Special Research Programmes (SFBs)

Target group

  • A core group of five to fifteen internationally outstanding researchers from all scientific/scholarly disciplines1, in particular from the humanities, social sciences and cultural sciences, form a special research programme at an Austrian research institution.
  • Participation in a special research programme is possible in addition to the currently applicable project number restriction of three FWF projects. Each researcher may only participate in a maximum of two SFBs, including participation in an SFB funded by the DFG in Germany. If a researcher is already involved in two SFB projects (in Austria or Germany) as a subproject leader, no further participation in an SFB draft proposal is possible. This applies to both the application and implementation phases of a project.
  • Researchers working abroad who have an additional 25% affiliation with an Austrian research institution can participate in a special research programme2.
  • One researcher acts as coordinator (former spokesperson) of the special reseach programme.
  • The formal application is submitted by the Austrian research institution; all Austrian research institutions are eligible; there is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by a research institution. A research institution can thus submit several applications.


  • Establishment of research networks based on international standards through autonomous research concentration at a single university location
  • Building up of extremely productive, tightly interconnected research establishments for long-term and multi-/interdisciplinary3 work on complex research topics


  • already available research potential
  • The nucleus of researchers involved in the application must be sufficiently large and well qualified to be able to establish and run a research program of international standing within the scientific /scholarly profile of the participating research institution(s); a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 15 project part leaders (including the coordinator of the project); target quote of 30 % female researchers requested4; at least 50% of the project part leaders have to be located at a single university location5; commitment of all universities and research institutions participating

8 years, an interim review after 4 years decides on continuation

Benchmark 1,000,000 € per year

via the FWF’s electronic application portal

  • Approval via the lead research organisation by 2 October 2023; the possibility to submit via elane ends at 2:00 pm (Vienna local time)
  • in English
  • Application guidelines will be available on April 14, 2023

once a year in the last board meeting by the FWF Board based on an international review process


1 Applicants must show that they possess the research qualifications needed to carry out the project by means of a publication record over the last 5 years commensurate with their career stage, which demonstrates their international visibility.

2 Potential applicants are considered eligible in cases where they have a genuine part-time contract of employment (extent of employment: at least 25%) which is not funded by the FWF and which is guaranteed for the planned duration of the project. Before submitting an application, researchers are required to submit evidence of such an employment arrangement and a brief description of the project, including a plan for its execution, information on the researcher's presence on site, rules of representation, etc., for approval by the FWF.

3 “Interdisciplinarity” means the integration-oriented cooperation between persons from at least two disciplines with regard to common goals and results in which the disciplinary perspectives are brought together to form an overall vision.

4 The gender ratio in the team has been defined as a decision-relevant criterion within the framework of the evaluation.

5 Research location = all research institutions located in a city/municipality; all research institutions within a maximum radius of 80 km (as the crow flies) that regularly cooperate with the research institution directly located at the site are also considered to be the same research location.