Press Release No. 23 | June 28, 2023

DFG Annual Meeting 2023 in Saarbrücken: “A Sense of Community and Purpose in Pursuit of Research”

Sustainability, AI and other current topics / General Assembly elects President Katja Becker for a second term / 2022 annual report: 31,750 projects receiving €3.9 billion worth of funding

Sustainability, AI and other current topics / General Assembly elects President Katja Becker for a second term / 2022 annual report: 31,750 projects receiving €3.9 billion worth of funding

The annual meeting of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) in Saarbrücken ended on Wednesday. In the course of the three-day gathering, all the central statutory bodies of the largest research funding organisation and central self-governing organisation for science and the humanities in Germany met to discuss current issues relating to research and research funding as well as questions of research policy and the research system. In addition, a number of funding decisions and resolutions were adopted regarding the DFG’s funding activities. The meetings were held in a hybrid format, enabling committee members who were not present on site to attend virtually.

“One of the things these three days have shown is that science and the humanities – and especially knowledge-driven research – are capable of making substantial contributions to addressing current and future global challenges. This means that they, and with them the DFG, already face enormous tasks, and will continue to do so in the future. Nonetheless, we are able to confront these confidently with a sense of community and purpose,” said DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker at the end of the annual meeting.

Previously, Becker was elected for a second term with an overwhelming majority at the final General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon. The first female researcher to hold the position, the 58-year-old biochemist and medical scientist from Gießen has been at the helm of the DFG since 2020; her second four-year term begins on 1 January 2024 (see Press Release No. 22).

Sustainability and AI, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, elections and new member organisations

The subject of sustainability was a dominant issue at the committee meetings held in the course of the annual meeting in Saarbrücken. Recommendations previously drawn up by a Presidential Commission were adopted with the aim of anchoring the notion of ecological sustainability in the DFG’s funding activities. Discussions also focused on the challenges posed by the potential use of ChatGPT and other forms of artificial intelligence in research and research funding. Another topic was the recent expansion of the DFG’s international activities.

Among the funding decisions to be made, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize was of particular importance at this annual meeting, with awards going to seven female and three male researchers. Considered to be Germany’s most outstanding distinction for researchers in the start-up phase of their career, the prize is now firmly integrated in the DFG’s own funding portfolio as of this year, having previously being awarded jointly by the DFG and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); it also offers prizewinners a significantly increased endowment of €200,000, as opposed to the previous amount of €20,000.

In addition to the election of President Katja Becker for a second term, further elections to the DFG Executive Committee were held in Saarbrücken. The General Assembly elected Jena-based art historian Professor Dr. Johannes Grave as a new Vice President and successor to Professor Dr. Julika Griem, who steps down in line with the regular cycle after two terms of office. The two Vice Presidents Professor Dr. Britta Siegmund and Professor Dr. Kerstin Schill were elected for a second four-year term. Four members were newly elected to the Senate, the DFG’s most important scientific body, with nine more members being re-elected for a second term. Finally, two new institutions were admitted to the DFG, which now has a total of 99 member organisations: the Catholic University of Eichstädt-Ingolstadt and the Academy of Sciences and the Humanities in Hamburg.

Total figures for 2022: 31,750 funding projects – some €3.9 billion worth of funding

As the largest research funding organisation in Germany, the DFG funded 31,750 projects last year, providing a total of some €3.9 billion. This emerges from the 2022 Annual Report presented at the concluding General Assembly in Saarbrücken: it contains the main facts, figures and priorities relating to the DFG’s funding activities as well as details of its involvement in issues relating to the research system and research policy. Based on selected funding projects, the report also shows the contribution that knowledge-driven research is capable of making to overcoming current and future crises and challenges.

As in previous years, more than half of all funded projects – 17,698 projects, or 55.7 percent – received individual grants in 2022; a total of some €1.3 billion was approved for these. In terms of Research Training Groups, Collaborative Research Centres and other coordinated programmes, 879 networks with 12,312 individual projects received a total year-based amount of approximately €1.7 billion.

Broken down according to the major research disciplines, the life sciences received the most funding with about €1.4 billion (36.5 percent of the total amount approved), followed by the natural sciences with about €914 million (23.4 percent), the engineering sciences with about €766 million (19.6 percent) and the humanities and social sciences with about €637 million (16.3 percent); projects not assigned to a specific discipline received funding of approximately €164 million (4.2 percent).

Among the subjects of their report on the DFG’s funding activities since the last General Assembly at the end of June 2022 in Freiburg, President Becker and Secretary General Dr. Heide Ahrens addressed the second competition round of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments, which began at the end of last year and for which the DFG is administering the competition under the funding line Clusters of Excellence, and also the first call for proposals under the new “Research Impulses” programme aimed at universities of applied sciences (UAS). Other topics included academic publishing, research assessment and the activities of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany, for which the DFG was the spokesperson organisation in 2022.

Festive event and Communicator Award ceremony

In addition to the committee meetings, two public events were held as part of the Saarbrücken annual meeting. On Tuesday evening, the DFG hosted a festive event in the Ore Shed of the World Cultural Heritage Site at the Völklingen Ironworks. After words of welcome by the DFG President and the Minister of Finance and Science of Saarland, Jakob von Weizsäcker, as well as a political keynote by Secretary of State Professor Dr. Sabine Döring of the BMBF (standing in for Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, who was unable to attend due to other commitments), Katja Becker gave her own keynote speech on the subject of “The Value of Knowledge”, which was followed by a panel discussion on the question “How can we promote knowledge-based decisions?”.

Previously, on Monday evening, sociologist Professor Dr. Steffen Mau was presented with this year’s Communicator Award in the auditorium of Saarbrücken Castle. The researcher from Humboldt University in Berlin received the award with an endowment of €50,000 for his outstanding achievements in communicating subjects such as social inequality and injustice, and also structural change in the middle classes, subjects to which he has introduced expertise and orientational knowledge into sometimes heated public debate. Considered the most important distinction of its kind in Germany, the Communicator Award is conferred jointly by the DFG and Stifterverband.

The 2024 DFG annual meeting is to be held in Potsdam.

Further information

Media contact:

  • Marco Finetti
    Head of Press and Public Relations at the DFG
    Tel. +49 228 885-2109

Notes on media relations:

The DFG previously announced the election of DFG President Katja Becker for a second term of office in a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon:

Further press releases on the General Assembly will follow.

The recommendations for anchoring the notion of sustainability in the DFG’s funding activities will soon be available at; a press release will likewise be issued on this subject.

All press releases on the 2023 annual meeting can also be found in a digital press kit at

Accompanying information is also available on the DFG website at and via social media at

A recording of the speech by DFG President Katja Becker entitled Über den Wert der Erkenntnis [On the Value of Knowledge] will soon be available on the DFG’s YouTube channel at

The 2022 DFG Annual Report is available on request from