The aim of the Excellence Strategy is to strengthen Germany’s position as an outstanding place for research in the long term and further improve its international competitiveness. It continues the development of German universities successfully begun with the Excellence Initiative by supporting research of the highest standard, enhancing research profiles, and facilitating cooperation in the research system.
Excellence Commission Approves 57 Clusters of Excellence
(27.09.18) Funding decisions have now been made in Germany’s Excellence Strategy: The Excellence Commission, consisting of the members of the international Committee of Experts and the research ministers of the federal and state governments, approved 57 Clusters of Excellence to be funded from among the 88 proposed projects.
On the basis of the administrative agreement reached by the federal and state governments on 16 June 2016, the DFG and the German Council of Science and Humanities are implementing the Excellence Strategy in two funding lines:
- Clusters of Excellence (EXC) for project-based funding in internationally competitive fields of research at universities or university consortia. The DFG is responsible for developing and implementing this funding line. Proposals are reviewed and decided upon in an academically driven, two-stage competitive process (draft proposals and full proposals). A total of approximately €385 million are available annually for Clusters of Excellence. Final decisions will be made by the Excellence Commission on 27 September 2018. Funding will commence on 1 January 2019.
- Universities of Excellence (EXU) to strengthen universities as individual institutions or as university consortia in the long term and further develop their leading international role on the basis of successful Clusters of Excellence. The German Council of Science and Humanities is responsible for developing and implementing this funding line. A total of approximately €148 million will be available annually for Universities of Excellence. Final decisions will be made by the Excellence Commission on 19 July 2019. Funding will begin on 1 November 2019.
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
Proposals may be submitted by universities and consortia of two, in exceptional cases three applicant universities.
Additional cooperation partners, such as researchers from other universities, non-university research institutions, the private sector and other areas of society, may also participate.
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
The detailed funding criteria are set out in
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 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.
Clusters of Excellence are funded for seven years (1 January 2019 through 31 December 2025). A second funding period of seven years is possible.
Forms and Guidelines
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.
Final decisions will be made in July 2019, with funding to commence on 1 November 2019. A total of approximately €148 million will be available annually for this funding line.
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.
27 September 2018
Funding decision on full proposals for Clusters of Excellence
10 December 2018
Submission deadline for proposals for Universities of Excellence
1 January 2019
Commencement of funding for Clusters of Excellence
January – April 2019
Review of proposals for Universities of Excellence
19 July 2019
Funding decision on proposals for Universities of Excellence
1 November 2019
Commencement of funding for Universities of Excellence
- Externer LinkFull schedule for the Excellence Strategy
Decisions on draft proposals and full proposals in the Excellence Strategy are made by the Committee of Experts and the Excellence Commission.
The Committee of Experts consists of 39 members with proven research track records who represent the entire range of academic disciplines. In addition, they have extensive experience in international settings, in university management, in teaching or in the private sector.
The Chair of the German Council of Science and Humanities and the President of the DFG are non-voting members of the committee and preside over it.
The Excellence Commission consists of the Committee of Experts and the government ministers responsible for research at the federal and state levels.
- 25/26 September 2018
Meeting of the Committee of Experts
- 27 September 2018
Meeting of the Excellence Commission
- 16 – 18 July 2019
Meeting of the Committee of Experts
- 19 July 2019
Meeting of the Excellence Commission
On 27 and 28 September 2017 the Committee of Experts for the Excellence Strategy made its initial decisions in the Excellence Strategy. It chose 88 projects to proceed to the full proposal stage in the Clusters of Excellence funding line. The selection was made from 195 draft proposals, which were submitted to the DFG by 63 universities. The draft proposals were then reviewed by international panels on the basis of research quality criteria.
All 88 invited full proposals were received by the DFG by the 21 February 2018 deadline. They were submitted by 41 universities from 13 German states. Of these proposals, 26 were submitted jointly by at least two universities, including 3 by three universities. Just under half of the projects build on Clusters of Excellence or Graduate Schools that were funded during the previous round of Germany’s Excellence Initiative.
- Link auf PDF-DateiList of Projects Invited to Submit Full Proposals
- Interner LinkPress Release No. 41 | 29 September 2017: "Initial Decisions in Germany’s Excellence Strategy"
- Interner LinkCall for Proposals in the Clusters of Excellence Funding Line
- Externer LinkCall for Proposals in the Universities of Excellence Funding Line (WR) (in German only)
- Externer LinkInformation on the Excellence Strategy from the German Council of Science and Humanities
- Externer LinkInformation on the Excellence Strategy from the Joint Science Conference (GWK) (in German only)
- Externer LinkAdministrative Agreement from 16 June 2016 (in German only)
Contact persons at the DFG and the German Council of Science and Humanities
DFG Head Office
For the overall programme
- Dr. Ulrike Eickhoff
E-mail: Link auf E-Mailulrike.firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Clusters of Excellence funding line
- Dr. Klaus Wehrberger
E-mail: Link auf E-Mailklaus.email@example.com
- Dr. Oliver Wiegner
E-mail: Link auf E-Mailoliver.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Amelie Winkler
E-mail: Link auf E-Mailamelie.email@example.com
German Council of Science and Humanities
- Dr. Inka Spang-Grau
E-mail: Link auf E-Mailspangfirstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the Excellence Strategy will be updated regularly on this site during the course of the programme. For direct access, use our quick link at