Survival Guide to POLiS Members

Version: 09. April 2019

This document serves as a guide to all members of the Cluster of Excellence and provides information about the Cluster’s organs, processes and rules that apply to the work conducted within the Cluster. Information contained herein should not be understood as complete or legally binding. If in doubt about certain points, please get in touch with the Cluster Office.

The Cluster


The Cluster of Excellence “Post-Li Storage” aims to lay the foundation for new and sustainable electrochemical energy storage concepts which overcome the limitations of current battery technology. POLiS will

• Identify and synthesize novel post-Li electrode materials and electrolytes

• Build a better fundamental understanding of novel electrode materials for post-Li batteries and processes therein, with the aim to optimize electrode material performance

• Obtain a thorough understanding of ion transport and degradation phenomena related to electrolytes with the aim to optimize their performance

• Understand and tailor processes at interfaces within and at the surface of electrodes

• Develop processing and engineering concepts for post-Li battery components

• Make post-Li materials, processes, and battery cells safe and sustainable

Partners of the Cluster

POLiS is a collaborative Cluster of Ulm University and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Associated partners are the University of Gießen and the Center for Solar and Hydrogen Research – ZSW in Ulm.

Organs of the Cluster

The Organs of POLiS are the General Assembly, the Executive Board, the Director and their deputies, the International Advisory Council, and the Assembly of Doctoral Students, Postdoctoral Researchers, and other staff. Their rights and responsibilities are defined in the Cluster statutes.

Structure of the Research Program

The research program is structured in four Research Units (Electrode Materials, Electrolytes, Interfaces, Integration & Sustainable Cell Engineering) and 25 projects in total, each of which is headed by a lead-PI. Projects have an interdisciplinary character and involve several PIs at typically two or more partner institutions.

The main research program is accompanied by research activities funded through the Board’s Reserve which provides flexible means to address new topics.

Recruiting of Personnel

All personnel financed by the Cluster must have a corresponding work contract that explicitly mentions the Cluster and its DFG ID (EXC_2154). In case of part-time work for the Cluster – the contract must specify the fraction of labor time (in %) that is spent on Cluster projects. DFG rules require a minimum of 50% labor time.
Any requests for personnel need to be first approved by the Cluster Office and must explicitly state that a position within the Cluster of Excellence POLiS is to be filled. The following information is necessary for approval:

• Name of PI

• number and name of the corresponding Cluster project

• type of position (e.g., PhD student, postdoc)

• salary bracket

• expected start and end date of contract

Approved personnel requests will be fed into the normal hiring process at the respective partner institution. However, a few specifics need to be considered:

PhD students

PhD students shall in general be recruited via the hiring and selection process established by the Graduate School Electrochemical Energy Storage (GS-EES). In particular:

• PhD positions are centrally advertised by the GS-EES

• The recruiting process is organized by GS-EES

• POLiS guarantees a funding period of 3 years for each PhD student

• For PhD students who are funded via POLiS, the participation at GS-EES is mandatory

Additionally, the GS-EES will establish fast procedures for the recruitment of master students. More information is available at

Transferring personnel to POLiS funding

Existing personnel who are moved from another source of funding to POLiS funding must have their work contract amended or changed. Such contract amendments or changes should be initiated by sending the change request to the Cluster Office for approval (see above). In the second step, the respective human resources department should be contacted. Please note that retroactive changes of work contracts are legally only possible to a very limited extent. Please plan accordingly in advance.


DFG rules

For all activities and projects funded by POLiS, the funding rules of DFG apply. Please familiarize yourself with these regulations. The document is available for download here:

The following points are of particular importance:

• DFG funding can only be used to cover direct project cost, e.g., cost of personnel, laboratory supplies and consumables, travel, etc.

• Any expenditures must be documented and booked in a proper and timely fashion

• For each financial year (1.1.-31.12.), the DFG only accepts costs incurred in the same year. Corresponding invoices must have been paid by the respective institution within that same financial year; depending on the workload in the accounting department, delays of several weeks may occur which – towards the end of the year – might shift expenditures over to the following year. Please plan accordingly.

• DFG funding does not cover any indirect costs, such as computers/laptops, IT services, rents, furniture, utilities, etc.

Project budgets

POLiS funds its portfolio of currently 25 projects in four research units with close to 11 Mio. € over an initial period of 3 years. For each project, personnel have been allocated to individual PIs. For each PI, their funding is determined based on the personnel that is associated with the PI’s projects. In addition to that, projects receive a 10% supplement for supplies and consumables.

Funding instruments (research)

Besides the project portfolio, POLiS has additional funding instruments to strengthen its research program:

• Boards Reserve: Flexible funding for high-risk pilot projects that allow the Cluster to address new topics quickly. Applications should be sent to the Cluster Office and will be evaluated by the Board.

• Funding for Junior Research Group Leaders (JRGLs): POLiS will provide JRGLs with 2 years of startup funding that should be used to start a research group in a field that is relevant for POLiS research. Applications should be sent to the Cluster Office and will be evaluated by the Board.

• W1 tenure track professors: POLiS will fund in total four new professorships at Ulm University and KIT that will strengthen the research portfolio of the Cluster.


