Video: The Application Procedure at Volkswagen Foundation

A new explanatory film provides insights into how the application procedure works. On this occasion, we talked to Dr. Henrike Hartmann, Head of the Volkswagen Foundation's Funding Department, about what is taken into account in the review process and what applicants should bear in mind to be successful with their research proposal.

As a private and independent organization, the Volkswagen Foundation awards funding to academic institutions in Germany and abroad – more than 253 million euros in 2019 alone. Last year, the Foundation received more than 2,000 applications. But how does the Foundation's funding procedure work? Who decides when and how to allocate funding? What should applicants bear in mind? All this is explained in a new video on the application procedure.

Video: How does the application procedure work?

Briefly explained: What steps does an application go through? Who makes the funding decision? (Duration: 2 min., Video: Volkswagen Foundation)

Interview with Dr. Henrike Hartmann

One of the most pressing questions applicants ask themselves is: What makes a good funding proposal?

Henrike Hartmann: In my experience, a very important factor is an excellent summary. This is the door opener; it has to make an impact. But before that, researchers should ask themselves a completely different question.

Which is that?

Henrike Hartmann: It is increasingly the case that early career researchers in particular tend to submit applications to as many institutions as possible to increase their chances. This is perfectly understandable in times of high competition for funding, but it doesn't help. Right at the beginning, the very first question they should ask themselves is which institution and which funding program really fits their proposed project? This is the most sensible way to use your resources - and also to spare those of all the other parties involved.

Head of funding at Volkswagen Foundation: Dr. Henrike Hartmann.
Head of funding at Volkswagen Foundation: Dr. Henrike Hartmann. (Photo: Philip Bartz for Volkswagen Foundation)

The Volkswagen Foundation alone has more than two dozen different funding initiatives. What can help young researchers to find their way around?

Henrike Hartmann: They should first consult the homepage for all relevant information on the range of initiatives, in particular the document "Information for Applicants". And then we encourage them to pick up the phone! Some people are afraid that this might cause us an inconvenience, but they couldn't be more wrong. Before submitting your application, the respective funding managers will be happy to advise you on which program best fits your research proposal. Being available to answer such questions is part of our job.

Once the application has been made, most people experience an anxious period of waiting. What happens to the application once it reaches the Foundation?

Henrike Hartmann: Following a preliminary check by the funding managers, the review process begins. However, there is not just one review process, but rather a variety of different procedures – all carefully created to match each funding initiative. We reflect on which procedure is the most suitable for each funding initiative. In this way we can do justice to the call for proposals and the objectives of the initiative, but also ensure that the process is as efficient as possible for everyone involved.

Short introduction to the foundation: Who are we? And what do we do? (Length: 2 Min., Video: Volkswagen Foundation)

More Information

Researchers who want to submit applications for funding to the Volkswagen Foundation can find all important information on "For applicants".

What We Do not Fund

To save researchers the trouble of submitting an application in a hopeless case, the Foundation communicates on its homepage the criteria that exclude funding. For example, there is no possibility to provide funding for general undergraduate or postgraduate studies in the form of individual scholarships; young researchers can only be funded within the framework of the Foundation's funding initiatives. Click here for an overview of the "exclusion criteria".