Logo: Excellence Strategy

Programme Information – Clusters of Excellence (EXC) and Universities of Excellence (EXU)

Clusters of Excellence


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.

Eligibility Requirements and Cooperation

Draft proposals can be submitted by an individual university as well as by a university consortium.

Additional cooperation partners, such as researchers from other universities, non-university research institutions, the private sector and other areas of society, may also participate.

Proposal Requirements

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 direct project funds.

Universities with Clusters of Excellence can also apply for a university allowance, to be seen as an additional strategy allowance, amounting to €1 million per year. Institutions that are successful under the Universities of Excellence funding line may only receive the university allowance until such funding begins. If several Clusters of Excellence are funded at a university, the allowance amounts to an annual sum of 1 Mio. Euro für the first, 750,000 Euros for the second, and 500,000 Euro for each additional Cluster of Excellence.

Funding Duration

Clusters of Excellence can be funded for up to two periods of seven years each. In case of a Cluster of Excellence’s renewal proposal being unsuccessful, completion funding will be awarded for up to wo years.

Forms and Guidelines

Universities of Excellence

The purpose of the Universities of Excellence funding line is to strengthen either a university as a single institution or a consortium of universities (University Excellence Consortium) in the long term on the basis of sustained, joint strategic objectives in a long-lasting collaboration and to develop its international leading position in research based on successful Clusters of Excellence.

A total of 148 Mio. Euro annually are allocated for up to 11 Universites of Excellence or University Consortia of Excellence. In the second funding period, up to four new universities or consortia may be funded.

The German Council of Science and Humanities is responsible for developing and implementing this funding line. Universities of Excellence and University Excellence Consortia will be subject to an independent external evaluation every seven years.