Start your own research group in Germany

By Joern Fischer

Today, I received a message from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, announcing the latest Sofja-Kovalevskaja funding round. This is an outstanding funding instrument — arguably one of the nicest grants one could possibly get. The administrative burden is fairly low and the flexibility of the research programme is high. The award is suitable for people within a few years of their PhDs who have an unusually strong track record (otherwise there is no point in trying). As part of the application, a host institute is needed. If you are interested in pursuing this funding option in an area related to my interests, please let me know. My own funding through this scheme finishes up this year, but given my positive experiences with this programme, I would be happy to consider hosting somebody with a suitable profile and interests.

Here is the message from the Humboldt Foundation:

With the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is offering promising young researchers from all over the world attractive career prospects in Germany. Junior research talents of all disciplines from abroad are given the opportunity to establish working groups of their own at German research institutions.

The Sofja Kovalevskaja Award recognises outstanding talent and creative research approaches with exceptional conditions: With an award amount of up to €1.65 million each winner receives valuable starting capital to spend five years pursuing an innovative research project at a research institute of his or her choice – untroubled by administrative constraints. In addition, the establishment of their own junior research team enables the award winners to lay an important foundation for a promising academic career at a very early stage. Eight awards are expected to be granted.

Outstandingly qualified junior academics of all disciplines from abroad who completed their doctorate less than six years ago are eligible to apply for the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award. It is also possible to submit applications immediately after finishing one’s doctoral studies. Applications must be submitted by 31 July 2015

We should be very grateful if you would support our search for young international research personalities by disseminating this announcement at your institution and also asking your colleagues to draw the attention of appropriately qualified research talents to this academic award.

Details of the application procedure for the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award can be found on our website at: For individual questions, you are also welcome to contact


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