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Information for Researchers No. 37 | 6 June 2019
National Research Data Infrastructure – 2019 Call for Consortia Proposals

The German federal and state governments reached an agreement in November 2018 to establish a national research data infrastructure (NFDI). Based on a research-driven process, the NFDI aims to systematically manage research data collections, provide long-term data storage, backup and accessibility, and network the data both nationally and internationally in accordance with the FAIR principles. With this call, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) invites proposals for NFDI consortia.

Research data increasingly play a key role in science and the humanities, particularly in conjunction with the digital turn. This is especially true with regard to the empirical sciences. Today, a steady and rapid increase in research data can be observed across all disciplines. Depending on the topic or question to be addressed, a research project may access and use very large amounts of existing data. At the same time, research projects produce ever-growing volumes of data, which constitute an important part of project findings. The long-term preservation and provision of quality-assured research data improves the quality and reproducibility of research findings and provides opportunities to further enhance research and innovation. Researchers and institutions are tasked with designing standards, interoperable services, and reliable, user-friendly, and secure infrastructure to enable the diverse handling of data and their accessibility and (re-)use in academic research.

Within the NFDI, the consortia – in which users collaborate closely with information infrastructure facilities – assume an important role. As the essential component of the NFDI, consortia serve to ensure that the services and structures necessary to use and manage research data, including those currently available or yet to be developed, are viable and in line with the subject-specific and/or methodical needs of the research community. In doing so, consortia work in close cooperation with their communities to develop or expand relevant infrastructure and engage in cross-consortia dialogue about how generic services, cross-disciplinary standards, and interoperability can be specified, developed, and implemented within the NFDI. In this way, consortia stimulate data-based knowledge processes and support the research process. Formal collaboration among consortia will be provided for through the establishment of a Consortia Assembly.

Detailed information on NFDI consortia can be found in a discussion paper published by the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII) entitled “Wide Impact for Research: NFDI Consortia as Stakeholders. Third discussion paper on the development of a national research data infrastructure (NFDI) in Germany”.

The German federal and state governments envisage funding up to 30 consortia. A total of up to €85 million is available per year to fund the consortia in the final development phase; this amount includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. The amount available to fund direct project costs thus totals approximately €70 million annually. As a rule, an individual consortium may receive between €2 million and €5 million, which includes the programme allowance for indirect project costs and €1.6 million to €3.9 million for direct project costs.

Deadlines and Proposal Submission

Proposals for NFDI consortia can only be submitted within calls. Three rounds of calls are planned over three consecutive years (2019, 2020, and 2021). The 2019 call for proposals is now open, with an anticipated funding start of 1 October 2020. Proposals can initially be submitted for a funding period of five years.

To support the collaborative networking process that is essential to establishing the NFDI’s cooperative framework, all applicants must submit letters of intent, which will be published on the DFG’s website. For applicants who are planning to submit a proposal in 2019, the binding letter of intent serves as advance notification of proposal submission and is required as part of the proposal process. Applicants who are planning to submit proposals in 2020 or 2021, should submit non-binding letters of intent; these can then be updated at the same time the proposal is submitted. The binding letters of intent (advance notifications for 2019) and non-binding letters of intent (2020 and 2021) must be sent to the DFG Head Office by 4 July 2019 via e-mail to nfdi@dfg.de. Please refer to the document listed below when preparing your binding/non-binding letter of intent.

NFDI proposals for 2019 must be submitted to the DFG Head Office in PDF format via the DFG’s data exchange portal by 15 October 2019. Following submission of the binding letter of intent, the consortium spokesperson will receive a link to upload the proposal.

For the first call, only proposals focusing on a research domain or research method will be considered.

Further Information

Following the first NFDI conference, the NFDI Expert Committee issued a statement, which can be found at:

Please note that the proposal and review process will be conducted in English.

Detailed information on proposal submission, including eligibility requirements, type and scope of funding, etc., can be found in the NFDI programme guidelines:

A list of funding criteria for NFDI consortia, supplemented by short explanatory notes, can be found at:

For information on preparing your binding/non-binding letter of intent see:

Detailed instructions on preparing your NFDI consortium proposal and a proposal template can be found in the document listed below. Proposals are to be structured according to the template provided:

In addition to the proposals, applicants must submit signed copies of the NFDI General Compliance Form. Original signatures must be provided by the heads of all (co-) applicant institutions and by the consortium’s spokesperson/co-spokespersons. All compliance forms with original signatures must be sent by mail to the DFG Head Office by 8 November 2019:

For more information on the programme and to download the documents listed above, visit:

Additional information on the NFDI can be found on the website of the Joint Science Conference:

The discussion paper by the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII) “Wide Impact for Research: NFDI Consortia as Stakeholders. Third discussion paper on the development of a national research data infra-structure (NFDI) in Germany” can be found at:

DFG Contacts:

For information and advice concerning individual consortia, please contact us at
+49 228 885-3500 or send us your inquiry via e-mail to:

Fundamental inquiries about the NFDI:


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