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Press Release No. 1 | 12 January 2007
The Second Round of the Excellence Initiative

Thirty-five Universities Invited to Submit Proposals

The Joint Commission for the Excellence Initiative, which is made up of members of the DFG's expert commission and the German Science Council's strategic commission, announced decisions on 305 project proposals at its meeting today. A total of 278 proposals were submitted to the DFG for the first two funding lines, the graduate schools and clusters of excellence. The German Science Council assessed 27 proposals in the third funding line, the institutional strategy to promote top-level research. Following the Joint Commission's decision, the universities listed below are invited to submit full proposals (the numbers given in brackets indicate the number of proposals that each university is invited to submit):


Graduate schools

  • RWTH Aachen University (1)
  • University of Bayreuth (1)
  • Free University of Berlin (2)
  • Humboldt University of Berlin (4)
  • University of Bielefeld (1)
  • Rhineland's Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn (2)
  • University of Bremen (2)
  • University of Cologne (2)
  • University of Constance (2)
  • Darmstadt University of Technology (3)
  • University of Erfurt (1)
  • Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (1)
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main (1)
  • Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg (2)
  • Georg August University of Göttingen (2)
  • Ruprecht-Karl University of Heidelberg (3)
  • Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (2)
  • Christian Albrechts University of Kiel (1)
  • University of Leipzig (1)
  • University of Lübeck (1)
  • Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (3)
  • Technical University of Munich (1)
  • Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster (1)
  • Saarland University (1)
  • University of Stuttgart (2)
  • University of Ulm (1)

Total: 44

Clusters of excellence

  • RWTH Aachen University (1)
  • University of Bayreuth (1)
  • Free University of Berlin (3)
  • Humboldt University of Berlin (2)
  • Technical University of Berlin (2)
  • University of Bielefeld (1)
  • Ruhr University of Bochum (1)
  • University of Bremen (2)
  • University of Cologne (2)
  • Darmstadt University of Technology (1)
  • Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (1)
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main (1)
  • Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg (3)
  • University of Hamburg (1)
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Hannover (2)
  • Ruprecht-Karl University of Heidelberg (3)
  • Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (1)
  • Christian Albrechts University of Kiel (1)
  • University of Leipzig (1)
  • University of Mannheim (1)
  • Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (1)
  • Technical University of Munich (1)
  • Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster (2)
  • University of Paderborn (1)
  • Saarland University (1)
  • University of Stuttgart (1)
  • Eberhard-Karl University of Tübingen (1)
  • Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg in Bavaria (1)

Total: 40

Institutional strategies to promote top-level research

  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Free University of Berlin
  • Humboldt University of Berlin
  • University of Bochum
  • University of Constance
  • Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
  • Georg August University of Göttingen
  • Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg

Total: 8

Both newly submitted draft proposals and proposals from the first round were considered in this second funding round. By the deadline in September 2006 the DFG had received 261 new draft proposals from 70 universities throughout Germany, 118 draft proposals for graduate schools, 123 draft proposals for clusters of excellence and 20 draft proposals for institutional strategies to promote top-level research. In addition, there were 16 proposals for graduate schools, 21 for clusters of excellence and 7 for institutional strategies to promote top-level research, from the first round. The Joint Commission allowed universities whose proposals were not granted funding in the first round to resubmit these proposals for the second round.

The draft proposals in the first two funding lines were reviewed by 27 international peer review panels. The review processes followed the criteria for scientific quality, the principles of interdisciplinarity, international prominence and the integration of regional research capacity, such as non-university research institutions.

The draft proposals in the funding lines for graduate schools and clusters of excellence are fairly evenly distributed between the humanities and social sciences, engineering sciences and life sciences. The natural sciences are slightly underrepresented overall. The humanities and social sciences are significantly better represented than in the first round. They, together with the life sciences, are ahead of the other two disciplines in the competition for graduate schools. Looking at the regional distribution it is noticeable that, in addition to the southern federal states, which were already well represented in the first round, the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin also submitted a large number of proposals for the initiative. For the new federal states, Thuringia and Saxony are well represented.

The selection of applicants for the third funding line is based on a complex process that takes all of the criteria given in the call for proposals into account. In addition to careful examination of the draft proposals, the research performance of the university and its development in recent years, review groups spanning the subject divides were also formed in order to facilitate comparison, and peer expertise was also taken into consideration.

The universities that were invited to submit proposals for the third funding line in the second round of the call for proposals are no longer predominantly located in the south of Germany, but are also located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Berlin. They cover a broad spectrum, ranging from small, highly specialised universities to very large all-round universities. They include technical universities, universities with and without medical schools, universities with a long tradition and very young universities.

Universities wishing to submit proposals for the third funding line faced a very high hurdle. Not only does each university submitting a proposal for this funding line need to meet all of the requirements by having been invited to submit proposals for both of the first two funding lines or having had successful proposals in the first round, but the research performance and the potential for improvement outlined in the draft proposal for the institutional strategy to promote top-level research is also measured against the university's international competitiveness. This means that there are some very good universities that are nevertheless not eligible to submit proposals.

All of the universities that have successfully passed the first stage of the selection process are invited to submit full proposals by 13 April 2007. These proposals will be reviewed over the summer and the final funding decisions will be made by the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee on 19 October 2007.

The programme is envisaged to fund approximately 40 graduate schools, providing one million euros each year for each graduate school on average, and 30 clusters of excellence, which will each receive an average of 6.5 million euros annually, as well as an as yet undecided number of institutional strategies to promote top-level research. A total of 1.9 billion euros has been allocated to funding the Excellence Initiative over a five-year period. In the first round a total of 873 million euros in funding was awarded to 18 graduate schools, 17 clusters of excellence, and 3 institutional strategies. There is thus approximately 1 billion euros left for the second round.

The initiative is also accompanied by the introduction of full economic costing for research in Germany. This means that for each project for which funding is approved, an additional 20% of the amount allocated is granted to cover indirect costs incurred by the research work, such as procurement of equipment, rental costs, etc.

The DFG and the German Science Council anticipate that this programme will make a significant contribution towards improving the quality of research at German universities, thus boosting their international profile significantly.