Application FAQs

How do I apply?

For each of the Foundation’s funding initiatives there is a separate sheet entitled ‘Information for Applicants’, in which you will find details of the framework conditions and requirements for content and form. Here you will also find practical tips on how to submit your application. Should you still have queries, you can always refer to the contact person named in these sheets.

Applications must be filed electronically via the electronic application system.

Can institutions located abroad be eligible for funding?

In principle, academic institutions located in other countries are also eligible for funding. Applications must, however, refer to a specific funding initiative. In such cases, concrete details must be supplied to show that a substantial cooperation with researchers in Germany has been agreed upon. Many of the Foundation’s funding initiatives require that the German research institute takes the lead with respect to the overall project responsibility.

What other requirements do applications have to fulfill?

The Foundation can only process applications in which an academic institution is named as the intended recipient of funds.

In general, the Foundation requires that an identical or similar application is not to be submitted to other funding organizations at the same time. In funding initiatives for the promotion of individual early career researchers (fellowships), however, the Foundation makes an exception to this rule. This does not apply to its other funding initiatives.

If a project has previously been rejected "in its present form", you are free to revise your application, taking into account the information provided, and submit it again. In the case of a normal rejection, however, your application will not be reviewed a second time.

What are the requirements for funding?

The Foundation only funds academic institutions, and therefore can not allocate funds directly to individuals. Funding must be designated for specific purposes, and evidence must be provided to the Foundation that the money is spent solely to this purpose, i.e. that they in no way substitute or compensate the budget deficits of the recipient institution - and hence the responsible body, e.g., the state.

Funding may not be channeled to compensate for budget deficits, nor may funding on the part of the Volkswagen Foundation cause any other funding organization to reduce or withhold funding on their part. Hence, the Foundation can not fund projects whose objectives and funding requirements are not precisely defined. The Foundation can not allocate funding for other research funding institutions within the context of their genuine activities.

The funding allocated by the Foundation is neither tied to any particular financial year, nor does it expire at the end of any calendar year. Notwithstanding, only under exceptional circumstances may grants be continued for more than five years.

The Foundation does not provide funds for institutional overhead costs.

Full details of the Foundation’s scope for funding are contained in the respective ‘Information for Applicants’.

What are the selection criteria?

As a rule, the Volkswagen Foundation first invites a number of peer reviewers to submit their appraisal. Important assessment criteria include the expected contribution to the further development of science, consistency of the application, the personal qualifications of project participants, and appropriateness of the effort involved as well as the expenses required. The Foundation upholds strict confidentiality with regard to the review process.

Who decides whether a grant is awarded?

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees decides on applications for funding at meetings which are held usually three times a year. A strict “Code of Conduct” binds members of the Foundation’s staff and the Board of Trustees, and the Foundation takes pain to ensure that nobody is allowed to take part in decisions which may involve any institution or body they may be part of or associated with.

What does the Foundation require of recipients during the funding period?

On acceptance of allocated funds, applicants become bound by the Foundation’s Funding Principles. In the case of fellowships for scholars in other countries individual regulations will apply. The funds are transferred onto an account belonging to the recipient institution in line with the duly submitted Plan for Calling of Funds. On expiration of the funding period – in the case of long-term projects sometimes earlier – the Volkswagen Foundation must be supplied with detailed accounts which evidence how the funds have been spent.

In addition to this the Foundation must be supplied with annual reports which document the project’s progress. In its guidelines for the interim and the final report the Foundation provides practical tips on compiling such reports.

Furthermore, the Foundation expects from recipients of grants to publicize their results, preferably in established journals or monographs, and to include an acknowledgement of support received from the Foundation. The Foundation also strives to provide the general public with information on the projects it supports, and therefore requests the grant recipients’ constructive cooperation with the Foundation’s Communication team.

Moreover, the Foundation expects its recipients of grants to pay special attention to ethical issues in science and research. This applies both to the project design and the project realization. If ethically relevant aspects arise during the course of their research, grantees are expected to notify the Foundation as well as their respective ethics commission. The Foundation aims to support its grantees in organizing conferences and other events for discussing relevant ethical issues with experts and colleagues as well as other relevant stakeholders from broader society.