According to the funding decisions for the third and final round of the Excellence Initiative, the Grants Commitee selected a total of 39 universities from 13 Länder in June 2012: 45 graduate schools and 43 clusters of excellence made it through the science-based selection process, while the institutional strategies of the LMU München, TU München, FU Berlin, HU Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Köln, Konstanz, Heidelberg, RWTH Aachen, and Tübingen won over the Commitee in the third funding line.
Assessing the applicants was no easy task with such a high quality of submitted proposals. Based on the expert assessments of more than 550 scientists and researchers with international experience, the Joint Commission of the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the German Council of Science and Humanities convened to recommend a list of projects worthy of funding, which were then discussed in an objective and constructive atmosphere by the Grants Committee. Fierce competition between many outstanding projects meant that not all projects with strong evaluations succeeded. Funding for the selected projects began in November 2012 and will continue over the course of five years.
On 4 June 2009, the Federal Chancellor and the Minister-Presidents of the Länder had already signed an agreement on a continuation of the Excellence Initiative. In order to give new applications and follow-up applications from the first two rounds an equal chance, the funding volume was increased to approximately 2.7 billion euros until 2017. With the continuation of the Excellence Initiative, the Federal and State Governments want to lastingly strengthen Germany as a science and research location, improve Germany's international competitiveness, and make cutting edge research at German institutions of higher education visible. With this continuation, innovative concepts for research-oriented instruction will be considered for the first time as part of the assessment of institutional strategies.
The Excellence Initiative aims to promote top-level research and to improve the quality of German universities and research institutions in general, thus making Germany a more attractive research location, making it more internationally competitive and focussing attention on the outstanding achievements of Germany universities and the German scientific community.