Jump to main navigation Skip to Content

DFG Logo: back to Homepage Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology

Scientific instrumentation and equipment can be applied for in several of the DFG's funding programmes. In addition, major instrumentation for research at universities can be co-financed by the DFG (50%) and state-funded instrumentation for training, teaching and medical care may be reviewed by the DFG. Proposals for major research instrumentation are reviewed according to technical and scientific criteria. Additional information on particular equipment categories and infrastructure measures are also available.

Major Research Instrumentation Programme

Purpose of Funding

As part of the “Major Research Instrumentation” funding programme as defined in Art. 91b of the Basic Law, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is providing investment finance for proportional (50%) funding of major research instrumentation at universities. The basis is the implementation agreement on research buildings at universities, major instrumentation and national high-performance computing (AV-FGH), approved by the Joint Science Conference (GWK).

Investment projects for university research must be of particular scientific quality and have cross-regional significance. The instrumentation must be intended for use predominantly in research. In other words, the need for its procurement and use must be motivated solely by research purposes. The instrumentation is also permitted to be used in teaching and/or patient care. These areas will not be considered in the assessment of need.

Application requirements

  1. Proposals may be submitted by government-funded universities and non-government-funded universities with institutional accreditation.
  2. Major instrumentation proposals with costs below €7.500.000 may be submitted at any time. They will be presented to the DFG in accordance with the relevant state legislation. Provision of 50% co-financing by the federal state or university is required. Please note that different regulations apply for instrumentation with costs of €7.500.000 or more (both DFG and Wissenschaftsrat head offices can provide more information on request).
  3. The university appoints a person to be responsible for the proposal. This person produces the proposal and submits it electronically via the elan portal. He or she then receives an acknowledgement of receipt. The responsible person must sign this acknowledgement of receipt and then forward it to the applicable offices within the university administration. The fully completed acknowledgement of receipt is sent back to the DFG. On receipt of the returned acknowledgement, the DFG will commence the review process.

Type and Extent of Funding

Major instrumentation is the sum of the components, including accessories, that form an operational unit for the intended application. A clear relationship should exist between the base unit (including software) and its accessories – which can include methodological and measurement-related expansions or supplements that are not directly required for operation.

The instrumentation must cost over €100,000 for universities of applied science and over €200,000 for other universities.

State Funded Major Instrumentation

Purpose of Funding

Under this programme, major instrumentation is procured for German universities and university clinics and financed by the states/universities. The DFG is commissioned by the states to review proposals for major instruments that are to be used for research, teaching and training, or for medical care. The funds can serve this purpose either directly or indirectly. Thus, major instrumentation also includes IT systems for computing centres, university libraries, and administrative systems at universities and clinics.

Eligibility Requirements

1. German public universities and university hospitals are eligible to apply.

2. Proposals for major instrumentation, which can be submitted at any time, are sent to the DFG by the state/university in accordance with the respective state guidelines. The state and/or university must guarantee financing.

3. Instrumentation must exceed €200,000 for universities and €100,000 for all other higher education institutions. The thresholds applicable in Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland are €125,000 for universities and €75,000 for all other higher education institutions.

Instrumentation Proposal Criteria

1. Major instrumentation is the sum of the components, including accessories, that form an operational unit for the intended application. A clear relationship should exist between the base unit (including software) and its accessories – which can include methodological and measurement-related expansions or supplements that are not directly required for operation. Building measures are not considered part of the equipment.

2. Proposals for upgrades or supplements will be reviewed if the individual items exceed the minimum limits.

3. Overall concepts for IT will be considered if they include specific purchasing measures.

4. Proposals for individual workplace PCs will be considered.

Further Information

Please refer to the following for more information (available in German only)

Major Instrumentation in Research Buildings

State and federal government can jointly finance research buildings at universities according to Art. 91b GG.

Proposals for the financing of research buildings are submitted to the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) within the frame of so called funding phases. Based on an assessment, the Council makes recommendations to the Joint Science Conference (GWK) on the individual proposals. The GWK decides annually about the acceptance of the project into the joint funding.

Up to funding phase 2020, instrumentation contained in a funded research building needs to be approved by DFG before procurement. A proposal on Major Instrumentation in Research buildings has to be submitted. The DFG assesses and evaluates these proposals and provides a respective recommendation.

The financial processing of research buildings including recommended instrumentation is negotiated between the federal government and the respective state.

Equipment in DFG Programmes

The DFG provides funding for scientific instrumentation that is essential to carry out special research projects and is not included in the core support available at the respective institute. Each year, the DFG receives several hundred proposals for research grants that include equipment requests. In addition to demonstrating the scientific necessity of the item in question, the applicant must ensure that the institution is willing and prepared to create the necessary conditions for installation and operation of the equipment. Within this framework, there is no programme that enables applicants to request equipment only.

