University of Excellence

At KIT, as at no other German science institution, we are living the integration of university and non-university research. “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association” stands for excellent research, outstanding academic education, and future-oriented innovation. As one of eleven universities of excellence in Germany, we are strengthening excellent research -  from fundamental research to application -, maintain close exchange with society, and offer reliable career paths for young scientists.

The leitmotiv of KIT’s successful proposal is “Living the Change.” It addresses societal change that KIT wishes to shape by excellent achievements in science, academic education, and innovation in close dialog with society. “Living the Change” also addresses cultural change of the entire institution to respond more dynamically to internal and external changes and to preserve its institutional renewability. This cultural change shall be pushed in particular with respect to equality and equity of opportunities as well as diversity. To significantly accelerate this cultural change, KIT will establish 100 new professorships within the next ten years.

KIT’s excellence strategy pursues the following four goals:

  • Enhancing performance and agility of top-level research.
  • Developing awareness of responsibility.
  • Enhancing attractiveness for excellent young scientists.
  • Promoting institutional cultural change on the basis of the KIT 2025 Umbrella Strategy.

These goals are pursued by projects organized in three packages of measures, called thrusts: “Strengthening Excellent Research,” “Promoting Research by Exchange with Society,” and “Providing Reliable Career Paths for Young Researchers.”


Strengthening Excellent Research

Strengthening excellent research (thrust A) is aimed at further enhancing research performance and agility over the complete spectrum of work. To respond to the challenges facing society, additional research areas shall be identified and further developed. In internal competition, KIT will promote highly innovative projects at the frontiers and interfaces of disciplines, which are expected to give rise to scientific breakthroughs. Existing mechanisms of granting startup funding will be expanded to a comprehensive program for specifically enhancing flexibility in science and improving framework conditions for the development of future-oriented research areas to big research alliances. For recruiting outstanding scientists, KIT will establish professorships in the spirit of the visionary Karlsruhe scientist Otto Lehmann and support them in competing for an Alexander von Humboldt professorship.

In addition, it is planned

  • to strengthen the scientific capabilities of KIT centers,
  • to intensify cooperation with our strategic partner universities Heidelberg (HeiKA), Ulm (CELEST), and our partners in the Eucor Association (universities of Freiburg, Basel, Strasbourg, Haute-Alsace),
  • to invite international top scientists as guest professors, and
  • to develop research data management at KIT.


Promoting Research by Exchange with Society

Promoting research by exchange with society (thrust B) is of high priority to KIT. It is aimed at further establishing KIT as a research university rooted in society. KIT will advance its successful concept of real-world laboratories, among others in the area of autonomous driving. Real-world labs are places, where researchers study and test new technologies in a real environment together with stakeholders and citizens in order to develop scientifically excellent and viable solutions. Together with the already existing real-world labs, such as the District Future in the Oststadt district of Karlsruhe, they will create an ideal basis for future-oriented preventative research.

The issues addressed by these real-world labs and the associated societal needs will also be subject of the KIT Science Week which is planned to be held every two years. The Science Week will combine a scientific conference involving top-level scientists with dialog platforms for exchange with citizens and other public science events in collaboration with the city of Karlsruhe and regional stakeholders. Through enhanced dialog with the public, KIT intends to consider societal feedback on science in setting its research agenda.

Responsibility for society and the environment in research, teaching, and innovation will also be in the focus of the planned KIT Academy for Responsible Research, Teaching, and Innovation (ARRTI). It is aimed at qualifying students and researchers for reflected and ethical handling of scientific progress.


Reallabor Quartier Zukunft Karlsruhe
Real-world -labs
Young Scientists at the KATRIN experiment
An important career step is leading a junior research group.

Reliable Career Paths for Young Researchers

Another key element of the successful proposal is providing reliable academic careers (thrust C), among others by establishing a university-wide tenure-track scheme. KIT wishes to attract excellent young researchers in the early phase of their careers already and offers them qualification and support services for orientation at KIT, career planning, and writing a proposal for a junior research group of their own. To enhance the attractiveness of a successful scientific career during studies already, KIT will also extend research-oriented teaching offers at some of its fascinating research infrastructures.