Freigeist Fellowships: 8 Million Euro for Eight Out-standing Research Personalities

Key criterion for becoming a Freigeist Fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation is the readiness to depart from mainstream research and dedicate oneself to ground-breaking and therefore risk-laden research. Eight early-career researchers recently convinced the Foundation's international review panel with their unconventional project proposals, which they will now implement at universities in different parts of Germany.

Logo der Freigeist-Fellowships der VolkswagenStiftung
Since 2014, the Foundation has selected up to fifteen Freigeist Fellows each year. (Grafik: VolkswagenStiftung)

The Freigeist Fellowships supported by the Volkswagen Foundation are aimed at "free spirits" from all disciplines with up to four years postdoctoral experience. Applicants must not only possess outstanding specialist expertise, but must also demonstrate the ability to look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline and combine critical analytical skills with unprecedented perspectives and approaches to solutions, as is the case in the projects listed above. They range from research into processes of democratization in Indonesia and Turkey, through the connection between globalization and criminal networks, to adaptive neuroprostheses for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The Foundation's Board of Trustees approved eight applications from almost 90 project ideas submitted by early-career researchers last October. Since 2014, the Foundation has selected up to fifteen Freigeist Fellows each year.

More flexibility

With its Freigeist initiative, the Volkswagen Foundation also aims to establish dependable career paths for the upcoming generation of researchers. To this end, the Fellowship has been made even more flexible in terms of funding amount and duration: By the next deadline on October 10, 2019, applicants can apply for up to 1.8 million euro spread over an initial funding phase of five or six years. Successful applicants will then be able to carry out their research projects within the framework of a junior professorship and thus establish their own research profile.

The new Freigeist Fellows and their research projects

Further information on the Freigeist Fellowships of the Volkswagen Foundation can be found at The next closing date for project submissions is October 10, 2019.