this context, the term AI methods is very broadly defined and encompasses, but is not limited to, the following topics: machine learning, logic and reasoning, data analytics and data mining, knowledge representation, knowledge-based systems, planning, uncertainty modelling, Bayesian methods, explainability, inference and mathematical/formal description as well as an analysis of the above topics.

Eligibility Requirements

Section 2.1 in the Emmy Noether Programme guidelines, form 50.02 applies in relation to the eligibility requirements.

Postdoctoral researchers, junior professors with temporary contracts in the early stage of their research career and those with temporary “qualification professorships” are eligible to submit proposals.

Proposals can generally be submitted two to four years after completing a doctorate. The regulations in guideline 50.02 apply. In the context of this call, eligibility within the four-year eligibility period is given with submission of the draft proposal. The childcare regulation that came into force on 1 July 2020 applies (see guideline 50.02, section 2.1.4. and the FAQ on the Emmy Noether Programme).

Applicants who have completed their doctorates within the past two years are particularly encouraged to apply so that they can establish themselves in research at an early stage.

The DFG also particularly encourages applications from those involved in international science systems who would like to switch or return to the German system.

Applicants are expected to have an above average doctorate and provide evidence of significant preliminary work in the form of ambitious publications in internationally respected publication outlets or appropriate relevant experience based on industrial research in one of the aforementioned areas. International research experience should be demonstrated by research visits abroad, international research collaborations or an international working environment, for example.

Deadlines and Submission of Proposals

The review process consists of two stages.
In both stages, the review process is based on the standard criteria applicable in the Emmy Noether Programme (see DFG form 10.210).

The first stage of the review process is based on draft proposals of not more than five pages. In the event of a positive review, the applicant will be invited to draw up a full proposal in the standard programme scope and give an oral presentation. The second stage of the review process and the subsequent decision regarding funding are based on the full proposal and the oral presentation.

Draft proposals are to be submitted in English via the elan portal by 3 March 2021. Please follow the instructions on using the elan portal to submit draft proposals under the Emmy Noether Programme.

It should be noted that applicants must be registered on the elan portal. It will not be possible to submit a draft proposal if you have not registered by 17 February 2021. You will generally receive confirmation of your registration by the following working day.

The intended submission deadline for full proposals is 28 July 2021.

Instructions for Draft Proposals

Please follow the “Supplementary Explanation of Draft Proposals for Emmy Noether Groups under the AI Initiative” and the “FAQ on Proposals under the Emmy Noether AI Call”.

Plan of Action

This call for proposals is part of a strategic DFG funding initiative relating to AI. It constitutes the first part of a package of measures to support knowledge-driven basic research in the field of AI. A previous call in the Emmy Noether Programme was made in 2019 and a further call is scheduled for 2021.

The second part of the proposed package of measures includes two calls for proposals and the subsequent funding of Research Units. In this way, the DFG aims to promote collaboration between researchers in the field of AI methods and scientists and scholars in research fields that either use AI methods for the purpose of gaining scientific insights or examining overarching practical and theoretical scientific, epistemic, legal or sociological questions associated with the use of AI.

This interlinking of topics and staff appears to be particularly promising when researchers working at the interface described above play an integral part in the Research Units. There will therefore be a special focus on creating and integrating professorships at the interface between AI methodology development and the respective research field. The first call for proposals was published in 2020. 1.The DFG plans to issue a further call for draft proposals in mid-2021, with a submission deadline tentatively scheduled for the end of spring 2022.

Successful applicants in either of the two funding lines will also be given the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with one another and with other national and international stakeholders in the field at a number of events. Funded projects are expected to present their results within this context.

The DFG intends to establish synergies between the projects it funds as part of the AI initiative and Alexander von Humboldt Professorships, especially those awarded as a contribution towards the German Federal Government’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Further Information

The “Guidelines Emmy Noether-Programme” (form 50.02), the “Proposal Preparation Instructions – Project Proposals” (form 54.01) and the “Guidelines for Reviews in the Emmy Noether Programme” (form 10.210) are available via:

FAQ: Emmy Noether Programme:

Instructions on using the elan portal to submit draft proposals under the Emmy Noether Programme:

Supplementary Explanation of Draft Proposals for Emmy Noether Groups under the AI Initiative:

Extensive information on the artificial intelligence funding initiative:

DFG Programme Contacts:

Research inquiries:

Procedural inquiries: