The Excellence Initiative aims to promote top-level research at German universities and research institutions. The major goals of the initiative are to make Germany a more attractive research location and more internationally competitive.
The Excellence Initiative has three funding lines: graduate schools, Clusters of Excellence and future concepts for top-class research at universities.
Graduate schools support young researchers with training and well-structured programs to produce dissertations. Graduate schools thus offer ideal conditions within a broad scientific area and an excellent research environment to encourage doctorate students to be active members of their academic and social communities.
Clusters of Excellence are centers for top-level international and interdisciplinary research. University research institutions and participating non-university research institutions form one center for shared research.
A Future concept for top-class research at universities establishes strategies to support a university’s international competitiveness. It is a precondition for funding in this stream that an institution of higher education has at least one excellence cluster and one research school.
There were two calls for proposals, inviting universities to submit funding proposals to the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Science Council (WR). The funding decisions were announced in October 2006 and October 2007. 39 Graduate schools, 37 Clusters of Excellence and 9 future concepts received 5 years of funding, totaling of € 1.9 Billion.
The Cluster of Excellence, 259 ‘Smart Interfaces – Understanding and Designing Fluid Boundaries’, was approved in the second round of funding, leading to the Center of Smart Interfaces (CSI) being founded in November 2007.