[visionlist] Bernstein Award 2008, call for proposals

Matthias Bethge mbethge at tuebingen.mpg.de
Thu Apr 10 08:05:05 PDT 2008

Dear colleagues,

within the Bernstein Network for Computational Neuroscience, the  
German Federal Ministry of of Education and Research (BMBF) has once  
more announced a call for proposals for the 'Bernstein Award 2008'.  
This grant allows young researchers of any nationality to get fundig  
(up to 1.25 M€, over a period of 5 years) for their own, independent  
research group, to be installed at any German University or research  

Please find the complete announcement on the webpage:

or see below.

of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
from Regulations for the "Bernstein Award" Funding Initiative
within the framework of the
National Network for Computational Neuroscience


1. Funding purpose and legal basis
1.1 Funding purpose

Computational Neuroscience is a very dynamic research discipline in  
the field of the neurosciences. With its interdisciplinary approach  
and systematic cooperation between biology, medicine, physics,  
mathematics and computer science, this research area promises the  
accelerated generation of new findings as well as major impetus for  
application-oriented fields such as health research, information  
technology and education.

The BMBF has established four "Bernstein Centres for Computational  
Neuroscience" (http://www.bernstein-zentren.de/en/index.php) within  
the framework of its "National Network for Computational Neuroscience"  
funding activity. These high-performing centres are the main  
structural elements of the National Network. This means that a new  
structure has been created which is necessary for developing a new  
quality in Computational Neuroscience, for networking this research  
area and for promoting its international visibility.

It is particularly important to attract excellent young researchers in  
order to lastingly establish and strengthen Computational Neuroscience  
as a field of research in Germany. The Bernstein Centres contribute  
substantially to achieving this goal with their concepts for  
supporting junior researchers by means of study programmes and  
postgraduate research groups. But there is also a great need to  
attract and support young researchers at the level of research group  
leaders, where they will be able to develop their own research  
profiles and attain greater scientific independence by establishing  
and heading their own junior research groups.

The "Bernstein Award" funding activity aims to support research  
projects in the field of Computational Neuroscience, thus enabling  
excellent young researchers working in this field to implement  
innovative project ideas in Computational Neuroscience in the German  
research environment. This is intended to promote the academic  
qualification of these outstanding young researchers, among other  
things. The projects supported under the "Bernstein Award" initiative  
will become an integral part of the National Network for Computational  
Neuroscience and give new impetus to scientific activities.

As announced in the funding regulations for the "Bernstein Award"  
initiative of 21 March 2006, the Federal Ministry of Education and  
Research intends to support one research project under this initiative  
in 2008.

1.2. Legal basis

Project grants can be awarded in accordance with the present funding  
regulations, the BMBF's standard terms and conditions for grants on  
expenditure or cost basis and the administrative regulations under  
section 44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO). Applicants have no legal  
claim to a grant. The grant-awarding agency will decide freely after  
due assessment of the circumstances within the framework of the budget  
funds available.

2. Object of funding

Funding is provided for research projects which have been designed by  
German or non-German young scientists (post-docs) and which will be  
carried out by these young scientists at a German research  
institution. Researchers are expected to furnish evidence of  
extraordinary scientific achievements in the field of Computational  
Neuroscience. By realizing research projects which they have designed  
and will supervise themselves and by establishing their own junior  
research group, the young project leaders are to be given an  
opportunity to conduct independent research. The funded research  
projects are to be conducted at a German university or scientific  
institution (see section 3 below) within or outside the Bernstein  

The funded projects of the young researchers are to be integrated in  
the National Network for Computational Neuroscience in order to  
strengthen this network. The young researchers should therefore  
participate in the annual workshops and status seminars of the  
Bernstein Centres. The purpose of the status seminars is to facilitate  
exchanges on the progress and results of research and to promote  
networking between the Bernstein Centres.

