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Press Release No. 65 | 19 October 2007
Decisions on the Second Round of the Excellence Initiative Announced

Over One Billion Euros for Top-level Academic Research

Funding decisions for the second round of the Excellence Initiative have been made. Following evaluation and discussion of a total of 92 proposals for the three funding lines by international review panels and the Joint Commission of the German Science Council and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee has awarded funding to 21 graduate schools, 20 clusters of excellence, and six institutional strategies. The decisions were announced in Bonn by Dr. Annette Schavan, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, and, representing the German states, the Berlin Science Senator, Professor Jürgen E. Zöllner, and the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs of Saxony-Anhalt, Professor Jan-Hendrik Olbertz. The President of the DFG, Professor Matthias Kleiner, and the Chairman of the German Science Council, Professor Peter Strohschneider, explained the decision-making procedure and its outcome. Approximately one billion euros have been approved to fund initiatives at 28 universities in this, the second round of the Excellence Initiative.

The following awards were made (universities in alphabetical order by city):

Graduate Schools
University: Name of Graduate School

  • University of Bayreuth: Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies
  • Free University of Berlin: Muslim Cultures and Societies: Unity and Diversity
  • Free University of Berlin: Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies
  • Humboldt University Berlin: Berlin-Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies
  • Humboldt University Berlin: Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences
  • University of Bielefeld: Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology
  • University of Bonn: Bonn-Cologne Graduate School of Physics and Astronomy
  • University of Bremen: Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences
  • Technical University of Darmstadt: Graduate School of Computational Engineering "Beyond Traditional Sciences"
  • University of Göttingen: Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences and Molecular Biosciences
  • University of Heidelberg: Heidelberg Graduate School of Mathematical and Computational Methods for the Sciences
  • University of Heidelberg: The Hartmut Hoffmann-Berling International Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • University of Jena: Jena School for Microbial Communication
  • University of Kiel: Graduate School for Integrated Studies of Human Development in Landscapes
  • University of Konstanz: Konstanz Research School "Chemical Biology"
  • University of Leipzig: Building with Molecules and Nano-Objects
  • University of Lübeck: Graduate School for Computing in Medicine and Life Sciences
  • University of Mainz: Materials Science in Mainz
  • Saarland University: Saarbrücken Graduate School of Computer Science
  • University of Stuttgart: Graduate School for Advanced Manufacturing Engineering
  • University of Ulm: International Graduate School in Molecular Medicine Ulm

Clusters of Excellence
University: Name of Cluster of Excellence

  • RWTH Aachen University: Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass
  • Free University of Berlin: Topoi. The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations
  • Free University of Berlin: Languages of Emotion
  • Humboldt University Berlin: NeuroCure: Towards a Better Outcome of Neurological Disorders
  • Technical University of Berlin: Unifying Concepts in Catalysis
  • University of Bielefeld: Cognitive Interaction Technology
  • University of Bremen: The Ocean in the Earth System
  • University of Cologne: Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases
  • Technical University of Darmstadt: Smart Interfaces: Understanding and Designing Fluid Boundaries
  • University of Erlangen-Nürnberg: Engineering of Advanced Materials - Hierarchical Structure Formation for Functional Devices
  • University of Frankfurt am Main: Formation of Normative Orders
  • University of Freiburg: Centre for Biological Signalling Studies - From Analysis to Synthesis
  • University of Hamburg: Integrated Climate System Analysis and Prediction
  • University of Hannover: Centre for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research
  • University of Heidelberg: Asia and Europe in a Global Context: Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows
  • University of Kiel: Inflammation at Interfaces
  • University of Münster: Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures
  • Saarland University: Multimodal Computing and Interaction
  • University of Stuttgart: Simulation Technology
  • University of Tübingen: CIN - Centre for Integrative Neuroscience

Institutional Strategies to Promote Top-Level Research

  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Free University of Berlin
  • University of Freiburg
  • University of Göttingen
  • University of Heidelberg
  • University of Konstanz

Preparation of the decision:

A total of 305 draft proposals were received last autumn for the three lines of funding in the second round of the Excellence Initiative, including 278 for graduate schools and clusters of excellence as well as 27 for institutional strategies. Following preliminary selection in January 2007, 44 full proposals were then submitted for graduate schools, 40 for clusters of excellence and eight for institutional strategies.

The 84 proposals for graduate schools and clusters of excellence were assigned to 29 specialised panels, reviewed by international groups of experts, and discussed by the Expert Commission appointed by the DFG. There were approximately 320 reviewers, about 80 percent of whom came from abroad and about 20 percent from Germany. Evaluations were based on the criteria of scientific quality, interdisciplinarity, international prominence, and the integration of regional research capacities.

The Strategic Commission appointed by the German Science Council was in charge of the eight institutional strategy proposals. Initially, proposals were reviewed locally by groups of international experts. To be eligible for institutional strategy funding, a university must have been approved for at least one cluster of excellence and one graduate school.

The Joint Commission, made up of members of both the Expert and the Strategic Commission, discussed the proposals and evaluation results. The relevant Grants Committee based its final decisions on the funding recommendations given by the Joint Commission.

The graduate schools and clusters of excellence approved represent an even cross-section of the disciplines, with the strong representation of the humanities and social sciences being particularly welcome.

The Excellence Initiative

The Excellence Initiative to promote top-level science and research at German universities was passed by the Federal Chancellor and the Minister Presidents of the German states in June 2005. The initiative is planned to last for five years. A total of 1.9 billion euros have been earmarked for the promotion of top-level research as part of the Excellence Initiative (2006 to 2011). According to an agreement between the federal and state governments on the benchmark values for the individual lines of funding, each graduate school will receive up to 1 million euros annually, and each cluster of excellence will receive up to 6.5 million euros per year. The third line of funding will provide each institutional strategy with up to 13 million euros a year, although these amounts are only guidelines, as today's decisions once again demonstrate.

The decisions announced today mark the end of the second round of the Excellence Initiative. In the first round, announced last October, a total of 873 million euros in funding was awarded to 18 graduate schools, 17 clusters of excellence, and three institutional strategies.

The Excellence 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.

Further Information

For detailed information regarding the Excellence Initiative and today's decisions, please visit

The President of the DFG, Professor Matthias Kleiner, will be available to answer questions about the Excellence Initiative live in an internet chat session on tagesschau.de on Tuesday, 23 October 2007 from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. For details, please visit