Major Instrumentation in Research Grant Proposals

In conjunction with its research grants, the DFG defines equipment with a gross purchase price of € 50,000 or higher as major instrumentation. Proposals that include such instrumentation pass through the standard review process used in the relevant funding programme. If assessed favourably, the proposals are then discussed by the Committee on Scientific Instrumentation or the Commission on IT Infrastructure regarding the methodological and technical aspects of the equipment. The final decision is made by the DFG's Joint Committee.


Purchasing of Research Equipment

All equipment purchase orders exceeding € 10,000 are issued by the DFG's Central Purchasing Office in conjunction with the applicant. The equipment is either provided on loan to the researcher or ownership is transferred to the academic institution for the purpose of carrying out the researcher's project. Researchers may take the equipment with them when changing affiliations.

Repair of Equipment on Loan

Researchers who obtain equipment on loan may additionally apply for funding to pay for major repairs which are not considered part of the routine maintenance costs. Proposals must be approved before the repair work can be commissioned. Smaller repairs may be funded by redirecting research grants, subject to prior approval by the DFG. Approval is not required for repairs costing less than € 600.

Major Instrumentation Initiatives

In the context of major instrumentation initiatives it is possible to apply for expensive major equipment with outstanding, innovative technology and the goal of promoting particular scientific and technical issues.

Ideas and suggestions for the establishment of a major instrumentation initiative come from the research community and are submitted in the form of structured concepts. A concept provides justification as to why the DFG should fund a particular technology in the framework of a major instrumentation initiative. It explains the importance of the proposed instrument technology for knowledge-driven research and defines the target group within the research community. A concept describes the extent to which this technology is distinct from currently available technologies and instruments and explains the particular relevance, originality and topicality of research that would be made possible through a major instrumentation initiative.

The concept for a major instrumentation initiative comprises a PDF document of no more than ten pages, which must be based on the template below:

Supplementary and supporting letters (e.g. from researchers, university leaderships, learned societies or companies) can be combined in a second PDF document. The person responsible for the suggestion submits the concept documents (max. 10 MB) by e-mail to wgi@dfg.de.

The DFG’s statutory bodies regularly make decisions on the issuing of calls for and the implementation of major instrumentation initiatives on the basis of submitted concepts. If a suggestion for a major instrumentation initiative is selected for implementation, the DFG issues a call for proposals. All eligible universities can then submit proposals for funding of the corresponding major instrumentation in accordance with the specific guidelines of the call. Proposals received for an initiative are then jointly reviewed and decided upon.

Core Facilities

Access to advanced instrumentation technologies plays an important role in many branches of science. The shared use of these resources – for example in core facilities – can ensure effective capacity utilisation and deliver beneficial research services.

The Core Facilities funding programme focuses on usage and management concepts that promote professionalisation of the operation and management of core facilities and support the development of stable structures for the use of these facilities. The aim of the programme is to deliver improved facilities for users and better accessibility of instrumentation-based research infrastructures, including for external researchers from other institutions.

The applicant is formally the university, which appoints a person to be responsible for the proposal. This person acts as the research coordinator. The applicant university must be willing to support the facility financially with funding for staff and direct project costs and to continue operating it after the funding comes to an end. The maximum funding duration for a core facility is five years. For this period, universities can normally apply for up to €150,000 per year.

Note: Funding for the acquisition of major instrumentation is not available in this programme, as this is covered by other programmes (e.g. the Major Research Instrumentation Programme as per Art. 91b of the Basic Law and the State-Funded Major Instrumentation Programme).

New Instrumentation for Research

The aim of the programme ‘New Instrumentation for Research’ is to fund the development of completely novel instrumentation for use in basic research, with a special focus on interdisciplinary projects. By funding the development and construction of new instrumentation in one field for use in another, it is intended that novel solutions will be trialled across disciplines.

Note: Funding for the acquisition of major instrumentation is not available in this programme, as this is covered by other programmes (e.g. the Major Research Instrumentation Programme as per Art. 91b of the Basic Law and the State-Funded Major Instrumentation Programme).

Proposals can be submitted via the DFG's elan portal in accordance with the Interner Linkform 21.6.

Other funding programmes

Funding for roundtable discussions:

Roundtable discussions can be funded in all funding areas of the “Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology” division; for example, for strategic planning and national cooperations in the form of self-organisation processes for the communities and for the further development of funding measures.

Funding for instrumentation technology-related networks:

Networks provide researchers with an opportunity for multi-location exchanges on an instrumentation-related subject of their choosing. The focus for the content of the exchange must be on the technological aspect of the instrumentation in question. The result should be the generation of impetus for improved application and further development of instrumentation methods.

Funding can cover expenses such as travel and maintenance costs for work meetings of network members as well as other costs, for instance coordination support.

Further information on these two funding programmes can be obtained from the contact person for the relevant subject area at the Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology division.


Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology Division
Major Instrumentation Programmes

Policy Issues

Contacts according to key aspects / responsibilities

Central Purchasing Office
Purchasing of scientific instrumentation for DFG programmes / Instrumentation on loan – General Information

Purchasing of scientific instrumentation

Instrumentation Category Key

Loans Administration

Automobiles on loan