Press Release No. 2 | February 7, 2023

146 Letters of Intent for New Clusters of Excellence

DFG President Katja Becker: “Interest among universities remains as high as ever, and the focus is sensible” / Next step: draft proposals by 31 May

DFG President Katja Becker: “Interest among universities remains as high as ever, and the focus is sensible” / Next step: draft proposals by 31 May

Editorial note: In an initial version of this press release, the total number of letters of intent was stated as 145. However, since another letter of intent could only be submitted later for technical reasons, the number was 146. This has been updated here, as has the other information on the applicant universities.

Logo: Exzellenzstrategie des Bundes und der Länder

Under the “Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments”, 146 letters of intent for draft proposals for new Clusters of Excellence were received by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) by the deadline of 1 February.

The 146 letters of intent were submitted by a total of 54 institutions, with 92 letters of intent received from a single applicant university, 40 from two applicant universities and 14 from three applicant universities. This means that interest in joint submissions has increased compared to the first round of calls for proposals in 2016, with the option of submitting a proposal as a three-member group in particular being taken up more frequently. By contrast, no letters of intent were submitted for university consortia comprising more than three applicant universities, though these are also permitted under the new call for proposals.

Following the letters of intent, the universities can now go on to submit fully formulated draft proposals for future Clusters of Excellence to the DFG by 31 May. It is possible that either a smaller or indeed a larger number of draft proposals will be submitted, since the letters of intent are still non-binding and primarily serve to allow planning of the subsequent reviews.

These reviews of the draft proposals by international panels will take place in the form of video conferences between approximately the end of August and mid-November 2023. For the first time, applicants will also have the opportunity to discuss the content of their draft proposals with the review panels.

The decision on who will be invited to submit full proposals will be made on 1 February 2024 by the Committee of Experts for the Excellence Strategy, whose membership is also international. Clusters of Excellence that are already in receipt of funding and wish to submit a renewal proposal are not required to go through the draft proposal phase.

“The 146 letters of intent now submitted are an important indicator that interest in the Excellence Strategy remains as high as ever among universities. Clearly, the universities have also recognised that it makes sense in terms of numbers of proposals and collaborations to focus on what they see as the most promising constellations,” said DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker on receiving the letters of intent, adding: “Since most of the 57 currently funded Clusters of Excellence will certainly submit renewal proposals too, we can expect things to remain highly competitive.”

Further Information

Media contact:

Contact persons at the DFG Head Office:

  • Dr. Christine Petry
    Head of the Excellence Strategy and Research Impulses
    Tel. +49 228 885-2355

For more detailed information on the Excellence Strategy, see also: