The Excellence Initiative is a funding measure adopted by the German federal and state government in 2005 to strengthen Germany as a research location, improve its international competitiveness and make top performance in the fields of higher education and science more visible. For this purpose three funding lines were set up:
- Graduate Schools to support young researchers,
- Excellence Cluster to promote high level research and
- Zukunftskonzepte (Institutional Strategies) to strengthen the overall strategic conceptc of universities.
In 2007, the University of Tübingen was able to recruit the Exzellenzcluster des Werner Reichhardt Centrums für integrative Neurowissenschaften (CIN) as part of the first funding period. With the extension of the CIN and the successful application of the Graduate School Learning, Educational Achievement, and Life Course Development (LEAD) it laid the foundation for the recruitment of the Institutional Strategy "Research - Relevance - Responsibility" in 2012.
Institutional Strategies form the third funding line within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. The aim is to sustainably expand top-level university research, create a higher level of competitiveness in an international framework, and strengthen universities in the field of promoting young researchers in the long term.
The Institutional Strategy of the University of Tübingen (ZUK 63) is based on the motto Research - Relevance - Responsibility. Since 2012, the University's basic research has been specifically funded under this guiding principle and extended to include application-oriented and socially relevant topics. The improvement of the promotion of young researchers, internationalization and equal opportunity are further essential components of the Tübingen Institutional Strategy.
The University has used the opportunities offered by the Excellence Initiative to implement the measures envisaged in the institutional strategy. This has led to a redefinition of the emphasis of the University's profile and initiated structural changes, which also establish a long-term strategic structure at the University. The implementation of the different parts of the program is clearly visible:
After evaluation of the program by the so-called "Imboden-Commission", the future of the Excellence Initiative program was decided by the Ministerial Conference of the Federal States on 16 June 2016. From November 2019 onwards, it will be continued as an "Excellence Strategy".
To this end, the new call for proposals was launched in September 2016, which comprises two funding lines:
- Clusters of Excellence and
- Universities of Excellence.
The University of Tübingen applied with several cluster initiatives and was successful in the first stage of the process (draft phase) with four of its own initiatives and one initiative in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart. These initiatives are now entering the second round. A final decision on the cluster initiatives is expected at the end of September 2018.
All universities that receive a positive decision in the second round for at least two cluster initiatives may submit an application for funding under the University of Excellence funding line until December 2018. The final decision on this is expected in July 2019. The funding period then starts in November 2019.
Further information on the Excellence Initiative and Excellence Strategy can be found on the websites of