Funding Requirements

  1. Which funding options does MERCUR offer?

Members of the three UA Ruhr universities may apply for grants for the following purposes:

  • collaborative research projects between the universities (project funding),
  • creating and developing joint Master’s and PhD programs at UA Ruhr as well as establishing collaborative teaching formats (structural funding – PhD programs; structural funding – Master’s degrees; structural funding – teaching projects),
  • creation of UA Ruhr professorships (individual funding),
  • specific and prompt support for small-scale (research) projects (start-up funding),
  • joint projects between the universities’ administrative and managerial departments (MERCUR.Admin),
  • strategic coordination among faculties and larger institutions across all three universities (MERCUR.Strategie),
  • optimum preparation for the assessment of coordinated joint enterprises (MERCUR.Sprint).

In addition, the MERCUR conference facilities are available for meetings and workshops under the umbrella of MERCUR.Forum.

  1. Follow-up activities

MERCUR aims at providing funding to kick-start sustainable structural development. This is why the organization typically supports projects that are intended to acquire additional third-party funding in the long term (e.g. from DFG, EU, BMBF) or – in the case of degree courses or PhD programs – will be continued by the respective universities. Strategical processes are supposed to pursue a clearly-defined objective and to lay a stable foundation for future collaborations. The amount of external funding for follow-up project is expected to significantly exceed the funds provided by MERCUR.

  1. Who can apply?

In the project and structural funding programs, the group of eligible applicants includes PhD graduates who are employed as university lecturers or junior lecturers (associate professors, junior professors, heads of junior research groups etc.) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, TU Dortmund University, or the University of Duisburg-Essen. Start-up funding is restricted to junior PhD researchers (up to ten years after PhD graduation) and professors who have been newly appointed to the respective university (typically up to three years after taking up employment at the respective university; including employment at the same university immediately prior to the appointment, e.g. as junior professor).

The deans of the participating faculties resp. heads of the participating institutions are eligible to apply in the MERCUR.Strategie program; applications for individual funding may be filed by the respective university’s executive board, and for MERCUR.Sprint by the designated spokesperson of the respective initiative.

MERCUR.Forum is open to researchers as well as to members of the universities’ administrative and managerial departments, while MERCUR.Admin specifically addresses the two latter target groups.

Typically, the projects must have an inter-university character and applicants must come from at least two UA Ruhr universities. Applications by individual universities may only be filed for the start-up funding program and MERCUR.Sprint.

  1. Excluded from MERCUR funding
  • infrastructural projects,
  • collaboration partners from the industry or service providers (for both direct and indirect funding),
  • application for the current position. In case of applicants currently holding a fixed-term position, their contract of employment with the respective university should cover the period of time necessary to complete the research endeavor for which the application is filed and must cover the calculated project duration at the very least.
  1. Who makes the funding decision?

Funding decisions in the project, individual, structural, and start-up funding programs are made by an Academic Advisory Council of eight renowned researchers who are not directly affiliated with any of the UA Ruhr universities. The decision-making process is science-based and encompasses an external assessment in accordance with the standards of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). The MERCUR.Forum, MERCUR.Admin, MERCUR.Strategie, and MERCUR.Sprint programs undergo a shortened decision-making process.

  1. Additional information

Please consult the detailed descriptions of individual funding programs.


– Current Request for Proposal
– Funding guidelines


Sven Speek
Program coordinator
Phone: 0201-61 69 65-13
Fax: 0201-61 69 65-10
Email: sven.speek(at)mercur-research(dot)de