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Information for Researchers No. 29 | 25 May 2020
National Research Data Infrastructure – 2020 Call for Consortia Proposals (Round Two)

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 further NFDI consortia.

Consortia are groups of users and providers of research data that come together for the purpose of long-term cooperation. They may include state-funded and state-recognised higher education institutions, non-university research institutions, departmental research institutions, academies, and other publicly financed information infrastructures. Generally organised by research domain or method, their aim is to improve and safeguard access to and use of research data in their relevant area, thereby contributing to sustainable data management. 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. On the basis of the 30 consortia grants mentioned above, an average of €2.32 million will be available for direct project costs per consortium.

Deadlines and Proposal Submission

Proposals for NFDI consortia can only be submitted within calls. This second of three calls for proposals is now open, with an anticipated funding start of 1 October 2021. Proposals can initially be submitted for a funding period of five years. The third call is expected to be published in 2021.

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 2020, the binding letter of intent serves as advance notification of proposal submission and is required as part of the proposal process. Please note that in this binding letter of intent, all applicant and co-applicant institutions and all participants must be named definitively and in full. It is not possible to make changes or additions at a later date. Applicants who are planning to submit proposals in 2021 should submit non-binding letters of intent; these can then be updated prior to proposal submission in 2021. The binding letters of intent (proposal submission in 2020) and non-binding letters of intent (submission in 2021) must be sent to the DFG Head Office by 15 August 2020 via e-mail to nfdi@dfg.de. Please refer to the document listed below when preparing your binding/non-binding letter of intent.

The deadline for the submission of proposals is 30 September 2020. Proposals must be submitted via the DFG’s elan portal. The entire proposal and review process will take place in English.

Please note that in the 2020 call, as in the previous call, proposals focusing primarily on cross-cutting topics cannot be considered. The high relevance of cross-cutting topics to the functioning and success of the NFDI is beyond question. Such topics, as well as cross-consortium aspects, will be actively addressed in collaborations between the consortia. Note the statement by the NFDI Expert Committee issued in May 2019 in this regard. Additional funding for addressing cross-cutting topics can be requested through other funding programmes, such as those offered by the DFG.

To support the networking process, another NFDI conference is planned. The conference will be held on 8-9 July 2020 as a webinar. The main purpose of NFDI conferences is to share information about all consortia, regardless of their stage of planning or approval, and to facilitate networking amongst them. Further details about the conference can be found in the Information for Researchers No. 30 and on the DFG website.

Further Information

Detailed information on proposal submission, including eligibility requirements, type and scope of funding, the review and decision-making process, 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 submitting the proposal electronically, the applicant institution must send to the DFG a printed and signed copy of the compliance form generated after the proposal is uploaded in elan. This form must be submitted by regular mail by 15 October 2020.

The co-spokespersons and the co-applicant institutions are required to download the NFDI General Compliance Form (DFG form NFDI 130) from the DFG website and print and sign them (one form per co-applicant institution). This form should not be sent to the DFG. The template can be downloaded at:

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

For information on the NFDI conference, visit:


Additional information on the NFDI can be found at:

You can reach a DFG programme contact for questions regarding proposal submission and with regard to the selection process at the following number:

  • Phone: +49 228 885-3500

Alternatively, you can send us your inquiry via e-mail.

For fundamental inquiries about the NFDI, you may also contact:

  • Dr. Ulrike Eickhoff
    phone +49 228 885-2254
  • Dr. Anne Lipp
    phone +49 228 885-2260
  • Dr. Johannes Fournier
    phone +49 228 885-2418
  • Link auf E-Mailnfdi@dfg.de

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