Establishing a National Research Data Infrastructure – NFDI

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Was ist die NFDI?

The aim of the national research data infrastructure (NFDI) is to systematically manage scientific and research data, provide long-term data storage, backup and accessibility, and integrate the data both nationally and internationally. The NFDI will bring multiple stakeholders together in a coordinated network of consortia tasked with providing science-driven data services to research communities.

DFG – German Research Foundation



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According to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the goals of the NFDI can be summarized as follows:

The NFDI seeks

  • to improve the access to research data systematically and in the long term
  • to tap and secure decentralized, project-based, temporarily stored data inventories
  • to create a comprehensive, integrated structure of interconnected consortia
  • to bring together providers and users
  • to develop standard for an interopable research data management
  • to create a common basis for research data in terms of data protection, sovereignty, integrity and quality
  • to develop service offerings
  • to ensure international competitiveness


In 2016, the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures proposed to establish a national research data infrastructure. In November 2018, the German federal and state government followed suit and decided to set up such an infrastructure.

Between 2019 and 2028, up to 90 million euros annually are provided for the initiative. Most of the funding is earmarked for the activities of up to 30 consortia, which are tasked with providing science-driven data services to research communities. The consortia are alliances of universities, non-university and government-funded research institutions, academies, and publicly funded information infrastructure organizations. In total, there will be three rounds of calls for consortial proposals, to be held at various points during the project period.

In May 2019, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology announced the Joint Science Conference’s decision to locate the NFDI directorate in Karlsruhe. In March 2020, Professor York Sure-Vetter was appointed director of the NFDI.

Corsortia Selected to Receive Funding

On June 26, 2020, in the first round of calls, nine consortia were selected for funding.

RWTH will receive funding as the main applicant in the NFDI4Ing consortium and as a co-applicant in the NDFI4Cat and NFDI4Chem consortia.

  • NFDI4Culture – Consortium for Research Data on Material and Immaterial Cultural Heritage (Humanities)
  • KonsortSWD – Consortium proposal for the Social, Behavioural, Educational, and Economic Sciences (Social Sciences)
  • GHGA – The German Human Genome-Phenome Archive (Medicine)
  • NFDI4Health – National Research Data Infrastructure for Personal Health Data (Medicine)
  • DataPLANT – Fundamental Plant Research (Biology)
  • NFDI4BioDiversität – Biodiversity, Ecology, and Environmental Data (Biology)
  • NFDI4Cat – NFDI for Catalysis-Related Sciences (Chemistry)
  • NFDI4Chem – Chemistry Consortium in the NFDI (Chemistry)
  • NFDI4Ing – National Research Data Infrastructure for Engineering Sciences (Engineering Sciences)

In their funding decision, the GWK followed the recommendations of the NFDI expert panel, which proposed the above nine initiatives for funding following an intensive review and evaluation process by the GWK. You can view the DFG's statistical evaluation (de) of the funded consortia on the DFG website.

Some of the NFDI consortia that the GWK selected for the first funding round have already made their proposals available to the public. You can view these proposals at the recently created NFDI Zenodo Community Collection.

Calls for Proposal – The Application Process

The calls for proposals are managed by the DFG. In total, there will be three rounds of calls to select the consortia to receive funding, held in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Statistical information on applications received are already available for the 2019 (de) and 2020 (de) rounds. Recommendations for second-round funding have already been communicated to the Joint Science Conference GWK. For further information on the recommendations, please refer to the article on the recommendation for funding (de) published on the RDM Blog (de). The final decision by the GWK will be announced in June 2021.

The third round of calls was opened on May 12, 2021. The third NFDI Conference is scheduled to take place on July 8, 2021.

For further information, please also visit the DFG website.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions on the NFDI, please get in touch with the ServiceDesk. The RDM Team is looking forward to hearing from you!