The Excellence Initiative, the Institutional Strategy of the Univeristy of Tübingen and the Excellence Strategy

The Excellence Initiative

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:


  1. Graduate Schools to support young researchers,
  2. Excellence Cluster to promote high level research and
  3. 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.




The Institutional Strategy of the University of Tübingen


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:



  • Four research platforms of excellence have been established, which, by closely linking basic research and application-related topics, open up new, forward-looking fields of research. At the same time, these platforms serve as networking platforms within the university and with external research institutions.


  • Also the three newly established Core Facilities QBiC, e-Science Center und LISA+ serve internal networking and provide scientists with an excellent infrastructure.



  • The new administrative unit Industry Liaison Office, which was established at the beginning of the funding period, is responsible for contacts with commercial enterprises and industry. It coordinates the contact between scientists and companies and vice versa, and accompanies cooperation projects during all their phases.



  • A diverse range of intramural funding schemes enable young researchers to strengthen their skills and learn autonomy in research at various levels. These include among others, Exploration Funds, Innovation Grants, the Promotion of Excellent Junior Researchers and the opportunity to obtain funding for Summer/Winter Schools and Workshops. Doctoral candidates and postdocs are supported by the Graduate Academy with its large variety of interdisciplinary qualification opportunities and advisory programs.


  • Another funding scheme that is explicitly aimed at female junior researchers is the Athene Program. It supports promising female researchers by combining research funding and individual advice in career planning. Other measures concerning equal opportunities include the appointment of several female professors in research areas in which women are under-represented and the establishment of several dual-career positions.


  • In the field of international affairs, there is a large number of funding programs which intensify the exchange between the University of Tübingen and its strategically important partners. In order to increase international visibility, the University has been on the Research World Tour since 2015. In order to coordinate the activities within the framework of the University's internationalization strategy, a new staff unit "International Research Cooperation and Research Strategies" has been set up. Among other things, it is responsible for the supervision of the new Tübingen Research Campus, a merger of the University with external research institutions based in Tübingen, as well as the establishment of a researcher alumni program.


  • All these measures are supported by the further development of effective governance processes: commitment discussions between the President´s office and the Faculties are used, for example, to integrate the development and networking potential of the faculties into the strategic further development and profiling of the University.




The Excellence Strategy

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:

  1. Cluster of Excellence and
  2. 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

Further information on the Excellence Initiative and Excellence Strategy can be found on the websites of


Employees of the University of Tübngen can find further information in the Internal Documents section on the website of the Excellence Inititative.