Independent research institutes which do not receive basic financing are funded project-specific with the aim of giving them an opportunity to secure their inter- and transdisciplinary (methodological) knowledge. Infrastructure funding also supports the creation of international networks.
Since the early 1980s, a number of relatively small, non-profit research institutes has been established that are not funded within the framework of federal-state government agreements and that have extensive competency in the field of interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research. One of the goals of this funding programme is to archive and systematize the findings of such institutes and disseminate them to established scientific knowledge bases and networks.
The initial funding phase (2000-2006) focused on codifying and systematizing interdisciplinary methodologies for sustainability research. An evaluation by an independent panel of experts at the end of phase one found that the requisite level of cooperation, information sharing and networking between non-profit research institutes and other research institutions (in both the academic and non-academic environment) has yet to be achieved. Hence, phase two of the network funding programme (2006-2010) will focus on measures that promote the implementation of these goals in Germany and abroad.