Young Investigator Groups
Helmholtz Young Investigator Groups (YIGs) are formed by granting an outstanding postdoctoral researcher €300,000 annual funding for six years to create a new research group. The grant is awarded through a competitive call early in each year. The call 2017 is online.
The main criterion for receiving the grant is having a proposal which demonstrates scientific excellence in one of the Helmholtz Association's six fields of research.
Researchers with between two- and six-years' postdoctoral experience are eligible to apply. The six-year limit may be extended in certain circumstances, for instance for parental leave or where the subject subject requires a researcher to be dual qualified in medicine and scientific research).
Young Investigator Group leaders are encouraged to develop the academic independence which secures their long-term career. YIGs have been funded by the Initiative and Networking Fund (or President's Strategic Fund) since 2003. About 200 early career researchers have won funding for their ideas. Most of the awards have gone to foreigners or Germans returning from an extended research appointment abroad. It is important for prospective applicants to consider whether or not their research profile is sufficiently international.
Note: the Helmholtz Research Centres are also host junior research group leaders who gain their funding from other sources (for example, the DFG). There is a strong community of junior research group leaders within the Helmholtz Association as a whole.
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.