Early Career Research Groups

Overview of Early Career Research Group Models

In addition to the traditional habilitation, the current research landscape in Germany offers alternative routes to qualify for a professorship – either through direct appointment as an assistant professor or by heading an early career research group. A variety of early career research groups are hosted by or associated to TU Darmstadt. The university generally promotes the high scientific autonomy of the early career research group leaders by assigning them examination rights and a teaching load as part of their subsequent appointment to an assistant professorship in an ad personam process.

We summarise the most common university-related early career research group models below:


Emmy Noether Programme

Excellent young researchers with at least two years of international postdoc experience can apply for the competitive Emmy Noether Programme of the DFG . By heading an Emmy Noether research group with a maximum funding period of 5 years they can directly qualify for a professorship.

Emmy Noether research groups at TU Darmstadt

UNICO Research Groups


ERC Starting Grants

Starting grants offered by the European Research Council (ERC) for promoting early career researchers focus primarily on the excellence of the research project and the already demonstrated scientific autonomy and independence from the supervisor of the doctoral thesis. The early career research group can be based at a private or public research institution, funding is provided for up to 5 years. go

Our EU for You! – The EU-Support Agency would be pleased to provide you with advice on the ERC funding lines.

ERC Starting Grants at TU Darmstadt


Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups

Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups can be based at a Helmholtz centre or at a partner university. The topics covered by the group must be compatible with both a Heimholtz programme and, at the same time, the core focus of the university or the department. The funding programme is designed for talented postdocs with proven experience abroad. Applications can only be submitted during a call for proposals.

Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups at TU Darmstadt


Sofja Kovalevskaja Award

This prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and awarded to young international researchers, enabling them to develop a scientific career in Germany. Applicants for the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award should build on their previous outstanding achievements and conduct innovative research when heading the early career research group funded by the prize money.

Sofja Kovalevskaja Award Winners at TU Darmstadt


'Freigeist' Fellowship

With the 'Freigeist' Fellowship, the Volkswagen Foundation promotes innovative early career research groups carrying out research at the boundaries between established fields of research. Candidates must already have changed their academic environment and moved to a new location – at the latest when starting the Fellowship. The required research stay abroad can be integrated in the proposed research project.

'Freigeist' Fellows at TU Darmstadt


Young Investigator Group

The Athene Young Investigator programme encourages the independence of outstanding established researchers at our institution, who pursue an academic career as a professor: The right to supervise doctoral students and a discipline-specific budget will be assigned for a maximum of 5 years.

The financing of your own and an additional PhD position is needed.

Young Investigator Group


UNICO Research Groups

TU Darmstadt has introduced University Industry Collaborative (UNICO) Research Groups especially for the area of industry-oriented engineering sciences. UNICO group leaders carry out research that is closely linked to industry and thus also gain the required qualifications for an industrial career as well as a professorship. The groups are based within a research group/ institute of the university and thus benefit from the existing infrastructure, as well as from the industry and university-based relationships of its leading scientist. The next call for applications is currently being prepared. go