Annual Report 2019 – an overview

Robust results and lots of new faces – here you have an overview of the most important figures, data and facts from our annual report 2019. You can download the German report in full under Jahresbericht 2019.

253.2 million euros of funding 

In 2019, a total of 253.2 million euros was approved in grants fitting the Foundation's purpose. The amount was spread over General Funding (93.9 million euros), funding of the Foundation's own events and projects (4.5 million euros), and specific grants benefitting research institutions in Lower Saxony ("Niedersächsisches Vorab", 154.8 million euros).

New records at all levels

Never before in the history of the Foundation has more money been approved in the areas of General Funding, the Foundation's own events and projects and "Niedersächsisches Vorab" – setting new records at all levels.

A total of 3 billion euros since the Foundation was established

In the area of General Funding, the total amount of allocated funding passed the 3-billion-euro mark – from 1962 up to the end of 2019, a total of around 3.1 billion euros.

Six new trustees

Six new members of the Board of Trustees began their term of office in the year under review. At the beginning of September, Björn Thümler, Lower Saxony's Minister for Science and Culture, became the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

New Secretary General

Dr. Wilhelm Krull left the Foundation at the end of the reporting year, – after 24 years in office. His successor, who took up office on January 1, 2020, is the former State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Dr. Georg Schütte


Allocation of funding – strong focus on early career researchers

In 2019, a total of 98.4 million euros was allocated in the area of General Funding . Almost three-quarters of this amount (73.9%, corresponding to 69.4 million euros) went to grantees predominantly in the early stages of their scientific careers.

Dr. Georg Schütte, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation, commented: "Whether in the case of doctoral positions, postdocs, junior or substitute professorships – the promotion of early career scholars and scientists is a goal that is consistently pursued in all our program lines and funding initiatives."


Ten-year comparison of applications and approvals

In a ten-year comparison, both the number of applications for funding (2,049) and the number of approvals (433) reached record levels in 2019. The approval rate was 16.2% of the requested sum (previous year 18.9 %) and 21.1% of all applications (previous year 21.7 %).

Among the reasons for the strong increase in the number of applications in recent years are new innovative formats such as "Experiment!" (since 2013), which deliberately encourage a broad range of applicants to submit unusual and creative ideas.


Approval rates in the different funding initiatives

The approval rates in current funding initiatives sometimes differ very significantly. The application procedure adopted in the respective initiative plays an important role here. For example, innovative "small grants" formats, i.e. low-threshold start-up funding for an exciting new research idea (e.g. the "Experiment!" funding initiative), are attracting extraordinarily high interest. The number of applications is correspondingly high, resulting in lower approval rates. By contrast, multi-stage application procedures, such as those in the funding initiative "Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa", usually lead to fewer applications and a correspondingly higher success rate.

Cover Jahresbericht 2019

Download the German annual report

You can download the German annual report in full under Jahresbericht 2019.