3. Grant recipients

Research proposals may be submitted by institutions of higher  
education and non-university research institutions based in Germany.  
Research institutions which receive joint basic funding from the  
Federal Government and the Länder can only be awarded project funding  
to cover their additional expenditure under certain conditions.

4. Prerequisites for funding

Funding under the "Bernstein Award" initiative is only provided for  
innovative research projects which have been designed by outstanding  
post-docs and will be conducted by them at a university or non- 
university research institution in Germany (see sections 2 and 3  
above). A project will only be eligible for funding if the university  
or research institution concerned employs the young researcher during  
the funding period. Furthermore, the host institution is expected to  
provide the working facilities required for carrying out the project  
(basic equipment in terms of laboratory space and other  
infrastructure) and to support the young researcher in all matters. A  
statement made to that effect by the host institution must be included  
with the project outline to be submitted in accordance with section  
7.2.1 below.

In their own interest, applicants should familiarize themselves with  
the EU's Research Framework Programme in the context of the planned  
national project. They should check whether the planned project  
includes specific European components which make it eligible for  
exclusive EU funding. Applicants should also examine whether a  
supplementary application for funding can be submitted to the EU in  
the context of the planned national project. Applicants should briefly  
state the results of these investigations in their national application

5. Type, scope and rates of funding

Project funding may be awarded in the form of non-repayable grants.

Grants for universities, research and science institutions and similar  
establishments will be calculated on the basis of the project-related  
expenditure eligible for funding (grants for Helmholtz centres and the  
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (FhG) will be calculated on the basis of the  
project-related costs eligible for funding); in individual cases, up  
to 100 per cent of this expenditure/these costs can be funded.

The European Commission's Community Framework for State Aid for  
Research and Development must be taken into account when fixing the  
rates of funding. The Community Framework allows differentiated rules  
on extra percentage points for collaborative projects proposed by  
applicants from the new German Länder and for small and medium-sized  
enterprises (SMEs), which may result in a higher rate of funding.

Under the "Bernstein Award" initiative, funding will be provided for  
one research project per year to the extent that this is possible  
within the confines of relevant medium-term fiscal planning. The  
maximum funding period for each individual project is five years.  
Funding for each individual project can amount to up to €1.25 million  
over the entire project period.

During the project period, funding can be provided for the salary of  
the young project leader (up to salary group E14 TVöD or Ib BAT), for  
up to two positions for further scientific staff (E13 TVöD or IIa  
BAT), and for the required technical personnel in accordance with the  
relevant collective agreements. Funding cannot be provided for posts  
which are financed from public funds. Equipment and investment costs  
will be reimbursed in accordance with the other terms and conditions  
which are applicable (see sections 6 and 7 below, for example).

6. Other terms and conditions for awarding funds

The Auxiliary Terms and Conditions for Funds Provided by the BMBF to  
Commercial Companies for Research and Development Projects on a Cost  
Basis (Nebenbestimmungen für Zuwendungen auf Kostenbasis des BMBF an  
Unternehmen der gewerblichen Wirtschaft für Forschungs- und  
Entwicklungsvorhaben - NKBF 98) will be part of the notification of  
award for grants on a cost basis.

The General Auxiliary Conditions for Grants for the Promotion of  
Projects (Allgemeine Nebenbestimmungen für Zuwendungen zur  
Projektförderung - ANBest-P) and the Special Auxiliary Terms and  
Conditions for Funds Provided by the BMBF for the Promotion of  
Projects on an Expenditure Basis (Besondere Nebenbestimmungen für  
Zuwendungen des BMBF zur Projektförderung auf Ausgabenbasis - BNBest- 
BMBF 98) will be part of the notification of award for grants on an  
expenditure basis.

