Challenges and Potentials for Europe: The Greying Continent

area of research: humanities, cultural and social sciences (lead); natural, life, data and technological sciences possible
type of funding: international research projects and summer schools
up to 1 million Euro for 3 partners, up to 1.5 million Euro for 5 partners
up to 4 years
research teams working on European challenges on "Ageing Societies"
consortia involving 3-5 principal investigators from at least 3 different European countries (main applicant has to be a member of a German university/research institution; max. 2 PIs from the same country)
additional benefits: funding for communication of science and research; funding for the preparation and storage of research data (data reuse)

next call planned for autumn 2022

The call is dedicated to the challenges and dynamics of change within Europe. (Photo: mode_list -
The call is dedicated to the challenges and dynamics of change within Europe. (Photo: mode_list -


"Europeans are living longer than ever before and the age profile of society is rapidly evolving. (…) Such developments are likely to have profound implications, not only for individuals, but also for governments, business and civil society" (Ageing Europe, EUROSTAT 2019). Once called a "silent revolution" this development is becoming more and more the decisive challenge for Europe in the future.

In light of this societal transformation, the Foundation encourage researchers to develop research-based impulses for future cooperation within Europe to master this challenge and to really tap the potential of "successful" ageing. There is a great heterogeneity of ageing on the continent. Therefore, comparative research is needed to address this imbalance, for the program especially addresses systematically interrelated problems which can only be dealt with collectively at the European level.

Scope of Funding

The call targets scholars in the humanities, social and cultural sciences, as these fields are often still missing in research on ageing. Where appropriate, interdisciplinary co-operations with partners from the life, data, technological and natural sciences are appreciated. Funding can be provided for the constitution of European research groups comprising up to five principal investigators (PIs) from at least three different European countries. The main applicant needs to be affiliated with a German university or research institution. A collaboration with researchers from Southern and Eastern Europe is particularly desirable. The scientific qualification of young scholars has to be a central element of each research project.

Besides the cooperation projects, it is also possible to apply for funding for open-topic summer schools on "Challenges and Potentials for Europe". There are three deadlines per year for summer school applications.

Details of requirements and the application procedure are provided under Information for Applicants (pdf). Applications must be submitted via the electronic application system of the Volkswagen Foundation.


In light of numerous crises within Europe in the past years, there have been three calls by the Volkswagen Foundation with the topic "Challenges for Europe" in 2017, 2018 (together with the Italian foundation Compagnia di San Paolo and the Danish Carlsberg Foundation) and 2020. This year the initiative "Challenges for Europe" is once more solely organized by the Volkswagen Foundation.