POLiS has allocated over 4 Mio. € for investments. Requests for investments can be sent to the Cluster Office at the start of new projects and should include a short motivation that explains in which way the investment would be beneficial to the Cluster. The Executive Board decides about investments based on strategic and budgetary considerations. For investments > 150,000 €, the DFG must be involved directly. Please see: funding rules of DFG (“Verwendungsrichtlinien”) and form „exstra 210“ “Beschaffung von Geräten”:

Funding (non-research)

POLiS funds a variety of support measures for early career researchers and has set itself ambitious goals in diversity and equal opportunities. See below for more details.

Research Data Management

The efficient exchange of data between different groups and between the various partner organizations is of utmost importance for successful collaboration. In order to enable the Cluster to share data amongst its members, dedicated infrastructure, protocols, data formats, and tools will be developed. The POLiS Data Curator offers advice and training in the efficient use of such tools.

Dissemination and Communication

Scientific publications

The Cluster encourages collaborative publications that involve several research groups at possibly different partner organizations. All publications that are at least in parts based on work within the Cluster should include the following acknowledgement:

This work contributes to the research performed at CELEST (Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm-Karlsruhe) and was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Project ID 390874152 (POLiS Cluster of Excellence).

Conferences and fairs

All presentations, posters and other dissemination materials must contain the POLiS logo and an acknowledgment of DFG funding. Presentations or posters that focus solely on work done in POLiS should use the POLiS templates which are available at the POLiS sharepoint.


POLiS uses several media channels to communicate with different stakeholders nationally and internationally. Please support our communication activities by proactively approaching our Outreach Officer with newsworthy publications, events etc. We will broadcast your news via Twitter, LinkedIn, and the POLiS website.

Communication within the Cluster

The Cluster is in the process of establishing communication tools that will enable efficient collaboration between the different participating organizations in Ulm, Karlsruhe, and Gießen. Please get in touch with the Cluster office for details.

Early Career Researchers

To be completed later…

ECR Support in the Cluster
To be completed later…

Knowledge Transfer

As it is our goal to push battery technologies that are deemed sufficiently mature towards real-world applications, the Cluster will pursue a portfolio of knowledge transfer activities. These aim at establishing close ties with relevant industries and will push the commercial exploitation of new developments that result from the scientific program of the Cluster. The knowledge transfer activities of the Cluster, e.g., industry events, career days, etc., will be overseen by the Industry Liaison Officer and the Technology Transfer Officer (see below). More information will soon be available on the Cluster’s website.

Quality Assurance and Project Review

As the Cluster is dealing with a rapidly developing topic with partially high-risk activities, it will be necessary to evaluate the progress and the prospects of the 25 projects in an evaluation after 2.5-3 years. We will build a commission, which includes members of the Cluster, in order to work out evaluation criteria for a traffic-light system (green, yellow, red). Based on the outcome of the evaluation, projects may for example continue or be stopped after three years. Thus, we avoid running into dead ends and we can provide resources for better and/or new ideas.

Equal Opportunities

The Cluster is committed to implement effective measures ensuring equal career opportunities for everyone irrespective of gender, age and personal background. It is the distinct goal to increase the number of women in leadership positions within the Cluster, implement measures to offer plannable career opportunities after the PhD level, and mentor female PhD students to pursue an academic career.

The PIs of the Cluster are encouraged to support and actively engage in the plethora of measures implemented by the Cluster: promotion of equality and gender balance such as fostering awareness of diversity aspects, promoting awareness of so-called ‘hidden problems’ such as unconscious bias, invite female speakers and visiting female scientist, participate proactively in recruiting at all career levels, participate in mentoring, training (MUT-program) and coaching activities, and hosting female postdoctoral researchers (e.g., financed by the annual fellowship award). In addition, support of reconciliation work and family life by offering flexible work times and home-office options for researchers with young children.

For its activities in Equal Opportunities, the Cluster has reserved a budget of approx. 100,000 € annually. The Cluster’s equal opportunity officer (EOO) will provide an annual equal opportunities assessment report summarizing activities and progress.

Office Spaces and Laboratories

In order to reach the Cluster’s goals, it is important that exchange and interactions between all participants is facilitated. Creating “critical mass” at dedicated locations where a large number of Cluster participants works together is one way to stimulate such exchange. Currently, efforts are ongoing to provide the participants of the Cluster with additionally laboratory and office spaces that are essential to pursue the goals of our initiative. In Ulm, new laboratories and offices are planned in the Lise-Meitner-Straße 16 building. First offices will be available in early May and the laboratories will be fully equipped in January 2020. At KIT, we are aiming at laboratory and office space in the MZE building. Regular updates will keep you informed about the progress regarding office space and laboratories.

Who to ask?

Cluster Office

Cluster Manager: Christian Punckt +49 721 608-28493

Technology Transfer: to be hired…


Scientific Speaker:  Maximilian Fichtner                                  +49 731 50-34201

Deputy Speaker:     Helmut Ehrenberg                                       +49 721 608-26363

Deputy Speaker:     Axel Groß                                                            +49 731 50-22810

Industry Liaison:    Jürgen Fleischer                                             +49 721 608-44009

Equal Opportunities: Christine Kranz                                       +49 731 50-22749


Director:                 Jürgen Behm                                                +49 731 50-25450