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Clusters at the University of Freiburg

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The University of Freiburg has submitted two full proposals for the “Clusters of Excellence” funding line in the current round of the Excellence Strategy competition. Both proposals were approved by the Excellence Commission on 27 September 2018. The cluster CIBSS – Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies expands on many years of excellent collaborative research and optimal research structures in biological signaling research. It will develop strategies for precisely controlling biological signaling processes, making it possible to translate findings from fundamental research into concrete innovations. The cluster  Living, Adaptive, and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) has set itself the goal of developing bioinspired materials systems capable of adapting to a wide range of environments and supplying themselves with clean energy. It is supported by the Freiburg Center for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies (FIT) and the Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF) at the university as well as the Sustainability Center Freiburg, founded in cooperation with Freiburg’s five Fraunhofer institutes.

The Rectorate called upon all professors at the university to submit their ideas for clusters at the end of 2015. The resulting initiatives received continuous advice and supervision from the Cluster project team, led by Vice President for Research Prof. Dr. Gunther Neuhaus. The team includes members of the University Council and the Senate, as well as further distinguished academics. The university’s governing bodies received regular briefings on this process.

The submitted draft proposals were evaluated from April to September 2017 in a total of 21 international DFB panels with relevant expertise. In September 2017 the Committee of Experts decided on the basis of the expert reports on the submitted draft proposals which initiatives would be invited to submit full proposals. Following the submission of the full proposals on 21 February 2018, the cluster initiatives were evaluated by an international panel of experts, among other things during half-day evaluation meetings from April to July 2018. The main selection criterion for the projects is scientific excellence. Other criteria included research support elements, such as concepts for promoting early-stage researchers. Furthermore, the panel reviewed the university management’s plans for strengthening governance and the strategic orientation of the university as a whole as a basis for granting a university allowance.

The decision on funding was made on 27 September 2018. Funding for Clusters of Excellence begins on 1 January 2019.