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Excellence Initiative for cutting-edge research

Excellence Initiative 2012-2017 (Copyright: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)

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.

Objectives of the Excellence Initiative:

  • Support of top-class university research and a better international visibility
  • Creating outstanding conditions for junior scientists
  • Intensifying the cooperation between disciplines and institutions
  • Strengthen the international research network
  • Developing the scientific competition and expanding the quality of Germany's scientific position


The three funding lines of the Excellence Initiative:

  • Graduate Schools
  • Clusters of Excellence
  • Institutional Strategies


Clusters of Excellence in Munich:

Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics (MAP)

Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy)

Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM)

Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM)

Origin and Structure of the Universe – The Cluster of Excellence for Fundamental Physics (Universe)


German Research Foundation (DFG)

Science Council

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Comprehensive view of all funded institutions

Excellence Agreement of the German Research Foundation