Clusters of Excellence
Our academics combine their leading expertise in high-performance research alliances.
Since 2006, TUM has enjoyed success in every funding round for the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments, establishing research centers of international renown in Germany as an academic and science hub. Funding currently centers on four Clusters of Excellence which effectively combine the outstanding expertise of our university with that of further scientific institutions.
e-conversion: Fundamentals of energy conversion processes
The cluster „e-conversion“ is exploring the underlying processes in the conversion of renewable energies, e.g. in photovoltaics, photocatalysis and batteries. Researchers are working to reduce energy losses occurring at the interfaces between different materials as a result of physical effects. These are crucial for the efficiency of energy conversion.
Participating institutes: TUM, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Solid State Research, MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion, MPI für Kohlenforschung, Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society
MCQST - Munich Center for Quantum Science and Technology
MCQST is examining the scientific basis for complex quantum systems and establishing the technological foundation of quantum technology, a key next-generation technology for the 21st century. The researchers address significant fields of application ranging from quantum computers, powerful quantum information systems and quantum sensors to novel quantum materials.
Participating institutes: TUM, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), MPI of Quantum Optics, Walther-Meißner-Institute of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Deutsches Museum Munich
ORIGINS: From the origin of the universe to the first building blocks of life
The cluster „ORIGINS“ is conducting research into the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the origin of life. Researchers from the fields of astrophysics, biophysics and particle physics collaborate, for example, in the search for the connection between the formation of planets and the origin of the first prebiotic molecules. Among other things, they are trying to show that life is a natural process that forms part of the evolution of the universe.
Participating institutes: TUM, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), ESO – European Southern Observatory, Leibniz Supercomputing Centre of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, MPI for Astrophysics, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, MPI for Physics, MPI of Biochemistry, MPI for Plasma Physics, Deutsches Museum Munich
SyNergy - Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology
The cluster „SyNergy“ is studying how complex neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s originate. Using systems neurology as a new interdisciplinary approach, the researchers are able to map the many processes involved in neurodegenerative, neuroimmunological and neurovascular diseases. The cluster has been receiving funding since 2012.
Participating institutes: TUM, TUM University Hospital rechts der Isar, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), LMU Hospital, MPI of Neurobiology, German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Helmholtz Munich, MPI of Biochemistry, MPI of Psychiatry
TUM as a University of Excellence
We are the only Technical University that has been consistently recognized as a University of Excellence since 2006. With this funding, we are implementing the TUM Agenda 2030 concept for the future from the Excellence Strategy, thereby accomplishing the most in-depth and far reaching modernization in the history of our university.
What is the Excellence Strategy?
With their Excellence Strategy, the federal and state governments have been supporting outstanding scientific achievements, research alliances and enhancing the profile of German universities since 2019. The funding program replaces and refines the Excellence Initiative established in 2006. It consists of two funding lines, the Clusters of Excellence in which universities and research institutes conduct joint research, and the Universities of Excellence whose preeminent position in research is to be extended.
The Excellence Strategy is conducted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Council of Science and Humanities (WR). Together they manage the selection and regular evaluation of the universities as well as research projects subsidized with this money.
The beginnings of life
The “ORIGINS” cluster is presented in episode 19 of the podcast.
Clusters since 2006
The CIPSM-Cluster took a holistic approach to studying the properties of proteins and their networks using methods drawn from genetics, (bio)chemistry and (bio)physics. By gaining a greater understanding of the properties and functions of proteins, scientists can learn more about their biological role and the causes of serious diseases, and find new forms of treatment and therapy.
The CIPSM cluster brought together TUM, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and Helmholtz Munich.
Funding period: 2006–2017
The CoTeSys Cluster of Excellence developed intelligent machines capable of acting as service robots – whether for household tasks or industrial manufacturing processes. The research explored how cognitive skills such as perception, logical thinking, learning and planning can be integrated into technical systems. The aim was to develop machines and robots that can interact with humans autonomously and “intelligently”, i.e. with the ability to react flexibly to different situations. To this end, CoTeSys developed sophisticated experimental systems for kitchen and factory robots as well as intelligent solutions for human-machine communication.
This interdisciplinary cluster merged brain research with informatics, biophysics, psychology and mechanical engineering. It was an important forerunner of the das Munich Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MIRMI), TUM’s new Integrative Research Center.
In the CoTeSys cluster, TUM headed up around 100 researchers from a wide variety of disciplines drawn from three Munich universities (TUM, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Universität der Bundeswehr), the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen.
Funding period: 2006–2012
New coherent light sources and laser-driven particle sources with unique properties formed the basis of research at the MAP Cluster of Excellence. Ultra-short pulses, high intensities and high energy characterize these new light sources. They open up possibilities for new applications in physics, chemistry, biology and medicine. For example, they will help researchers investigate the structure of biomolecules and observe the tiniest alterations in tissue. The overarching aim of the cluster was to enable early tumor detection and thus the development of new and more targeted therapies.
The main cooperation partners in the MAP cluster alongside TUM and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München were the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Helmholtz Munich.
Funding period: 2006–2017
The former NIM Cluster of Excellence developed into one of the world’s leading nanoscience research centers. The goal of this cluster was to design, fabricate and control multi-functional nanosystems for applications in information technology, energy conversion and medical technologies. The integration of such nanosystems into real environments was a key focus of the research. NIM brought together researchers from the Munich area specializing in physics, biophysics, physical chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy, biology, electrical engineering and medicine.
The Cluster of Excellence was a joint project between TUM, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the University of Augsburg, the Walther Meißner Institute of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry and Quantum Optics, Helmholtz Munich and the Deutsches Museum.
Funding period: 2006–2017
From its home in Munich, the SyNergy cluster established a new research field, namely systems neurology. It seeks to explain the mechanisms behind the development of neurological disorders. The cluster blurred the traditional boundaries between research on neurodegenerative, inflammatory and vascular diseases. Since 2019, SyNergy has been pursuing its goal funded by the first period of the Excellence Strategy.
SyNergy is a joint project of TUM, TUM University Hospital rechts der Isar, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, LMU Hospital, the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry, Neurobiology and Psychiatry, Helmholtz Munich and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).
Funding period: 2012–2017
Successful in the 2019 Excellence Strategy
The Universe Cluster of Excellence has evolved into one of the world’s largest and most active research hubs spanning a unique combination of disciplines in physics, astrophysics and cosmology. The participating scientists investigated questions such as the origin and structure of the universe (matter, energy, space, time) and the nature of fundamental forces. They arrived at some important findings, including a better understanding of how supernova explosions occur and how chemical elements are formed in space. The Cluster of Excellence “ORIGINS: From the origins of the universe to the first building blocks of life” which succeeds “Universe”, was successfully funded until 2019.
The Universe cluster saw close collaboration between physicists from TUM and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München along with their counterparts from the Max Planck Institutes of Physics, Astrophysics, Extraterrestrial Physics and Plasma Physics, the Leibniz Supercomputing Center of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) – the only such combination of disciplines in the world.
Funding period: 2006–2017
The ORIGINS cluster succeeds “Universe” in the 2019 Excellence Strategy