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Bremen Materials Science Team Clears First Hurdle on the Way to Excellence Funding

The University of Bremen submitted three draft proposals for the establishment of new Excellence Clusters as part of the federal and state governments' Excellence Strategy. One research team has now been invited by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to submit a full proposal.

The chosen draft proposal from the field of materials science is among the 41 draft proposals selected by a panel of experts, which have now been invited to submit a full proposal by the end of August 2024. The final decision on the approval of the clusters will be made in May 2025. A total of 143 outlines were submitted nationwide.

With the Excellence Strategy, the federal and state governments are pursuing the goal of strengthening top-level research at German universities in particularly competitive fields of research. Funding is provided for Excellence Clusters, which are large, internationally visible research alliances in which researchers from different disciplines work together on a project and which contribute to building the profile of the respective universities. The funding gives researchers the opportunity to focus intensively on their research goal, train young academics, and recruit top international talent. Excellence Clusters receive support for seven years and a second funding period of another seven years is possible

Success in a Highly Competitive Process

The draft proposal "The Martian Mindset: A Scarcity-Driven Engineering Paradigm" has today cleared a major hurdle on the way to becoming a Cluster of Excellence. I am extremely pleased about this and would like to thank everyone involved. Many drafts have been submitted across the country. The competition is fierce. The fact that the researchers at the University of Bremen have overcome this hurdle shows that we conduct recognized top-level research here," stated Kathrin Moosdorf, Senator for the Environment, Climate, and Science of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

"This is a great first success that clearly demonstrates the importance of our research in the field of materials science," said Professor Jutta Günther, President of the University of Bremen. "The researchers were able to prevail in a highly competitive process in which very good research projects had to be eliminated due to the limited number of places for new full proposals. We are proud of all of our teams that entered into the competition." Michal Kucera, Vice President for Research and Transfer, added: "We would therefore like to expressly thank all three research teams. With their draft proposals, they have developed outstanding, innovative research ideas that will make an important contribution to further raising the profile of our university and strengthening our high-profile areas."

Pioneering Research in Materials Science

The researchers were successful with their cluster draft entitled "The Martian Mindset: A Scarcity-Driven Engineering Paradigm." They assume that human exploration of Mars will take place in the coming decades – with enormous consequences for humanity on the one hand and the Martian environment on the other. A long-term research station requires the production of materials and components on site, but the scarcity of energy, water, and labor, as well as the extremely thin CO2 atmosphere pose major challenges. In addition, the long distance to Mars means that communication with Earth is only possible with a time delay. The Martian perspective helps researchers to answer the question of how sustainable production can succeed under these conditions. The aim is to develop a paradigm of sustainability that is geared towards resource scarcity: the Mars perspective. Specifically, it is determined by scarcity in four aspects: resources, energy, labor, and information. In the long term, the research findings will establish new ways of thinking on Earth and shape the sustainable use of limited resources. "With the Mars perspective, we will rethink the production of materials under the premise of resource scarcity. In doing so, we not only want to make a contribution to the exploration of Mars, but also to sustainability on Earth," explained Professor Marc Avila, Head of the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) and spokesperson for the cluster initiative.

MARUM Submits Application for Continuation

In the upcoming full proposal phase, the team from MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences is also submitting an application – namely an application for continuation. One of the 57 Excellence Clusters currently funded throughout Germany has been based at MARUM since 2019. This is why MARUM is only now entering the full application phase of the current competition. This time, the researchers at MARUM are submitting the application for continuation of the Excellence Cluster "The Ocean Floor – Earth's Uncharted Interface" as a joint application together with scientists from the University of Oldenburg.

If a university is successful with at least two cluster applications, it may later also apply with a university-wide institutional strategy as part of the "University of Excellence" funding line. "At the moment, our main focus is on supporting the research teams that can now submit a full application. In the coming months, however, we will of course be discussing this possibility within the university," commented Jutta Günther.


Further Information:



Dr. Achim Wiesner
Staff Unit for Strategic Initiatives (SPE)
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-60015
Email: achim.wiesnerprotect me ?!vw.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Personen auf dem Mars
Researchers at the University of Bremen are pursuing the goal of developing a paradigm of sustainability that focuses on resource scarcity: the Mars perspective. They have been invited by the DFG to submit a full proposal for their draft "The Martian Mindset: A Scarcity-Driven Engineering Paradigm".