Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future

The initiative focuses on joint, integrative research approaches in the social sciences and the engineering sciences. Against the background of the current and emerging developments in the field of “Artificial Intelligence” the Foundation wishes to support projects dealing with the development of new perspectives and insights with a view to shaping the future of society as well as technology. The aim is to enable novel project constellations and interdisciplinary cooperations in a scientific and socially highly topical area through a shift in thinking towards new perspectives and solutions.

An essential challenge and at the same time a special opportunity for the participating disciplines lies in the joint development of a specific topic and the associated research issues as well as in the necessary expansion of the respective range of methods. 

Scope of Funding

The funding initiative is aimed primarily at postdoctoral researchers and professors at all career levels in the social and engineering sciences who devote themselves to the challenges of artificial intelligence and society in interdisciplinary research constellations. The integration of the humanities is welcome. In addition to a substantial, longer-term project funding, one-year planning grants can be applied for upfront. 

  • Planning Grant
    In view of the required "new Quality" of the interdisciplinary cooperation and the associated challenges for the project partners involved, the Foundation offers the option to apply for a planning grant with a duration of nine to twelve months and a maximum funding amount of EUR 150,000 in advance of submitting a full application. The financial support for this “orientation phase” is intended, among other things, to enable the composition of a suitable project team, the identification of a connecting topic, and the preparation as well as formulation of a full proposal (full grant).
  • Funding of the Full Proposal (Full Grant)
    For longer-term work on a research topic developed by the consortium, applicants may apply for a total funding amount of maximum EUR 1.5 million for a duration of up to four years for projects involving up to five working groups.

General Conditions

This call targets postdoctoral researchers and professors at all career levels who are employed by a university or research institute. The application consortium must have expertise in engineering, social sciences and / or humanities. The full proposal must be submitted by an institution in Germany, the participation of researchers from abroad is welcome. The Foundation covers all project-related costs; however, general overheads cannot be granted. The Foundation can only grant funding to academic institutions.

The Foundation does not process applications that have already been submitted in the same or a similar form to other funding organizations.

Application and Selection Procedure

The applications for both funding lines, "Planning Grant" and "Full Grant", are to be submitted by the resepective deadline in electronic form via the Foundation’s Application Portal together with the documents listed in Section V (Application Checklist). Applications are to be made jointly by the respon-sible researchers respectively. Following an internal assessment by the Foundation, an international and interdisciplinary expert panel reviews the quality, potential and originality of the projects and the integrative research approach as well as the qualification of the participating researchers.

There is a one-stage selection procedure for a planning grant which takes place on a written basis of the respective application. For a "full grant" a two-stage selection procedure is envisaged. Here, the application must be accompanied by a maximum five-page synopsis of the project on the basis of which the most promising projects are selected in an initial selection round. The project consortia of these projects are expected to be invited by the Foundation to present their projects in mid-October 2019 (2nd stage of the selection procedure). The final decisions on applications are expected to be communicated in early December 2019.

Please note that due to high numbers of applications, the Foundation cannot provide feedback on pre-proposals that were not successful.

Assessment is based on the following points:

  • Relevance of the topic, innovative content, quality, and originality
  • Need and added value of interdisciplinary cooperation
  • Potential for new methodological approaches
  • Expected advancement of the existing knowledge base
  • Composition of the application team.
Application date
Up to 4 years