Research Units

A Research Unit is made up of a team of researchers working together on a research project which, in terms of thematic focus, duration and finances, extends beyond the funding options available under the Individual Grants Programme or Priority Programme. Funding for Research Units aims to provide the required personnel and material resources for a medium-term close cooperation, usually designed to last eight years (until 1 October 2018: up to six years). Research Units often contribute to establishing new research directions. Funding opportunities for Research Units are subject to the same principles as research grants.

A research unit consists of various programme modules, weighted and combined in accordance with the respective subject-matter requirements. The funding programme therefore allows the research network to be designed in a relatively flexible way, depending on the respective research question, the research areas involved and the desired structure-creating aspect. Within this framework, research units can provide development opportunities for independent junior research groups, strengthen collaboration with partners outside universities, enable temporary exemption for researchers and intensify international cooperation. Research units can be integrated into overarching research policy initiatives in their various designs. Examples of this are “clinical research units” or “humanities centres for advanced studies”.


Medium-term close cooperation of several outstanding researchers to work on a special research task with the aim of achieving results that clearly go beyond individual grants. Research Units can consist of several modules. The selection of the individual modules is based on subject-specific points of view and may vary depending on the issue in question, the scientific disciplines involved and the desired structure-building aspect.

Eligibility Requirements

Outstanding researchers

Proposal Requirements

Scientific quality and originality of a research project at an international level

Type and Extent of Funding


Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Groups and Heisenberg grant holders may be associated in Research Units.

Funding Duration

In the course of the development of the DFG funding programme, the Joint Committee of the DFG decided at its annual meeting in July 2018 that in the future, Research Units (RUs) can be funded for up to eight years, divided into two funding periods of four years each.

This new regulation applies to draft proposals submitted as of the deadline of 1 October 2018.

For proposals and draft proposals submitted prior to the deadline of 1 October 2018:

in general up to 6 years (up to eight years under certain circumstances).

For draft proposals submitted after the deadline of 1 October 2018: up to 8 years

Forms and Guidelines

New proposals: no submission deadline, draft proposals may be submitted at any time. The submission of a revised draft application is possible once.

Decisions on first-time funding for Research Units are made by the DFG's Senate four times per year.

Renewal proposals: six months before the approved funds are exhausted.

The DFG has a wide range of options to support research groups engaging in international collaboration.

DFG support for collaborative ventures

  • Travel funds and guest funds for foreign cooperation partners as part of the Basic Module
  • Travel funds and, where applicable, remuneration for foreign cooperation partners in connection with the Mercator Fellows module
  • Travel funds for foreign cooperation partners in connection with the Project-Specific Workshops module
  • Funds for project implementation by the foreign cooperation partner under special procedures via transfer of funds on the part of the project management entitled to apply to the DFG (cooperation with the Middle East and with developing countries)
  • By way of an exception, proposals can be submitted directly by the foreign researcher to the DFG if the project abroad makes an important additional contribution to achieving the goals of the research group and adds significant value to the projects planned in Germany.

Support for cooperation provided by foreign partner organisations

For information on the establishment of Research Units, please contact the programme contacts at the DFG Head Office. Please contact them as soon as possible.