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A wide range of Funding opportunities


Foundations complement the services offered by major funding agencies such as the DFG, ministries, and the EU by filling gaps in the funding landscape that lie outside the funding spectrum of the DFG, ministries, and the EU. The foundations differ in their funding profile and funding spectrum. For example, MERCUR exclusively funds projects of the University Alliance Ruhr. In addition, some of the funding formats of certain foundations are very prestigious – such as the Volkswagen Foundation.

A selection of Foundations

Foundations in comparison

Of course, the foundation landscape cannot be fully depicted here. Rather, we only want to illustrate the range of funding opportunities offered by a few exemplary foundations.

If you are interested in applying to a particular foundation or if you are looking for suitable funding for your project, please contact the Grants Services team.

A series of similar looking white doors © Arek Socha ​/​ Pixabay

The Volkswagen Foundation sees itself as a complement to the “traditional” funding agencies. To this end, it develops formats that fill gaps in the given funding landscape. For example, it has developed the first format for junior research group leaders.

  • Funding profile: The Volkswagen Foundation focuses on innovative, interdisciplinary and, where appropriate, unconventional research projects.
  • Funding spectrum:
    • Funding for individuals (postdocs’ own positions, heads of junior research groups, financing of a teaching substitute)
    • Research Project
    • Scientific events and conferences

MERCUR’s overall objective is to strengthen the three UA Ruhr universities. This is done, among other things, by financing preparatory work for larger joint projects.

  • Funding profile:
    • The funding of MERCUR is open to all disciplines and topics.
    • It supports sustainable structure-building projects in research, teaching, and administration at the three UA Ruhr-Universities with a perspective for future joint activities. Accordingly, only members of the UA Ruhr-Universities are eligible to apply.
  • Funding spectrum: MERCUR offers four funding formats.
    • MERCUR SPRINT supports the full proposal phase for a Collaborative Research Center, a Transregio, a Research Training Group, or a Research Unit.
    • MERCUR COOPERATION supports inter-university projects that serve to prepare larger follow-up projects.
    • MERCUR EXCELLENCE supports the development of a joint research focus or the preparation of a cluster of excellence proposal within the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr).
    • MERCUR INNOVATION supports cooperation projects within the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr) in the fields of teaching, administration, or transfer.

In contrast to the Volkswagen Foundation and MERCUR, the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Federal Environmental Foundation) has a strong focus on specific topics.

  • Funding profile: The DBU supports innovative projects to protect the environment.
    • Pure basic research is not funded; the projects must have a concrete implementation perspective.
    • Cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises is desired.
  • Funding spectrum:
    • Project funding (with own contributions!): Both topic-bound funding (on defined funding topics) and open-topic funding is offered.
    • Funding for individuals: PhD scholarships

The Hans Böckler Foundation is a foundation with close ties to the trade unions and supports research projects on topics related to the world of work.

  • Funding profile: Key topics on the world of work and trade unions
  • Funding spectrum:
    • Project Funding
    • Support for doctorates
    • Student support

The Fritz Thyssen Foundation is dedicated to the promotion of research and early career researchers – with a clear disciplinary focus.

  • Funding profile: The funding programs aim at the humanities, social sciences, and biomedicine. The individual funding measures must always relate thematically to one of the funding areas.
  • Funding spectrum:
    • Project funding (including the possibility of recruiting postdocs for their own positions)
    • Conferences
    • Funding for individuals: Research grants (for postdocs, no doctoral funding!)
    • Travel grants (but no congress trips, only research trips connected to a project)
    • Printing subsidies (only for publications resulting from projects or events supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung)
Application processes at TU Dortmund University


Before submitting an application, you must consider the following aspects:

The preparation of applications for external funding follows standard processes at the TU Dortmund University, which ensure both that researchers receive the best possible support and that formalities and deadlines can be fulfilled or met.

Application processes

Consulting services

Services and contact persons

The Research Support Services offers a wide range of services related to the acquisition of third-party funding and application procedures. For foundations, the team of Grants Services responsible for your Department will be happy to advise you

  • in the selection of a suitable funding for your project,
  • with regard to the specific requirements of the respective foundation and
  • through strategic feedback on your application.
Team photo of Grants Services © OK et al. ​/​ TU Dortmund

Further information