Young Investigator Groups

Young Investigator Group Leaders

With its Helmholtz Young Investigator Groups Program, the Association offers internationally outstanding postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to create their own research group. Following a call issued in January each year and a highly competitive selection procedure, funding is awarded for up to 20 Young Investigator Groups. The call 2018 is online. Successful applicants receive at least 1.8 Million Euro over a period of six years.

You will be eligible to apply if you have between two and six years of postdoctoral experience, research experience abroad and, of course, an exceptionally strong research proposal consistent with the Helmholtz Association’s six fields of Research.

As a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group Leader, you will benefit from early academic independence combined with high-quality leadership training at the Helmholtz Management Academy, including mentoring and coaching. You work in close cooperation with a university partner, gain valuable teaching experience and acquire the qualifications and the network needed for a scientific career in Germany.

The program is designed to provide certain career perspectives: Subject to a positive evaluation, you will be offered a permanent position at your Helmholtz Research Center. The program has supportedmore than 200 Young Investigator Group leaders so far – most of them have been offered a tenured professorship at a university during their funding period or shortly afterwards.

There is a strong community of junior research group leaders within the Helmholtz Association which comprises not only the Helmholtz Young Investigator Group Leaders but also junior research group leaders funded from other internal and external sources.

Young Investigator Group (YIG) Leaders' Benefits

A Young Investigator Group leader is supported to develop academic independence as soon as possible to be able to lead their research group.  Receiving an award of €300,000 in funding per year for six years places a responsibility on an early career researcher and the Helmholtz Association supports YIG leaders in meeting the challenge of taking this responsibility. 

First, internationally-recognised research requires excellent science infrastructure and the Helmholtz Association specialises in managing Germany's large-scale science infrastructure projects.  The infrastructure is available to Young Investigator Groups.   

Second, it is important to maintain international networks and the 18 Helmholtz research centres are highly internationalized.

Third, Young Investigators Group leaders work in cooperation with universities, and are given every chance to gain teaching experience and to acquire the qualifications necessary for a university career. Mostly, Young Investigators Group leaders become tenured professors during their funding period or shortly after.

Fourth, a tailored training and mentoring programme has been developed for the young researcher leaders. Training ranges from needing to know about financial controls, human resources training, personal mentoring and training in leadership styles.  (See the pages on the Helmholtz Management Academy.) 

This level of support helps ensure that YIG leaders have successful careers.

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  • Photo of Johannes Freudenreich
    • Dr. Johannes Freudenreich
    • Promotion of young and early-stage researchers
      Helmholtz Association