A Tradition of Excellence

Bonn is Germany’s Preeminent University of Excellence

We have been one of eleven German Universities of Excellence since the summer of 2019. And we are the only German university in the Excellence Contest conducted by the federal government and German states (as part of their Excellence Strategy—ExStra) to receive funding for six Clusters of Excellence. This makes us the most successful University of Excellence in their Excellence Strategy. Find out more about the planning for our continuing future as a University of Excellence.

News from the Excellence Strategy
Robotics Research at the Highest International Level

The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst, visited the Humanoid Robots Lab at the University of Bonn on Thursday afternoon. Talks centered on current research projects in the field of robotics and the challenges associated with the use of robots in human environments. The state premier was able to enter virtual reality with a robot and watch a three-armed robot harvesting peppers.

False alarm of the immune system during muscle disease

Researchers at the University Hospitals of Dresden and Bonn of the DFG Transregio 237 and from the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn have made progress clarifying why patients with myotonic dystrophy 2 have a higher tendency to develop autoimmune diseases. Their goal is to understand the development of the disease, and their research has provided new, potential therapeutic targets. The results of the study have now been published in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".

Major Success for University of Bonn

The University of Bonn has some excellent news to report, with two new cluster initiatives given the green light to apply for funding as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German government and federal states. The German Research Foundation and the German Council of Science and Humanities made the announcement earlier today. The two new cluster initiatives are thus among the 41 chosen from the 143 draft proposals in all from across the country that were evaluated. In 2019, the University of Bonn secured an already impressive six clusters, more than any other university in Germany. All of these clusters are applying to maintain their status, putting the University in with a chance of hosting eight Clusters of Excellence.

Why Are People Climate Change Deniers?

Do climate change deniers bend the facts to avoid having to modify their environmentally harmful behavior? Researchers from the University of Bonn and the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) ran an online experiment involving 4,000 US adults, and found no evidence to support this idea. The authors of the study were themselves surprised by the results. Whether they are good or bad news for the fight against global heating remains to be seen. The study is being published in the journal “Nature Climate Change.”

This is what the "Excellence Strategy" is all about

The Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and German States was adopted in 2016 with the long-term aim of enhancing Germany’s standing and international competitiveness as a location for science and scholarship; implementation commenced in 2018. The associated grant program successfully rolled out in the earlier Excellence Initiative (of 2005-2017) forms the funding basis for the process of ongoing development at German universities. Roughly half a billion euros in funding is budgeted annually, three-quarters of which are put up by the federal government and one quarter by the German states. The goal: promoting research excellence by heightening the profile of the national higher education system and strengthening collaboration between its member institutions. The Excellence Strategy provides for two grant programs for which universities can apply:

What is a “Cluster of Excellence”?

Clusters of Excellence are formed as an instrument for providing project-specific funding to universities and university consortia for research in fields of importance in a context of international competition. In September 2018 the decision was made to allocate funding for applications connected to the University of Bonn for the current grant period, out of a total of 57 approved projects. The annual funding budgeted for Clusters of Excellence ranges between three and ten million euros, granted for an initial seven-year period. Both new and follow-on applications may be approved at the end of this period, subject to the limit of two funding periods for Clusters of Excellence.

What is a “University of Excellence”?

The grant program for Universities of Excellence is in place as a means to empower individual institutions and university alliances or consortia to make further gains as international research leaders. Annual funding of between 10 and 15 million euros is available for individual universities, and up to 28 million euros for university consortia. 
A new aspect to this grant program now is that universities of supra-regional stature are eligible for joint funding from both the federal and state governments on a non-temporary basis. For Universities of Excellence the condition applies that they must successfully pass a research evaluation every seven years. Decisions regarding funding for new and ongoing projects are to be made in 2026.

The University of Bonn's Future Concept

The Future Concept outlined by the University of Bonn was effective in convincing the evaluating judges to select the institution as one of eleven Universities (and university alliances) of Excellence. At the heart of this Future Concept lies a set of fundamental objectives: promoting transdisciplinary research, through the formation of Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs); “We invest in people”—creating high-profile professorships to attract scholars of excellence across the range of qualification levels; “We foster networks”—forming and strengthening research alliances; and “We create impact” by furthering knowledge transfer and communication within the research community.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© USGS on unsplash

Transdisciplinary Research Areas

The six existing Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) have touchpoints across the entire spectrum of academic inquiry at the University.

Exzellenzstrategie -  TRAs
© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

The ‘Future Concept’

Our strategy to deliver excellence in research and teaching is summarily expressed in the slogan: “We invest in people, we foster networks, we create impact.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert/HCM

Our Clusters of Excellence

The University of Bonn has six Clusters of Excellence, including alliances with the University of Cologne and the RWTH Aachen University.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

High-Profile Professorships

Excellence at our University is further enhanced by high-profile professorial chairs: the prestigious Hertz, Schlegel and Argelander professorships.


Avatar Hoch

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Hoch

Rector of the University of Bonn
Avatar Zimmer

Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer

Vice Rector for Research and Early-Career Researchers
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