CZS Wildcard: Programme to encourage unconventional ideas

With this call for application the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung is enabling interdisciplinary research groups to pursue a shared idea over a period of two years. The scientists who are involved are given maximum freedom.

Detailed information:

Topic: STEM impulses
Programme: CZS Wildcard
Target groups: Junior research group leaders
Funding budget: 750.000 €
Full proposal deadline: 06.05.2024


The application must describe an unconventional and interdisciplinary research project in natural sciences, life sciences and/or engineering sciences (STEM fields) that will be pursued during the funding period. Projects that are at a very early stage of deliberation, without the usual preliminary work, are also expressly welcome. If the project does not achieve the expected goals, its results also lead to knowledge discovery. Therefore, failure for reasons of content is impossible.

What are the application requirement specifications?

The measure being applied for must address an interdisciplinary research project in natural sciences, life sciences and/or engineering sciences (STEM fields). Applications for funding must be submitted by consortia of at least three scientists.

Who is eligible to apply?

The application is submitted by one scientist on behalf of the consortium. The applicant scientist must be employed at one of the following universities in the Carl Zeiss Foundation's funding states:

  • in Baden-Württemberg: Universities: Freiburg, Heidelberg, Hohenheim, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Konstanz, Mannheim, Stuttgart, Tübingen, Ulm
    Universities of applied sciences: Aalen, Albstadt-Sigmaringen, Biberach, Esslingen, Furtwangen, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, HTWG Konstanz, Mannheim, Nürtingen-Geislingen, Offenburg, Pforzheim, Ravensburg-Weingarten, Reutlingen, Rottenburg, HfT Stuttgart, HdM Stuttgart, Ulm
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: Universities: Kaiserslautern-Landau, Koblenz, Mainz, Trier
    Universities of applied sciences: Bingen, Kaiserslautern, Koblenz, Mainz, Trier, Worms
  • Thuringia: Universities: Erfurt, Ilmenau, Jena, Weimar
    Universities of applied sciences: Erfurt, Jena, Nordhausen, Schmalkalden

Up to 1/3 of the scientists participating in the consortium may be (1) employed at a non-university institution or (2) employed at a university or non-university institution outside the CZS funding states or abroad. The applicants may therefore come from the same university or cooperate with scientists from other universities or non-university research institutes in the funding states, in another federal state or abroad.

Funding period

The funding period is two years. The earliest possible project start date is 1 January 2025 and the project must start no later than 1 March 2025. 

Application process

Applications must be submitted via our application page. The link will be published starting 1 April 2024.

Administration Point

Dr. Phil-Alan Gärtig

Program Manager

Phone: +49 (0)711 - 162213 - 10


Dr. Karla Hillerich

Program Manager

Phone: +49 (0) 711 162 213 – 21