Frequently Asked Questions


1) I am currently conducting research at an institution in Canada. Is the award only open to researchers from Berlin/Germany or am I eligible to apply/be nominated?

The award is open to researchers and institutions from any part of the world. Applicants do not need to be affiliated with a German institution or be working in partnership with Berlin- or German-based institutions or researchers.

2) Is it possible for non-scientists, for example politicians, to be nominated and honored?

Yes, non-scientists can also be honored if they have advanced the quality of research findings in an outstanding manner.

3) Can the award funds also be used for non-scientific purposes?

The award funds must solely be used for scientific purposes. The Einstein Foundation expects recipients to use the award funding responsibly.

4) Is it possible to apply as part of the Individual or Institutional Awards in addition to applying for the Early Career Award?

Applicants can apply as individuals or as part of a team and/or be nominated in several categories, i.e. one person can put themselves forward for the ECR Award and also be a member of a team applying/nominated for the Organization Award.


Individual Award

1) Is it possible to nominate teams comprising more than five members?

Yes, it is also possible to nominate larger teams. However, we ask the individuals submitting nominations to limit their list to no more than five key team members, who are then nominated on behalf of the team. If successful, those nominated will be acknowledged and receive the award on behalf of their entire team.


Institutional Award

1) Is it true that governmental organizations whose applications are successful will receive the award but not the award funds?

Yes, this is correct. Governmental organizations will only be given the award, i.e. a certificate and a trophy, and will not receive the €200,000 monetary prize. The monetary prize is exclusively awarded to non-governmental organizations.

2) What defines a non-governmental organization (NGO)?

Nongovernmental organizations are independent of governmental control, i.e. they are not part of a governmental entity or operated under a governmental program, or governmental entities do not have significant influence over the use of the organization's funds, structure, or activities.


Early Career Award

1) I have been a postdoctoral researcher for 15 years and do not lead an independent research group. Am I eligible to apply for the ECR Award?

We deliberately chose not to set an age limit in this category to take account of the many career paths researchers may take. However, applicants should be aware that this award is intended explicitly for researchers who are at the beginning of their careers and that we cannot consider any applicants whose CVs demonstrate an advanced career in research.

2) I am a postdoctoral researcher in a working group but have been working on my own projects for over five years for which I have successfully secured funding. Can I apply for the ECR Award?

As you do not head your own independent group and are not an independent researcher (you are part of a working group and are under the leadership of its head), you are eligible to apply for the ECR Award.

However, please note our response to question 1 above: All applicants should be aware that this award is explicitly intended for researchers who are at the beginning of their careers. This means that we cannot consider any applicants whose CVs reflect advanced research experience.

3) Do the project descriptions also need to include details concerning project costs? Does a financial plan need to be included and should applications state how the awarded funds are to be used?

As this is not a grant but an award that aims to recognize uniquely innovative and effective approaches to improving research quality, we require neither a financial plan nor details regarding costs or the planned application of funding. Award funds should be used exclusively to support efforts to promote quality in research. However, we do expect to receive a progress report on the project two years after the award has been given.

4) Do awarded funds need to be spent within a specific period?

The Einstein Foundation specifies no time frame in which awarded funds must be used. However, we do expect a progress report on the project to be submitted two years after the award has been given.

5) Does a project need to involve Berlin-based institutions or researchers to be eligible?

There are no restrictions concerning the affiliations or nationalities of the applying researchers and their institutions. Institutions based in Berlin/Germany need not necessarily be involved in the project.

6) Are there any restrictions on how the award funds can be spent? Is it possible to fund staff, material expenses, publications, conferences, etc.?

The Early Career Award fund should be used exclusively for the proposed project’s activities as described in the application, i.e. it should be used solely to improve research quality. Apart from this, there are no restrictions regarding the use of the funds. Award recipients may spend the funds as they see fit and use the prize money to finance all activities relevant to the implementation of the award-winning project.

7) Does every member of a team need to be an ECR?

ECRs must make up the majority of the team and play, or have played, a key role in creating and implementing the project. However, the team may also include senior researchers, master and/or PhD student as well as non-scientists.

8) Am I able to submit a project that I am already in the process of implementing?

You may submit an application for a project that has already begun. Completed projects, however, cannot be considered for the ECR Award. Instead, ECRs who have successfully completed a project can be nominated in the Individual Award category.

9) Can teams with more than five members apply?

The application process is intended for teams that are either already working together or that intend to work closely on a joint project. Larger teams can apply but each application must specify no more than five key members, who will be nominated on behalf of the entire team. Please also see question 7. 

Need help?

If you have additional questions, please contact Ulrike Pannasch, Coordinator of the Einstein Foundation Award at up(at)