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Exploration Grants.

With its Exploration Grants, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation aims to provide outstanding scientists doing basic research in biology, chemistry, and medicine with the opportunity to explore new lines of research at an early stage of their careers.

They thus enable junior research group leaders to pursue new ideas or surprising findings that have the potential to broaden or reorient their research profile.

The context and aims of our Exploration Grants.

Science is often decisively advanced by unexpected observations and unconventional ideas. Our Exploration Grants provide you with the financial latitude to ask unusual questions and explore new territory. They allow you to undertake the ground work necessary for initiating new research directions and to successfully apply for research funding e.g. from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) or the European Research Council (ERC).

What can be funded?

You may apply for a one-off grant of up to 180,000 euros, disbursed over a period of 2 years, for projects that offer the potential to initiate a new research direction in your laboratory. The grant may be used to cover personnel and consumables, but may not be used for the remuneration of the group leader’s position. Applications solely for the purpose of procuring equipment and consumables will not be funded. Likewise, projects continuing existing work will not be considered. Should funding be granted, you will be required to start the project within 6 months of the date of the approval letter.

When can you apply?

The application deadlines are 15 March and 15 September of each year. Postmark dates apply. Please send your documents to the following address:

Boehringer Ingelheim Stiftung
Schusterstraße 46–48
55116 Mainz


Who may apply?

If you wish to apply, you must fulfil the following criteria:

  • You must have been awarded your PhD less than 10 years prior to the application deadline, and you should have substantial international experience.
  • Your research focuses on fundamental questions in the biological, medical, and chemical sciences. A clear link to the life sciences is required. The foundation encourages applications which have the potential to provide novel important insights into fundamental processes. The foundation does not, however, fund zoological research or systematic botany, for example.
  • You have been leading an independent research group at an academic institution in Germany for at least 2 years.
  • You have an outstanding publishing record and can demonstrate your scientific independence by being the last and/or corresponding author of at least one published original scientific article originating from your independent research group.
  • Your proposed project offers the potential to initiate a new research direction in your laboratory.
  • You must not have submitted an application for funding of this project to any other organization.

The Exploration Grant funded a risky project that really excited us – without the requirement of a lot of preliminary data.

The results obtained were very helpful and important in getting an ERC Starting Grant. It’s a great funding scheme with high flexibility and little administration.


Ilona Grunwald-Kadow is professor at the School of Life Sciences at the Technical University Munich (TUM).

Photo: Copyright ©TUM

What cannot be funded by Exploration Grants?

  • Projects that merely represent a logical continuation or extension of your research programme.
  • Exploration Grants are not aimed at scientists whose research groups are embedded in a department or a senior research group, and are not independent of such. Instead, applicants have to demonstrate scientific independence comparable to the status of group leaders in the Emmy Noether programme of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Do you have any questions?

If there are any remaining questions after referring to the Guidelines for applicants and the FAQs Exploration Grants, please call us or email us