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Excellence Planning Grants 2021 - Phase 1


In June 2021, FWF started the excellence funding programme excellent=Austria with a call for Clusters of Excellence (CoE). CoEs have a duration of 60 + 60 months. The annual budget for each CoE is between € 2m to € 7m. For the selection of the CoE, FWF employs a multi-stage selection procedure. The main goal is to “support outstanding basic research – open topic, in line with the highest international standards, and with plenty of freedom for unconventional approaches”.

With its Excellence Planning Grants, WWTF intends to fund Viennese universities and research institutions for activities regarding writing a proposal for the FWF CoE. The aim of the planning grants is to provide additional resources (via financial support) to help to increase success rates of “Viennese” proposals, in favor of the scientific competitiveness of Vienna. WWTF thereby supports the work intensive phases (concept and full proposal stages) in the multistage application process for the CoE. 


Eligible research institutions:

All Viennese research institutions acting as lead research institution for a CoE are eligible for funding in case a respective Letter of Intent was submitted to FWF by August 16, 2021. For each Vienna-led Letter of Intent (the number of the letters per institution is limited by FWF) a corresponding application for a planning grant can be submitted to WWTF. This applies to both the concept proposal phase and the full proposal phase for CoE, i.e., if a concept proposal is invited for a full proposal by FWF, another planning grant application can be submitted to WWTF later on.


Maximum funding for each planning grant:

The maximum funding for an Excellence planning grant is € 30.000.

In the application to WWTF we do not require information how the funding will be spent. The expenses will be settled at the end of the project. Expenses have then to be reported in the WWTF online reporting system. Recognized costs will be reimbursed to the research institution. See below for a demonstrative list of eligible costs. Please contact WWTF in case if you are not sure if certain costs will be accepted.


Submission of applications for a WWTF Excellence Planning Grant:

Due to the small funding volume, the lack of a “project” to decide upon, the need for a quick turnaround in the decision making and the short duration of the funding, WWTF will employ a strongly simplified application process and will require only the submission of already existing documents:

  • Section 1 of the Letter of Intent to FWF
  • Excerpts from PROFI elane indicating the participating researchers and research institutions

The application shall be submitted to WWTF by the heads of the research institutions (rectorates, managing directors). The heads of the research institutions shall also inform the coordinators of the CoE about the planning grants funding at WWTF and ask them if they want to apply for it.   

Deadline for the submission to WWTF is 3.9.2021 via E-Mail to


Decision making process:

The WWTF Board of Directors will formally decide on the application in the meeting on September 23, 2021. The heads of the funded research institutions will receive a letter confirming the funding (via email). The email will also include a funding contract which has to be signed by persons authorized to sign funding contracts on behalf of the institution. The coordinator of the CoE also has to sign the contract. The funding contract will be concluded with the institution according to § 27 of the University Law (UG).

Due to the more formal nature of the decision in this call, WWTF assures that all applications fulfilling the formal requirements (see above) will receive funding. Hence, CoE coordinators may use funds already before notification about the funding from WWTF.


Eligible costs:

Planning grants funds may be used for any costs directly related to the FWF CoE application incurring between 16.8.2021 and 31.12.2021. These include in particular:

  • Personnel costs: for persons working on the proposal in terms of content, administration, and coordination. 
    • Personnel specifically employed for working on the CoE proposal and/or
    • Part-time staff may be increased to up to 100% employment the means of the Excellence Planning Grants and/or
    • Third-party funded staff may temporarily reduce funding from other projects and instead be paid through Planning Grants funds.
  • Costs for outside expert consulting services and consulting or for other work contracts (Werkverträge).
  • Travel costs to partner institutions in the consortium and travel by consortium members to the lead research institution.
  • Other material costs can only be requested to a small extent, provided that it is clearly shown they are necessary for the preparation of the proposal to FWF.

The documentation of in-kind contributions is not required.

Non-eligible costs:

  • Applications linked to a Letter of Intent rejected by FWF will not be funded by WWTF. In case that a Letter of Intent will be rejected by FWF, the research institution has to promptly inform WWTF (in case of a corresponding planning grant application)
  • Proposals that do not result in the submission of a concept proposal to FWF will not be funded.
  • Costs for research activities will not be funded, only coordination and administrative activities.
  • Overhead costs will not be funded.

In case you are not sure what costs are eligible, please contact the call manager.


Payment of the funding:

Funding of up to € 30,000 can be utilized. Payment to the research institutions / settlement will be made after the end of the concept application phase at FWF, i.e., research institutions will be required to make upfront payments to the applicants.



At the end of the funding period (December 31, 2021), a financial report must be submitted to the WWTF. This includes a cost statement with explanations for a maximum funding of € 30.000. Costs exceeding this amount will not be reimbursed. The WWTF provides a report form online for the reporting. The disbursement of funds to the research institutions will be made after the final account has been approved by the WWTF.


Planning Grants for the full proposal phase:

Proposals invited to submit a full proposal for the CoE at FWF can also apply for a further Planning Grant at WWTF. The WWTF will provide timely information for this.


Call manager and contact:

Michael Strassnig

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