Swiss experts participate in evaluation of German Excellence Initiative

Dieter Imboden, former president of the SNSF Research Council. © SNSF

The Excellence Initiative launched in 2005 to sustainably strengthen research in Germany will be evaluated by a commission of international experts as of the end of September 2014. The commission will be chaired by Dieter Imboden, the former president of the National Research Council of the SNSF.

The aim of the Excellence Initiative is to sustainably strengthen research in Germany, make it internationally more competitive and increase the visibility of cutting-edge science conducted at German universities, the Joint Science Conference (GWK) writes in its communiqué. For this purpose, the German federal government and the federal states made approximately EUR 4.6 billion available to the German higher education institutions in two funding phases. After running for almost ten years, the programme and its impacts on the German science system are now to be evaluated. The commission of experts appointed by the GWK will begin its work at an inaugural meeting on 23 September 2014 and will define its procedures independently.

Participating Swiss scientists

The GWK communiqué goes on to say that, in Dieter Imboden, the organisation has found an internationally recognised scientist and science manager to chair the commission of experts. From 2005 to 2012, he presided over the National Research Council of the SNSF and from January 2009 to October 2011 also over EUROHORCs, the association of the heads of European research funding agencies. Two other Swiss scientists will also sit on the commission: Felicitas Pauss, professor of experimental particle physics at ETH Zurich and vice president of the Foundation Council of the SNSF, and Daniel Scheidegger, professor of anaesthesiology at the University of Basel and former president of the Biology and Medicine division of the SNSF Research Council. The SNSF is pleased about this acknowledgement of Swiss research competencies. It underlines the importance of international networking in research.

Results expected in 2016

The evaluation has been scheduled for a stage where the implementation of the funded projects is already sufficiently advanced, so that the commission's final report can made available to political decision-makers. The body under Swiss chairmanship will present its evaluation results in January 2016. The programme is due to run till the end of 2017.