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Helmholtz Investigator Groups

We support young top researchers: Internationally outstanding postdocs are given the opportunity to establish their own research group at Helmholtz.

Following a competitive selection process, up to nine of these junior research groups are launched each year. We fund them for five years with a total of at least 1.5 million euros.

This is how many talented researchers start their independent scientific career. After all, those who head a Helmholtz Investigators Group have the chance to further establish themselves in their field of research and achieve high visibility in the scientific community. In addition, the junior research group leaders take part in the Helmholtz Leadership Academy training program.

The research groups work closely with a university partner. In this way, the leaders also gain valuable experience in teaching, build important networks, and acquire all the qualifications for a successful scientific career.

The program also offers a reliable perspective: After a positive evaluation, heads of junior research groups receive a permanent position at their Helmholtz Center.

More than 250 postdocs have already been supported in this way. Most of them were appointed to a university while still leading their group or directly afterwards.

Target group

The program is aimed at junior staff whose academic age is two and six years. Periods of child-rearing that fall within the postdoc phase can be credited, as can other justified periods of absence.

In addition, candidates must have relevant experience abroad: They must have worked internationally for at least six months, either during their doctoral or in the postdoc phase.

Selection Procedure

1. Apply with your research project directly to a Helmholtz Center (contact is possible all year round). The Helmholtz Center will carry out the pre-selection and set the application deadlines. For further information, please contact the relevant contact person at the Center (for list of contact persons see latest call).

2. Once you have been nominated, the Helmholtz Head Office will usually obtain at least two scientific reviews of your proposal.

3. Approximately 18 applicants are invited to the final selection round. They present themselves to an interdisciplinary, international panel chaired by the President of the Helmholtz Association. This panel selects up to nine Young Investigator Research Groups for funding each year.

Calls for application

The most successful Helmholtz funding program advances careers

The Helmholtz Association has funded a total of 265 Helmholtz Investigator Groups since the start of the program 20 years ago. We asked some of the program’s participants to give us an insight into how they experienced this time.

Read testimonials and interviews

As curious as we are? Discover more.