Excellence Strategy: RWTH to Submit Two New Cluster Proposals


The German Research Foundation and the German Science and Humanities Council have positively evaluated 41 of the 143 draft proposals submitted nationwide. RWTH Aachen University is also entering the next stage of the competition with three existing clusters.


RWTH Aachen University will submit two new cluster proposals in the second phase of the Excellence Strategy. The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Science and Humanities Council (WR) have invited the University and its partners to submit full proposals for the next Excellence Cluster competition. The DFG and WR received a total of 143 new draft proposals from 59 universities from all 16 federal states. 41 draft proposals were evaluated in such a way that the researchers can now submit a full proposal. They come from 37 universities in 13 federal states. Over the past few months, the draft proposals have been reviewed by 21 international panels according to scientific quality criteria.

"The cluster proposals that have now been selected, together with the existing clusters, reflect the strategic orientation of RWTH Aachen University very well," explains Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of RWTH. "The competition was very tough, as the figures show. We are delighted with the result, because we are confident in our ideas and see the added social value of the approaches that our researchers have formulated here. RWTH wants to shape the future, and a successful excellence strategy helps us in making this ambition a reality," continued Rüdiger. RWTH's new applications cover the fields of transformative materials for medicine and climate-friendly construction (application in collaboration with TU Dresden). "On the one hand, the applications document two of our research strengths and, on the other hand, they show that we have already made important progress in implementing our strategy - particularly in strengthening the life sciences," says Professor Rüdiger.

Applicants now have until August 2024 to submit full proposals. The proposal phase is no longer required for the 57 Clusters of Excellence that are already funded nationwide. At RWTH Aachen University, these are the Clusters of Excellence Fuel Science Center (FSC), Matter and Light for Quantum Computing (ML4Q), and Internet of Production (IoP). They have already announced that they will submit a follow-up application. The decision on which Clusters of Excellence will receive funding will be made on May 22, 2025. The successful Clusters of Excellence will be funded for seven years from January 1, 2026 onwards.

In November 2022, the federal and state governments renewed their agreement on the Excellence Strategy in order to continue strengthening universities by promoting scientific excellence, profile building and cooperation in the science system. The Cluster of Excellence competition in the second phase of the Excellence Strategy has been significantly expanded upon and strengthened compared to the first phase. According to a resolution passed by the Joint Science Conference (GWK) in November 2022, up to 70 Clusters of Excellence will be eligible for funding in future, compared to 57 in the current first round. The financial resources earmarked for funding have been increased by the federal and state governments from 385 million euros to 539 million euros per year. The acquisition of at least two clusters of excellence (or three clusters of excellence in the case of university alliances) is also a prerequisite for funding in the second Excellence Universities funding line. Decisions in the Excellence Universities funding line will be made in September 2026, with funding starting on January 1, 2027.