Konrad Zuse Schools of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence

An initiative for German higher education institutions, research institutions and companies.


– The funding programme ‘Konrad Zuse Schools of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence’ provides excellent, research-based training for outstanding German and non-German students at master’s degree and doctorate level in order to strengthen the standing of German AI research and application in the context of international competition.

Context of the programme

Nowadays we encounter Artificial Intelligence in almost all areas of life: whether in daily routine, industry or academia – the fields of application of AI as a key technology will develop rapidly and provide decisive stimuli for progress and structural change in society.
In order to strengthen the standing of German AI research and application in the context of international competition, the Federal Government’s  focuses on international cooperation with the aim of training the personnel required for AI development and application in Germany.
German higher education and research institutions not only offer excellent study and research opportunities in the field of AI, they also engage in numerous research and development collaborations with industry and business. The growing number of industry-specific AI application areas also offers attractive employment and career opportunities for top national and international AI specialists.

This is where the funding programme ‘Konrad Zuse Schools of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence’ comes in: the programme will promote the establishment of probably three ‘Konrad Zuse Schools of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence’ providing excellent, research-based training at master’s degree and at doctorate level. German higher education institutions (universities and universities of applied sciences) will be responsible for the Schools. Each School will form the umbrella for an association of academically proven researchers who are interested in innovative teaching and are drawn from several higher education institutions and non-university research institutions, as well as representatives of commercial research and development departments (fellows).

Programme objectives

The Schools’ unique features will be their combination of excellent, research-based education at master’s degree and doctorate level, supervision provided by mentors from both academia and industry as well as cross-locational networking. To this end, the very best German and international AI talent is to be attracted and retained in Germany as an AI hub.
The transdisciplinary, cross-locational teams provide innovative paths to academic qualification, interdisciplinary research relating to AI as well as transdisciplinary career paths in industry and academia for young AI researchers.

The programme is to make a long-term contribution

  • to the professional profiling of the participating higher education institutions in research-based teaching within the AI sector;
  • to meeting the demand for researchers and for expertise in the AI sector in Germany;
  • to the transdisciplinary and cross-locational networking of academia and industry and the intensification of knowledge transfer in the AI sector;
  • to enhancing the excellence and perspectives of higher education and research through international exchange and the international appeal of Germany as an AI science hub;
  • to enhancing the standing of AI content in research, teaching, industry and society.

Call for applications

The application and selection of projects will take place in two stages. The first stage involves the submission of a project outline which includes qualification and research concepts for a School on AI subjects as well as a supervision concept. Eligible applicants are officially recognised German higher education state institutions. The application deadline is 22 October 2021. Between five and seven concepts will be selected based on the project outlines submitted. At stage two, the selected applicants will then be invited to submit an application for funding for a concretely developed AI School project before the deadline of 15 March 2022.

 ‘Konrad Zuse Schools of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence’

Funded by
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research logo