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Plus 3 perspectives programme.

With its Plus 3 funding programme, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation aims to support outstanding junior group leaders in Germany conducting basic research in biology, chemistry, and medicine.

It enables them to optimally use the productive phase of their first temporary position as research group leaders as a springboard to a professorship in an excellent research environment. Approximately 80 % of group leaders whose Plus 3 funding started between 2010 to 2018 have obtained a professorship, and more than 40 % of all group leaders funded through the Plus 3 programme came from abroad.

Context and aims of the Plus 3 programme.

It generally takes 12 to 18 months to fully establish one's first independent research group at a new location. The group's first substantial and independent publications therefore often only appear after its fourth year. Hence, in those cases where a group leader’s employment term and core funding is limited to 5 or 6 years, the time frame in which to do productive scientific work and successfully obtain a professorship is relatively short. This is where Plus 3 offers group leaders added time, freedom, and flexibility to reach their scientific potential, to advance and develop their research programmes. Plus 3 thereby creates the best conditions for long-term prospects in an optimal research environment.

What can be funded?

You can apply for up to 900,000 euros of core funding for your research team for up to 3 years.

This funding includes remuneration for your position as group leader, as well as for further team scientists and technical assistants. It may also be used to finance consumables, travel, and equipment.

When can you apply?

The application deadlines are 15 March and 15 September of each year. Postmark dates apply. Please send your application 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 12 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 your first independent research group at an academic institution in Germany for at least 2, but no longer than 5 years.
  • You were selected for the group leader position through a competitive process (e.g. Emmy Noether programme) with external scientists participating in the decision process.
  • Funding of your group is limited to a period of 6 years without the possibility of an extension, and does not include any tenure-track options or similar.
  • You have an outstanding publishing record as a PhD student and post-doctoral researcher. Your scientific independence is demonstrated by at least two published original scientific articles of which you are the last author.
  • You should be able to provide evidence that your research group has already been positively evaluated.
  • Your research institution bindingly pledges to offer you a permanent position, and must contribute substantially to equipping your group. In exceptional cases and based on a statement of reasons, the permanent position requirement may be waived.


Plus 3 is among the best, most sensibly designed funding programmes in the German research landscape! With it, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation supports independent, up-and-coming scientists unbureaucratically, at a crucial stage on their route toward professorship. If I hadn’t been accepted into the Plus 3 programme, my career path would certainly have looked quite different.

Christian Hackenberger, the first Plus 3 recipient, is now a W3 professor at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) and at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. For his outstanding achievements, he was awarded, among other things, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
Photo: Silke Oßwald

What cannot be funded by Plus 3?

  • Plus 3 is not a supplement to insufficient research grants or core funding, but rather is intended as a structural programme and bridge during the key phase on the way to obtaining a professorship in an optimal research environment.
  • The Plus 3 programme is 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 you still have questions after referring to the Guidelines for applicants and the FAQs Plus 3, please call us or email us