The excellence initiative excellent=austria, launched earlier this year, is one of Austria’s most comprehensive funding programs for basic research. Five Clusters of Excellence were awarded millions in funding in the first round. The initiative has now passed an international evaluation of its selection procedure with flying colors.

The FWF is committed to upholding the highest standards of evaluation and decision-making when awarding funding, and has its procedures reviewed by independent experts on a regular basis. Results are now in for the evaluation of the selection procedure for Clusters of Excellence, a particularly highly endowed funding program aimed at consortia of researchers from many different Austrian research institutions.

The results of the evaluation, conducted by Norway’s Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, are overall very positive, while including some minor recommendations for future development. In their summary, the international experts confirm the efficiency and well-targeted nature of the multi-stage selection process as well as the procedure’s transparency. The FWF successfully attracted proposals from many highly qualified researchers from a broad range of disciplines. In the course of the evaluation, both the participating researchers and the experts praised the resulting synergy effects that have arisen in numerous research areas. The report’s constructive criticism, such as the ambitious scheduling of the call and allowing more lead time in the application phase, will be taken into account accordingly by the FWF when planning the next call. 

“Our primary goal was and continues to be ensuring independent funding decisions based entirely on the criteria of scientific excellence, also for the Clusters of Excellence. This was a particular challenge considering the large number of participating researchers from all over Austria, and we handled it very well according to the international experts. Austria has significantly more potential for further Clusters of Excellence, and the positive feedback from this evaluation is motivating us to launch the second round of calls as soon as possible, based on the funding commitments we received in the spring,” said FWF President Christof Gattringer. The FWF plans to launch the second round of calls in early 2024.

Further information:

Evaluation of the Clusters of Excellence call
FWF statement on the evaluation

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