“I’m naturally curious to know more about the University‘s excellence strategy”, says the Mayor of Bremen, Carsten Sieling. He visited the campus especially to gain a better impression of the five outline proposals for excellence clusters submitted by the University in the excellence competition initiated by the German Government and Federal States. “Clusters” are groups of excellent researchers working on major interdisciplinary collaborative projects. The decision as to which submissions will be asked to draw up full proposals and enter the competition will be made known on September 28 this year. There must be at least two, if the University of Bremen is to have a chance in the other funding lines and defend its status as a University of Excellence.
Bernd Scholz-Reiter, President of the University of Bremen, explains: “The five cluster initiatives reflect the success of our profile building endeavors over the past few years. All five clusters have done their utmost.” All told, participating universities submitted some 200 outline proposals to the German Research Foundation, where now a high-caliber jury has the task of selecting the 50 most promising ideas. As President Scholz-Reiter points out, “If we are successful, it will be a tremendous boost to our excellent research activities.” After all, here we’re talking about funding in amounts of three to ten million euro a year – for each successful cluster.
The Mayor was completely enthralled by the short lectures he attended on the marine and environmental sciences as well as materials science, the social sciences, and computer science. These lectures illustrated the interdisciplinary nature of cooperation with the neighboring non-university institutes and a number of high-tech enterprises in the surrounding region.
Expanded financial opportunities
“It’s really impressive to see how the various competencies gathered around the University join together to realize such interesting projects”, said Sieling, going on to speak words of encouragement and provide further motivation: Support for the science and research landscape is an important cornerstone of the “Future Commission” recently set up by the Bremen Senate. And from 2020 onwards, Bremen will enjoy extra financial opportunities, which will also benefit science in the federal state – this must have been music to the ears of University President, Bernd Scholz-Reiter.
The clusters encompass a broad spectrum of topical social, technological, and environmental thematic areas. These include deep-sea exploration, satellite observation of environmental pollution, highly robust metals exhibiting new properties, social inequity, and living with new technologies.
In June 2016, the German Government and the Federal States decided to enhance their Excellence Initiative with a so-called Excellence Strategy, the aim being to strengthen the position of German universities in the international competition that marks science in today’s world. The Excellence Strategy encompasses two funding lines: Excellence Clusters and Excellence Universities. Excellence Clusters are large, internationally visible interdisciplinary clusters of collaborative research focused on topical long-term issues that fit the respective university profiles. The successful clusters will receive funding in an amount of up to 10 million euro per year over the next seven-year period. If they then receive a positive evaluation, the funding can be prolonged. The University of Bremen already hosts one excellence cluster: The MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences.
In future, in order to compete for the title “University of Excellence”, an institution has to have at least two clusters. Such funding lines serve to strengthen universities as institutions and strengthen their leading international position in certain fields of research. Universities of Excellence will receive support on an ongoing basis. In 2012, the University of Bremen was granted the status of Excellence University for its future strategy concept with the title “Ambitious and Agile”. It intends to repeat this success in the Excellence Strategy.