Off the Beaten Track

Do not apply without prior consultation
Eleven doctoral students representing six different disciplines are collaborating to reveal the remaining hidden secrets of Naumburg Cathedral (Photo: Jelca Kollatsch).

The funding segment "Off the Beaten Track" leaves room for exemplary projects of an original, daring, and potentially transformative nature which do not fit into any established funding schemes.


"Off the Beaten Track" was created for projects pursuing a truly extraordinary research design, giving visionary impetus to academia, or depending on the neutrality of a private funder. Within this funding segment the Foundation supports outstanding projects beyond existing funding schemes, disciplinary boundaries, and the mainstream.

Scope of Funding

The funding segment "Off the Beaten Track" is therefore reserved for exceptional cases. In other words: In order to be eligible for funding, projects in this category not only have to fulfill most stringent quality requirements, they must also plausibly explain why they cannot apply for funding elsewhere.
There is a preference for projects tackling extraordinary transdisciplinary or methodological challenges, for projects depending on a specific window of opportunity, and for projects with another convincing ‘unique selling point’. In accordance with the open character of this funding segment there cannot exist a generally valid catalogue of criteria.

In any case, before drafting detailed proposals applicants should first contact the respective program manager for their subject area in order to clarify whether their project can be considered and how to proceed. An initial inquiry with an outline should explain the presumed lack of established funding schemes and roughly sketch the required budget. In view of the large number of inquiries the Foundation regrets that it is not possible to provide the grounds on which full proposals are invited or not.

Invited applications are assessed involving external experts. Successful proposals have to fulfill most stringent quality requirements. The reviewing process can vary, with the specific project requirements in mind. Depending on the individual case written reviews, a presentation in front of a panel, or other forms of assessment are used.


The funding segment entitled "Off the Beaten Track" was redefined and updated in 2002.