National Research Data Infrastructure
The aim of the national research data infrastructure (NFDI) is to systematically manage scientific and research data, provide long-term data storage, backup and accessibility, and network the data both nationally and internationally. The NFDI will bring multiple stakeholders together in a coordinated network of consortia tasked with providing science-driven data services to research communities.
A total of 22 applications for NFDI consortia were received as part of the call for proposals on 15 October 2019. A total of 142 different institutions were involved in the applications. Further calls are planned for 2020 and 2021. You can find statistical overviews of the applications received in 2019 here (in German only):
The NFDI’s programme aims for consortia include:
- Establishment of data handling standards, procedures and guidelines in close collaboration with the community of interest
- Development of cross-disciplinary metadata standards
- Development of reliable and interoperable data management measures and services tailored to the needs of the community of interest
- Increased reusability of existing data, also beyond subject boundaries
- Improved networking and collaboration with partners outside the German academic research system with expertise in research data management
- Involvement in developing and establishing generic, cross-consortia services and standards in research data management together with other consortia
Eligibility Requirements and Cooperation
State-funded and state-recognized higher education institutions, non-university research institutions, departmental research institutions, academies, and publicly financed information infrastructures are eligible for funding.
To be eligible for funding, the institution or facility must either be a German legal entity or one operated by a German legal entity, both of which must comply with non-profit/public-benefit requirements.
Consortia aim to ensure the accessibility and use of research data relevant to their community of interest and their sustainability. To this end, a sound data management strategy must be developed. Existing structures and services should contribute to the NFDI and be integrated in the consortia.
Funding criteria listed in the federal-state agreement of 26 November 2018 include:
- Thematic relevance and quality of the planned measures;
- Expected added value for the development of cross-disciplinary metadata standards and the creation of reliable long-term services in the consortium;
- Establishment of the consortium in the respective scientific community and involvement of the relevant partners;
- Structural importance for the NFDI and the science system;
- Efficiency and sustainability;
- International compatibility;
- Consistent approach to data use and access as well as findability and re-usability of data based on the FAIR principles;
- Operating model which meets the needs of users and suppliers (including reasonable user fees where appropriate).
An overview of the funding criteria including notes can be found at
Type and Extent of Funding
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.
Proposals can initially be submitted for a funding period of five years.
- 8 - 9 July 2020
2nd NFDI conference
- 26 June 2020
First-round funding decision by GWK
- 23-24 March 2020
Meeting of Expert Committee / funding recommendations submitted to GWK
- February 2020
Consortia notified of review results and opportunity to respond
- 25 November – 18 December 2019
Review of first-round proposals
- 8 November 2019
Deadline for submission of NFDI – General Complicance Form
- 15 October 2019
Deadline for submission of proposals
- 4 July 2019
Deadline for submission of binding (for 2019) and non-binding (for 2020 and 2021) letters of intent
- 6 June 2019
Call for proposals
- 13 – 14 May 2019
1st NFDI conference
- 29 March 2019
Deadline for submission of extended abstracts for 1st NFDI conference
The two subsequent selection rounds will be scheduled accordingly. The date of the conference will change to July in the future to allow the newly funded consortia from that year and any non-funded consortia that plan to submit another proposal to attend.
For questions regarding proposal submission and with regard to the selection process, please contact one of our program managers or program directors at the following number. Alternatively, you can send us your inquiry (especially when extensive) via e-mail.
- +49 228 885-3500
- Link auf E-Mailnfdi@dfg.de
Please note the information contained in our
Over a period of three years, starting in 2019, the NFDI will be established as a cooperative network of consortia in three consecutive selection rounds. In each round, new consortia can be added to the NFDI in a research-driven process. The aim is to create a comprehensive framework of interconnected consortia providing a national research data service to the research community. In view of the emphasis on networking, the selection process, which is also the establishment phase of the NFDI, must offer sufficient scope for a process that integrates all stakeholders. The governing bodies of the NFDI (the Directorate, the NFDI Scientific Senate, etc.) will be established gradually, in parallel to the DFG selection process.
The selection process includes consultations, a review process and a comparative evaluation of the proposed consortia, and ends with funding recommendations by the NFDI Expert Committee to the Joint Science Conference (GWK). Funding decisions are made by the GWK.
Networking and Quality Assurance Rather Than Competition
In the selection process for proposed consortia, emphasis will be placed on networking and coordination between consortia and the ongoing development and improvement of proposals during the course of the selection process with a view to achieving an interactive, user-oriented information infrastructure. The consultations and feedback between applicants, reviewers, and the members of the Expert Committee should enable an optimum overall structure on the basis of a uniform quality standard for individual consortia. Precedence is given to the ongoing development and quality assurance as opposed to competition.
Two Phases per Selection Round
To structure the establishment process, each of the three selection rounds is divided into two phases. The first selection round is divided into an initialisation phase and an admission phase, while the second and third rounds are divided into a development phase and an admission phase. The initialisation and development phases precede the admission phases and are intended to facilitate networking, support for the self-organisation of potential consortia, and the planning and adaptation of consortium proposals. The admission phase begins with a call for proposals, includes the submission, review and evaluation of written proposals, and ends with the submission of a funding recommendation to the GWK.
