What is the Excellence Initiative?

Oskar von Miller-Turm, Wahrzeichen der TUM auf dem Campus Garching

Organized by the German federal and state governments, the Excellence Initiative aims to strengthen Germany’s research landscape for the long run. Thanks to Excellence Initiative funding, universities can make cutting-edge research projects a reality and raise their profile in the international science community. The program supports activities in research and teaching that will enhance Germany’s overall performance in science and higher education and thus its international competitiveness.

The Excellence Initiative was launched in 2005 and is jointly run by the German Research Foundation and the German Council of Science and Humanities. There are two rounds of funding: 2006/07-2012 and 2012-2017. Total funding for the first-round projects was 1.9 billion euros. The budget for the next five years will amount to 2.7 billion euros.

The Excellence Initiative focuses on three lines of funding: “Graduate Schools," “Clusters of Excellence,” and “Institutional Strategies." The latter provides for the project-related buildup of top-level university research. The title “University of Excellence” is awarded to universities that have successfully established at least one Cluster of Excellence, at least one Graduate School and a promising “Institutional Strategy." 


Number of projects funded for the period 2012-2017:

  • 45 Graduate Schools
  • 43 Clusters of Excellence
  • 11 Institutional Strategies

Overview: map on funding decisions of the German Excellence Initiative (pdf | 602 KB)


Number of projects funded for the period 2006/07-2012:

  • 39 Graduate Schools
  • 37 Clusters of Excellence
  • 9 Institutional Strategies

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