This newsletter has often reported on Germany’s excellence initiative (Exzellenzinitiative). This research funding programme is now being continued under the name excellence strategy (Exzellenzstrategie). Two of the three funding lines of the old excellence initiative are being continued: ‘excellence universities’, i.e. conducting world-class research across the whole institution and ‘excellence clusters’, which fund research in one of more disciplines or on a particular theme.
The joint science conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz) is now organising the first call for ‘excellence clusters’ under the new programme. From among 195 pre-proposals, 88 were selected to submit a full proposal by 21 international thematic panels of peers. The target is to select 45 to 50 projects, which are to be funded for two 7-year periods with between € three and ten million 10 million annually. The funding line as a whole is worth € 385 million annually. 75% of the funds are provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The remaining 25% will be contributed by Germany’s states (Länder). Of the preselected 88 proposals, 27% are from the natural sciences, 25% in the humanities and social sciences, 24% in the engineering sciences and another 24% in the life sciences.
International expert panels will evaluate the full proposal in spring 2018. The final decision will be taken by the excellence commission which, next to the panel members also includes the ministers for research at the federal and state levels. It will take its decisions in September of 2018.