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Clusters of Excellence Funding Line

The purpose of the Clusters of Excellence funding line is to support projects in internationally competitive research fields at individual universities or university consortia. A total of approximately 385 million euros per year is available for this funding line. Between 45 and 50 clusters may be funded, each receiving 3 to 10 million euros annually. Clusters initially receive funding for seven years, after which they may apply for an extension of another seven years.

The main funding criteria in the Clusters of Excellence funding line are the quality and originality of the proposed research program and the excellence of the participating researchers. Other funding criteria include supporting structures and strategies, such as measures for promoting early-stage researchers or equal opportunity. Finally, the commission also takes into account how well the cluster fits in with developmental planning at the university.

Universities submitting proposals for clusters may also request a university allowance for the purpose of strengthening university governance and the strategic orientation of the institution. However, this university allowance is not available to universities simultaneously receiving funding in the Universities of Excellence line.

Proposals for the Clusters of Excellence funding line are submitted in a two-stage process. The universities begin by submitting draft proposals, which are reviewed by panels with relevant expertise. The results of this review form the basis for a decision by the Committee of Experts at the end of September 2017 on which applicants will be invited to submit full proposals.