7. Procedure
7.1. Involvement of a project management organization and request for  

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has commissioned the  
following project management organization to implement the funding  

Projektträger PT-DLR - Projektträger Gesundheitsforschung
Heinrich-Konen-Str. 1
53227 Bonn
Tel.: + 49 (0)228-3821 210 (Sekretariat)
Fax: + 49 (0)228-3821 257
Internet: http://www.dlr.de/pt/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-4270/6848_read-6936/

The contact is Dr. Krüger (Tel.: + 49 (0)228-3821 296).

Application forms, guidelines, information for applicants and the  
auxiliary terms and conditions are available here or can be obtained  
from the project management organization. Applicants are strongly  
advised to use the electronic application system "easy" for drafting  
formal applications.

7.2 Two-tiered funding procedure
The funding procedure is two-tiered.

7.2.1 Submission and selection of project outlines

In a first step, written project outlines must be submitted by post to  
the project management organization (PT-DLR) by 2 June 2008 at the  
latest. If necessary, further selection rounds will be carried out on  
the basis of these funding regulations. The deadlines for the  
submission of project outlines will be published on http://www.gesundheitsforschung-bmbf.de/en/175.php 
  in due course.

With a view to the international evaluation procedure, it is  
recommended that the project outlines be submitted to the PT-DLR in  
English. The deadline for submission is not a cut-off deadline.  
However, it may prove impossible to consider project outlines which  
are received after that date.

Young German and non-German researchers who meet the criteria set out  
in this announcement (see section 4 above) are entitled to submit  
project outlines in agreement with the host university or research  

The project outlines must include a description structured along the  
following lines:

* Name of the young researcher, full office address, contact details  
(phone, fax, e-mail).
* A meaningful CV (up to five pages, Arial 11 pt) which includes  
achievements in Computational Neuroscience (e. g. supervision of young  
researchers, national and international cooperation, raising of  
external funds, invitations to or hosting of conferences, membership  
of editorial boards of relevant scientific journals, expert opinions,  
other activities)
* List of publications
* Preliminary project description for the research programme of the  
entire proposed junior research group, including all planned  
scientific and technical staff members (up to ten pages Arial 11 pt)  
and a financial plan
* Statement from the university or research institution at which the  
research programme is to be carried out confirming that the young  
researcher will be provided with the working facilities needed to  
perform the project (basic equipment in terms of laboratory space and  
other infrastructure) and will be supported in all matters.

Applicants are requested to submit 10 copies of their outlines.

No legal claims can be derived from the submission of a project outline.

The evaluation of the project outlines received will involve external  
experts and be based on the following criteria:

1. Previous achievements of the young researcher in the field of  
Computational Neuroscience
* Scientific work including publications
* Supervisory activities
* International activities
* Other activities (raising of external funds, etc.)
2. Quality of the proposed research programme
* Scientific and methodical quality
* Scientific expertise of the applicant
* Innovative potential
* Relevance to the research focuses of the host institution

A suitable project idea will be selected for funding on the basis of  
the evaluation. The applicants will be informed in writing about the  
result of the selection procedure.

7.2.2 Submission of formal applications and decision-making procedure

In a second step, applicants whose project outlines have received a  
positive evaluation will be invited to submit (within six weeks of the  
invitation) a formal application of the institution where the research  
project is to be carried out; a decision on this formal application  
will be taken after the final evaluation.

The approval, payment of and accounting for the funds as well as proof  
and examination of proper use and, if necessary, the revocation of the  
award and reclaiming of the funds awarded are governed by the  
administrative regulations pertaining to section 44 of the Federal  
Budget Code (BHO) and sections 48 to 49a of the Administrative  
Procedure Act (VwVfG) unless deviation is allowed under the present  
funding regulations.

8. Entry into force

These funding regulations will enter into force on the date of  
publication in the Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger).

Berlin, 29 October 2007
Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Dr. Christiane Buchholz
Molecular Life Sciences Division

Dr. Matthias Bethge,  Group Leader
Computational Vision & Neuroscience Group
MPI for Biological Cybernetics,  T"ubingen
[   http://www.kyb.mpg.de/bethgegroup/   ]

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