Institutional Strategy II


RWTH 2020: Meeting Global Challenges. The Integrated Interdisciplinary University of Technology

Researcher in a lab Copyright: © Peter Winandy

Institutional Strategy II aimed to achieve two major objectives: making a substantial contribution to top-level research in Germany and participating in the global competition among universities. To this end, RWTH sought to fully exploit its research potential and meet the complex challenges of the future with holistic research strategies.


In 2012, RWTH sought to complete what was successfully initiated by the Institutional Strategy I from 2007.

The achievements of the first funding period of the Excellence Initiative provided the foundation for RWTH's transformation into an Integrated Interdisciplinary University of Technology.


To reach this goal, four measures were defined in Institutional Strategy II:



Measure 1 – Internationally Recognized Scientific Profile

RWTH advanced its internationally recognized scientific profile by leveraging the strength of its core competencies in the engineering and natural sciences. In the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences, the successful Dean's Seed Fund was continued, thereby implementing new faculty-specific research topics, providing outstanding professors with much research freedom through the use of extensive research funds in "Distinguished Professorships”, and continuing to involve students in research at an early stage with the Undergraduate Funds.

With the project centers Human Technology Center – HumTec, Interdisciplinary Management Factory – IMF, and the Integrated Interdisciplinary Institute of Technology for Medicine – I³TM, a decisive step was taken towards the integration of the humanities, social sciences, economics, and medicine in order to address issues of high scientific, technological, and social relevance.

The Exploratory Research Space, ERS for short, continued to support this interdisciplinary collaboration between the faculties with numerous ERS Speed Projects, Seed Funds, and Boost Funds on new research topics.
At the Center for Molecular Transformations – CMT, the Chairs of Chemistry, Biology, and Chemical Engineering were supported in the acquisition and execution of large collaborative projects.

Measure 2 – JARA: Focusing Competences – Shaping the Future

The Jülich Aachen Research Alliance – JARA, between RWTH and Forschungszentrum Jülich – FZJ, continued the strategic cooperation that acts as a role model for uniting program and discipline-based research in Germany.

In addition to the JARA sections BRAIN, FIT, HPC ,and ENERGY, which had already been established in Institutional Strategy I, FAME and SOFT initiated two new research areas in JARA. Meanwhile, the established sections BRAIN and FIT were able to intensify the cooperation between RWTH and FZJ in two different JARA institutes.

Measure 3 – Place to Be

RWTH would like to be deemed a place to be – a place where research and teaching at the highest level support university staff from all areas in developing their full potential.

With the help of the Diversity Funds, numerous doctoral positions were awarded to graduates from diverse backgrounds. Further, re-entry positions ensured a quick return for young researchers following parental leave. Moreover, further support in child care was established with an additional under 3 group being formed.

RWTH offered project-related start-up funding for young researchers and highly experienced professors were able to acquire funding as RWTH Fellows. Several RWTH lecturers were also awarded with the accolade of RWTH Lecturer for their outstanding achievements in combining research and teaching.

The aim of the Recruitment Strategy measure was to strengthen RWTH's international competitiveness by attracting and connecting exceptional researchers. It particular focused on promoting gender equality and internationalization as well as supporting rapid integration at RWTH and in the city of Aachen.

Measure 4 – Corporate Governance and Structures

In the second phase of the Excellence Initiative, the successful management structures from the first phase, for example faculty management, Strategy Council were strengthened and supplemented by the profile areas and the Strategy Fund. This expanded RWTH’s continuous development into an integrated university that is significant on a global scale.

With the help of the Strategy Fund, numerous outstanding and internationally visible professors could be appointed and connected to RWTH. In addition, new research areas were opened up thanks to the establishment of a total of 13 new and primarily interdisciplinary project and competence centers.

Another catalyst for interdisciplinary cooperation were the profile areas. Eight different profile areas focusing on scientific expertise in RWTH’s major research fields and able to tackle global challenges were identified when applying for Institutional Strategy II. At least four different faculties are represented in each profile area, as is Forschungszentrum Jülich to a certain extent.

Another important innovation from Institutional Strategy II was the establishment of the so-called Female Recruitment Fund. 30 percent of the ERS Seed Funds or RWTH start-ups was designated for female researchers. Any unused resources from these funds flowed directly into the Female Recruitment Fund. These collected funds were ultimately used in appointment negotiations with female professors.

The funding period of Institutional Strategy II ended on October 31, 2017. All Graduate Schools, Clusters of Excellence, and Institutional Strategies that were funded in the Excellence Initiative on the basis of Excellence Agreement II received bridging funding limited to a maximum of 24 months from November 1, 2017. The RWTH used this bridging funding to continue core elements of Institutional Strategy II and prepare the University for possible funding in the new Excellence Strategy with new incentives.