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University of Cologne in a Strong Position to Win Excellence Strategy Funding

German Research Foundation (DFG) asks University of Cologne to submit four full applications for Clusters of Excellence

In the framework of the Excellence Strategy for German universities of the German federal and state governments, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has asked the University of Cologne to submit four full proposals for Clusters of Excellence. This significantly increases the chances of the UoC to succeed in the next round of the competition. Defending its status as an Excellence University would entail the long-term provision of millions of euros in external funding.

Professor Axel Freimuth, the Rector of the University of Cologne, is quite satisfied with the UoC’s performance in this first round of applications: “With this result, the University of Cologne is in an excellent position for the further course of the Excellence Strategy.”

On 27 and 28 September 2017, an international committee of experts came together in Bonn to select the most promising proposals from a total of 195 drafts. In total, the committee asked 88 projects to admit full applications for the final round of the competition. After the final round, the German Research Foundation will fund a total of 45 to 50 Clusters of Excellence.

The University of Cologne will now submit full proposals for the following Clusters of Excellence: 

Cluster of Excellence “ECONtribute: Markets and Public Policy”

The planned Cluster wants to develop a new paradigm for the dynamics of markets and the effects policies have on them. “In the face of the new challenges posed by global financial crises or the need to regulate digital markets, traditional approaches no longer suffice”, says Professor Felix Bierbrauer, the designated speaker of the Cluster for the University of Cologne. “What is more, these approaches do not systematically take into account advances in field of behavioral economics.” Besides these new challenges, the Cluster aims to account for new goals such as fair and socially accepted market result in its analysis. Research on the design of incentive systems, market mechanisms, and political decision-making processes will develop new instruments for economic policy. The research activities of the Cluster of Excellence will be conducted under the umbrella of the newly founded BCecon Research Institute. Besides the University of Cologne, the University of Bonn is involved and acts as the managing university in the planned Cluster of Excellence.

Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research “Cellular Stress Responses to Aging-associated Diseases”

At the Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research (CECAD) in Cologne, scientists are exploring the biological and medical foundations of the aging process. After the first two funding periods, which focused on research on cellular foundations, CECAD now wants to expand its research horizon in the framework of the Excellence Strategy. In future, it will focus on the interactions among organs: How do the liver and the brain, or the heart and the muscles communicate? “Cohort studies will moreover offer new insights into healthy aging”, says Professor Jens Brüning, the scientific head and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence. “This will allow CECAD to go one step further – from basic research to clinical application.” The Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research is a cooperation among the University of Cologne, Cologne University Hospital, and the Max Planck Institutes for Metabolism Research and Biology of Aging as well as the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). The University of Cologne is the managing university. 

Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences “SMART Plants to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow”

The aim of the scientists at the Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences (CEPLAS) is to lay the foundation for the development and breeding of crop plants that will predictably react to future challenges. The growing need for food and man-made climate change pose tremendous challenges for sustainable food production and the maintenance of ecosystems. Professor Stanislav Kopriva, speaker of the Cluster at the University of Cologne, says: “We have divided CEPLAS into four research areas, each of which approaches the task of developing productive plants for the future in a different way.” The Cluster of Excellence CEPLAS is a cooperation among the Universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf as well as the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Cluster of Excellence “Matter and Light for Quantum Computing: The Future of Computers”

The aim of the Cluster of Excellence is to develop new computing and networking architectures to utilize the principle of quantum mechanics, in which extremely fast processing units are modularly realized and optically connected to each other. “Their computing and networking capacity would by far surpass that of existing technologies and make quantum computers powerful tools in the design of new materials and drugs, and in making communication safer”, says Professor Yoichi Ando, the designated speaker of the Cluster of Excellence at the University of Cologne. The planned Cluster of Excellence is a cooperation involving the Universities of Cologne and Bonn, RWTH Aachen, and Forschungszentrum Jülich. The University of Cologne is the managing university.

Media Enquiries:
Dr. Patrick Honecker
Spokesperson of the University of Cologne
+49 221 470 2202
p.honecker(at)verw.uni-koeln.de