Application and selection process

All proposals for a TUM Innovation Network undergo a multi-phase selection process.
  • In the first phase, the project teams submit a brief description of their idea in the Research Idea Box. A team consists of a coordinator and two to four other partners (TUM professors and/or TUM Junior Fellows).
  • The second phase is to explore the ideas selected as the most innovative in a two-day Exploratory Workshop at the TUM Institute for Advanced Study (TUM-IAS). The initiating teams will be invited to develop their most promising project ideas with additional experts. After the workshop, they will have to elaborate and submit a ten-page concept paper.

After an assessment taking external assessments into account, the TUM Innovation Networks Board forwards a shortlist of potential topics to the TUM Board of Management for a final decision on the TUM Innovation Networks to be supported.

TUM grants funding for the Innovation Networks from funds of the Excellence Strategy under the condition of a co-financing by the project teams.

Every year, two new transdisciplinary research initiatives with project teams comprising seven to ten principal investigators (TUM professors and/or TUM junior fellows) will be be chosen to receive funding to onboard an additional group of up to ten PhD candidates/postdocs and to cover equipment/resources for a total of four years. The TUM Innovation Networks strategically explore high-potential, future-focused research topics that are still in their infancy.

  • Human resources: Each TUM Innovation Network may include up to ten PhD candidates and postdocs. Due to the strong focus on supporting PhD candidates, at least two thirds of the people are PhD candidates.
  • Equipment/resources and travel expenses: Each Innovation Network is provided with up to EUR 100,000 for equipment/resources and undergraduate assistants. Each young scientist receives EUR 10,000 for the four-year funding period of the TUM Innovation Network. This funding is theirs to use for conference trips, speaker opportunities and trips abroad in line with IGSSE guidelines.
  • Matching principle: One-third of the PhD/postdoc resources must be contributed by the project team (matched contributions where project principal investigators can also contribute existing PhD/postdoc positions that align with the research focus).

TUM professors with their own cost center are entitled to submit applications acting as coordinator (TUM Innovation Network Coordinator). In the first instance, three to five principal investigators based at TUM are required to submit an initial project idea. These may be TUM professors or TUM Junior Fellows.
Further principal investigators from TUM may be added later on when the planned TUM Innovation Network is being finalized in an Exploratory Workshop (in total, a maximum of seven to ten principal investigators); external scientists or researchers can also be included as associate members (not funded by TUM).

For the award of a funding and the implementation of an Innovation Network, the following conditions must be met and measures taken into account:

  • A co-financing of at least one third of the personnal resources for PhDs/Postdocs must be provided by the project teams,
  • At least two thirds of the funded junior scientists are PhD candidates,
  • All PhD candidates in a TUM Innovation Network are members of the International Graduate School of Science and Engineering (IGSSE), must complete the IGSSE's coordinated qualification program, and are supervised by two principal investigators of the network (tandem supervision),
  • A mid-term review is carried out after two years by the IGSSE.

Idea submission
During an annual call for proposals, project partners must submit a project idea of no more than three pages in length via their coordinator using the online Idea Inbox (log in with your TUM ID). The submission should include a description of the idea and the motivation behind it as well as a brief insight into the relevant research landscape.

Evaluation from the Innovation Networks Board
The submitted project ideas are evaluated by the TUM Innovation Networks Board as well as by further TUM experts who have the requisite scientific expertise to evaluate the project snapshots. The Board is made up of the following members:

Decision of the TUM Board of Management and invitation to the Exploratory Workshops
The TUM Innovation Networks Board sends to the TUM Board of Management a shortlist of topics suitable for further development in Exploratory Workshops. Once the TUM Board of Management has made a decision, the teams who submitted the most promising project proposals are invited to participate in a dedicated, project-specific Exploratory Workshop at the TUM-IAS. During the two-day workshop, the project concept is developed further and finalized. Where necessary, further principal investigators can be included in the initial project team.

The Exploratory Workshops are held approximately six weeks after the call for proposals cut-off deadline. The TUM Innovation Networks Board may invite other internal TUM scientists and external scientists/researchers to the Exploratory Workshops. However, usually no more than 20 people may participate in an Exploratory Workshop. These workshops aims to develop the ideas and identify new questions together with experts from different fields. Supported by the IAS, the respective coordinators of the project team participate in the conceptual preparation of their workshop.

Review of the concept papers
The TUM Innovation Networks Board evaluates the final concept papers and draws up a written opinion with rankings for the TUM Board of Management, recommending which funding applications should be accepted and which should be rejected. The board may also suggest alternative funding formats (e.g. concrete preparation for a Collaborative Research Center initiative). The TUM Board of Management makes the final decision on the award of funding for up to two TUM Innovation Networks per year.