Experiment! – In search of bold research ideas

  • area of research: science and engineering, life sciences
  • Region: Germany
  • type of funding: research projects
  • up to 100.000 Euro (may be flexibly utilized for all personnel and non-personnel costs)
  • up to 18 months
  • scientists in Germany with PhD or superior academic qualification
  • short application; anonymized selection procedure
  • additional benefits: funding for communication of science and research
Deadline: July 5, 2017
Photo: sör alex / photocase.com
Photo: sör alex / photocase.com


The exploration of exceptionally daring new ideas is not yet really subject of the established research agenda in Germany, as far as facing challenges and transforming common wisdom are concerned. This often requires to establish counterintuitive hypotheses as well as unconventional methodologies or technologies, and to focus on entirely new research approaches. The Volkswagen Foundation’s funding initiative 'Experiment!' tries to pave the way for fundamentally new research topics even though the outcome is indefinite. A concept failure as well as unexpected findings is an acceptable result.

Scope of Funding

The initiative addresses researchers in science and engineering as well as in the life sciences including behavioral biology and experimental psychology, who want to put a potentially transformative research idea to the test. They are given the opportunity to demonstrate preliminary evidence for a concept’s potential during an exploratory phase, which is limited to 18 months and up to 100,000 Euro.

One year after receipt of a grant the project development will be reconsidered at the Foundation’s 'Forum Experiment!'.

The application scheme is fast: The decision is taken within four months upon submission of a short proposal. An anonymized peer-review ensures that only prospective breakthrough ideas will count.

Further details on the conditions and the application procedure can be found under Information for Applicants (pdf).  Please also read the answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Applications must be filed electronically via the electronic application system.


The funding initiative 'Experiment!' was started in November 2012. The initiative is exceptionally well received with approx. 500 applications for the envisaged 15 grants per call. In total, 67 projects have been funded: 13 out of 704 in 2013, 19 out of 630 in 2014, 17 out of 425 in 2015, and 18 out of 544 applications in 2016.