As a first step towards establishing a distributed network of consortia based on a research area or methodology, a joint conference for consortia at all planning stages should be held at the beginning of each selection round. Participation is open to all interested parties, but is not a prerequisite to proposal submission or relevant to the review.
Call for Proposals and the Submission and Review Process
Consortia apply for inclusion in the NFDI by submitting a written proposal. For this purpose, a call for proposals for the current admission phase will be published after the conference. Before submitting proposals, NFDI letters of intent have to be submitted. Current letters of intent – binding for proposal submission in 2019 and non-binding for anticipated proposal submission in 2020 and 2021 - can be accessed under the following link:
The review process involves in-depth exchanges between reviewers and applicants. Presentations by the applicants and ensuing discussions with the reviewers should provide ample opportunity to clarify any open questions – arising from either the written proposal or the oral presentations – and to address potential problems.
As another element of the feedback and quality enhancement process, the consortia will be notified in writing of the review panel’s decision and given the opportunity to respond to the reviewer comments.
Evaluation by NFDI Expert Committee
The Expert Committee will discuss and evaluate all proposals on a comparative basis and with reference to the review and any responses submitted by the applicants.
At its meeting on 6 December 2018, the Joint Committee of the DFG selected the members of the NFDI Expert Committee, which is tasked with the process of selecting the NFDI consortia. The committee’s main responsibilities are to evaluate proposals on the basis of a review of scientific, information technology, and structural considerations and to formulate funding recommendations for the GWK.
The committee is composed of experts in various branches of science and the humanities who have extensive experience of working abroad, in research management, in scientific infrastructure facilities or in industry.
Observations by the NFDI Expert Committee on planning NFDI consortia, published in follow-up to the May conference and currently available in German only, can be accessed at:
Inquiries about the NFDI Expert Committee
- Dr. Matthias Katerbow
Phone: +49 228 885-2358
The DFG and the Joint Science Conference (GWK) are collaborating on the NFDI programme in accordance with the Agreement between the Federal Government and the Länder concerning the Establishment and Funding of a National Research Data Infrastructure of 26 November 2018. The DFG is responsible for the research-driven review and evaluation of the consortia proposals. The GWK makes decisions on the basis of funding recommendations by the DFG. To be eligible for funding within the NFDI framework, consortia must have received a positive review during the review process.
Within the NFDI framework, the consortia, the Consortia Assembly, the Scientific Senate and the Directorate will work together:
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-recognized 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.
Each consortium is represented by a spokesperson. The spokespersons of the consortia make up the Consortia Assembly, the central research body of the NFDI. The Consortia Assembly makes all research, operational and service-related decisions on behalf of the NFDI consortia and the NFDI and decides on the introduction of cross-disciplinary procedures, services and/or standards relating to the NFDI within the scope of the principles approved by the NFDI Scientific Senate.
The Scientific Senate is the central strategic body of the NFDI. It advises the GWK on all fundamental matters relating to the ongoing development of the national research data infrastructure and ensures that the NFDI connects smoothly with national and international developments.
The Directorate consists of a full-time director and a managing office. The Directorate will be hosted by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure (FIZ Karlsruhe). It is appointed for a set term. The Directorate recommends courses of action for consideration by the Consortia Assembly and the Scientific Senate, effects the necessary decisions in these bodies and serves as the external representative of the NFDI. The Directorate ensures that cross-disciplinary topics, such as education, data protection and data ethics, are adequately discussed, communicated and coordinated among the NFDI consortia.
A workshop on governance of the NFDI was held at the DFG Head Office in Bonn on 30 August 2019. The workshop focused on questions concerning the constitution of the consortia, the interaction of the individual structural elements in the NFDI, and specific questions concerning the submission of proposals. The workshop format will be repeated if required. The minutes of the workshop of 30 August 2019 can be found here:
- Press Release of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure: Externer Link“Directorate of National Research Data Infrastructure Will Be Located in Karlsruhe“. June 2019
- DFG Information for Researchers Interner Link„National Research Data Infrastructure – 2019 Call for Consortia Proposals“ , June 2019
- DFG Press Release Interner Link“Successful Kick-off for Germany’s National Research Data Infrastructure” , May 2019
- DFG Information for Researchers Interner Link“National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI)” , February 2019
- DFG Press Release Interner Link"NFDI: DFG to Coordinate Selection and Evaluation of Consortia”
- Press Release of the Joint Science Conference (GWK):
Externer LinkForschungsdaten nachhaltig sichern und nutzbar machen – Startschuss für eine Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur (in German only), November 2018
- Link auf PDF-DateiAgreement between the Federal Government and the Länder concerning the Establishment and Funding of a National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) ,
26 November 2018
- Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany
- German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII)
- Externer LinkDiscussion paper: “Wide Impact for Research: NFDI Consortia as Stakeholders”. December 2018
- Externer LinkDiscussion paper: “Zusammenarbeit als Chance” (in German only), March 2018
- Externer LinkDiscussion paper: “Schritt für Schritt – Oder: Was bringt wer mit?”
(in German only), April 2017
- Externer LinkRecommendations: “Enhancing Research Data Management: Performance Through Diversity” , May 2016
Additional information about the NFDI will be published on this site during the course of the programme. For quick access please use the URL: