Press Release No. 53 | December 7, 2023

DFG Establishes First Ten “Research Impulses” at Universities of Applied Sciences

New funding instrument aims to strengthen the research potential of universities of applied sciences / €49 million in funding for an initial five years / “Added value for the German research landscape” 

For the first time, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will be specifically funding larger-scale research networks at universities of applied sciences (UAS, i.e. HAW – Hochschulen für Angewandte Wissenschaften and FH – Fachhochschulen). At its meeting on 7 December 2023, the Joint Committee of Germany’s largest research funding organisation and central self-governing organisation for science and the humanities took the decision to set up a so-called Research Impulse (RI) at each of a total of ten UAS (HAW and FH). RIs are a new type of collaborative project which will initially be funded for five years from 1 April 2024 with a total of approximately €49 million, with an additional programme allowance for indirect project costs of 22 percent.

“This is a special day for research activity at universities of applied sciences in Germany – and indeed for the DFG, too,” said DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker on the occasion of the first funding approvals. Becker noted that the DFG had developed a comprehensive package of measures over the past two years that was aimed directly at UAS. “The Research Impulses are a central element of these measures. Our aim is to use these to strengthen particularly promising research ideas, thereby helping UAS to build on their research strengths and focus specifically on raising their individual research profiles.”

The projects that have now been approved are the result of the first call for proposals under the RI programme: launched at the end of October 2022, it allowed each UAS to submit one proposal by 1 March 2023. In the months that followed, a total of 69 proposals were reviewed by subject-specific panels. 

Taken together, the future Research Impulses particularly reflect the DFG’s aspiration associated with the call for proposals to place knowledge-driven research at the centre of the research concepts. In a range of different ways, they also embody the very practical nature of applied research and its transfer as a particular strength of UAS: in a number of projects, the work programme will be taken on in close collaboration with regional and local partners from industry and business or with social stakeholders. One of the defining features of these projects is their highly interdisciplinary nature.

In addition to contributing to building a research profile at the institutions in question, the Research Impulses that have now been approved will aim to contribute to establishing new structures, and various forms of institutionalisation are planned at the respective locations for this purpose. The qualification of researchers at early career stages is a particular focus here: this is addressed by means of structured career development programmes and close links to teaching, for example.

Specifically, the following Research Impulses are to be funded at the following UAS (in alphabetical order):

  • at Anhalt University, the Research Impulse Ecosystem and landscape restoration across spatial and temporal scales to enhance biodiversity and climate resilience in agricultural landscapes (AgriRestore) combines expertise from the fields of ecological restoration and biodiversity research, remote sensing and data science and will aim to improve theoretical understanding of the restoration of ecosystems and landscapes, while at the same time developing new methods and techniques for restoration ecology based on innovative experiments in the dry and structurally poor agricultural landscape of Saxony-Anhalt; 
  • at Berlin Hochschule für Technik (BHT), the Research Impulse Berlin Initiative for Applied Foundation Model Research will aim to improve basic scientific understanding and practical optimisation of machine learning systems that are used in the fields of robotics, quantitative biology and predictive medicine so as to be more effective in meeting the challenges posed by demographic change in the world of work and in the diagnosis of diseases and provision of medical care for the population;
  • at the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR Berlin), the Research Impulse HWR Research Competence Centre: Challenges and Resilience of Global Supply and Value Chains brings together researchers from sociology, criminology, security studies, business, economics, politics and law to collaboratively develop new theories, models and methodological approaches to current problems in global supply and value chains and operationalise these for policy-making, science and the humanities, organisations and civil society;
  • the Research Impulse at Bochum University of Applied Sciences entitled A calibrated and virtual multiscale wave measurement laboratory to enhance and complement flow measurements: From basic research to industrial application, will focus on gaining a better understanding of the interactions between fluid flows and ultrasonic waves, for which a transdisciplinary laboratory is to be set up to investigate a wide range of flow scenarios and develop new methods for the ultrasonic measurement of flows, after which the basic scientific insights obtained are to be transferred to measurements and investigations in rivers and lakes, pipelines and drill lines as well as addressing other practical issues in living lab spin-offs; 
  • at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, the Research Impulse CytoTransport – Mechanisms and Modulation of Cellular Transport processes will aim to establish an interdisciplinary research centre for transport mechanisms in cells and their molecular interactions in health and disease, with investigations to be based on several levels of resolution ranging from the atomic and structural level, and membrane transport through ion channels, to transport across the epithelial barriers of the inner and outer body surfaces; 
  • at Esslingen University of Applied Science, the Research Impulse Smart Factory Grids: Methodologies for a service-based, highly flexible, dynamic distributed manufacturing with autonomous, adaptive and resilient systems is based on the future vision of dynamically distributed production, consisting of several specialised production facilities in order to enable highly flexible production of small quantities with short set-up times – something that is particularly important in Baden-Württemberg as an industrial location;
  • at Fulda University of Applied Sciences, the Research Impulse Shaping Future Society (SaFe): The Mutual Constitution of Future-Oriented Practices and Community takes as its starting point the very differing responses to the uncertainties of contemporary society – such as scientific analyses, political decisions and social protests. It will look at the extent to which the actors involved develop alternative ideas of the future and how they draw on future-oriented practices to shape their own future and that of society;  
  • at the University of Applied Sciences Jena, the Research Impulse Tailored Optics for Life Sciences Engineering: Multifunctional, Multiscale, Monololithic Optics for Biomedical Manipulation and Diagnostics (TOOLS) will seek to conduct basic research in the field of optical technologies and biophotonic techniques in order to gain a better understanding of biomedical processes in a clinical environment, whereby interdisciplinary cooperation between the researchers involved and with a partner at the local university hospital will form the core of the project, which will also seek to make an impact on Jena as an internationally recognised business hub in the field of optics and precision mechanics; 
  • at Nuremberg Institute of Technology, the Research Impulse DuraFuelCell: Multi-scale investigation for the development of durable and efficient hydrogen fuel cell systems for mobile and stationary applications will aim to provide an impetus for the implementation of hydrogen fuel cell technology in stationary and heavy-duty commercial vehicle applications. Drawing on an interdisciplinary and networked research approach, the project’s main focus will be on system efficiency and service life – since high expectations are pinned on this technology, these aspects are two of the main challenges involved in its commercialisation;
  • at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, the Research Impulse PA.H| – Performing Arts Health – development and anaLysis of rIsk proFiles and prEdicTIve ModEls by artificial intelligence will involve participants from the fields of musicology, physiotherapy, medicine and computer science who will carry out research into performance-related musculoskeletal disorders in professional musicians with both a scientific and a clinical focus. The aim is to lay the foundations for individually tailored and evidence-based physiotherapy care: without this, practice, performance and ultimately the careers of many sufferers would continue to be significantly impaired.

“We strongly believe these Research Impulses will live up to their name and have a strong and lasting systemic impact at the UAS in receipt of funding,” said DFG President Becker, adding: “Drawing on the particular strengths of the UAS in this way and complementing those of the higher education institutions and non-HEI research institutions will also create significant added value for the German research landscape as a whole.”

Becker concluded by announcing that the DFG would issue its second call for proposals for Research Impulses before the end of this year.

Further information 

For more detailed information on the Research Impulses, see:


Dr. Christine Petry
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