ENET – the excellence track for high potentials

The best of university, non-university and business experience

The Erlangen-Nuremberg Excellence Track (ENETLZE) is one of the fundamental aspects of our excellence strategy that aims to establish FAU as the university for the next generation of young researchers. With the help of our partners, we have put in place a best practice programme that offers alternative, flexible career paths for excellent young researchers and the opportunity to follow a career spanning various organisations.

Prof. Joachim Hornegger, FAU President

The ENET programme has been developed within the High Performance Centre for Electronic Systems (LZE) in a partnership between FAU and the Fraunhofer Institutes for Integrated Circuits (IIS) and Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB). It is a pioneer of modern excellence programmes, combining education and networking with interdisciplinary project work spanning several organisations. The programme is unique in its approach of combining these three areas and involving three highly innovative organisations. Various industrial partners take it in turns to be included in the programme. The partner in the first round was Siemens AG.

The programme takes a three-pronged approach, focusing on product innovation, networking and careers. Industrial partners are given the opportunity to design and generate innovative products with a short time to market, whilst simultaneously extending their own network and helping high-potential employees within their organisation develop their full potential thanks to targeted career development measures.

ENET offers you, the high potentials from the associated industrial partners, the possibility to work on cutting-edge topics together with a cross-organisational and interdisciplinary team including researchers from FAU and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. The topics covered depend on the specific challenges faced by your employer. ENET benefits from a climate of open innovation between the trusted partners FAU, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and industry.

The programme is aimed at excellent young researchers:
  • Graduates who have completed a doctoral degree and are just commencing their postdoctoral phase
  • People who have not completed a doctoral degree who have at least five years’ work experience, preferably in a position with responsibility for projects or sub-projects

You should be a creative, communicative and innovative team player. Depending on the focus of the project, youmay be considered on the basis of your previous work experience in the research area, project experience, achievements in your career to date and personal skills. Your application documents and presentation to the selection committee are also taken into consideration.

ENET is aimed at working professionals. In other words, you remain at your place of work and pursue the programme in addition to your regular working hours. You should try, as far as possible, to be released from your ongoing project work for activities relating to ENET which take place during your normal working hours.

Over a period of two years you will receive support as an excellent young researcher, working alongside your normal employment on a joint top research project in an interdisciplinary and cross-organisational team, taking the initial idea through to market maturity.

By working closely together with members from other organisations, you receive valuable and unusual insights into the perspectives and procedures of the other organisations, allowing you to improve your soft skills and gain a wealth of experience outside your own area of expertise.

Individual personal development measures and networking activities allow you to develop from both a personal and career perspective and help you prepare for the next step in your career. At the same time, you can build up and nurture a long-lasting professional network. You can plan your career to suit you and take the time to reflect together with our coaches and your mentor on the best way to move forward. Taking part in ENET is a great boost to your visibility both within your own organisation and beyond. It is the perfect opportunity for you to underline your value and importance and you are more likely to be considered for positions corresponding to your special/unique profile.


However, there is no innovation without people. For new ideas, organisations need to attract people with the right skills. ENET-LZE enables top-performing young researchers to broaden their horizons across the various specialist disciplines and organisations. This will make sure that the right people are in the right posts.

Prof. Albert Heuberger, Executive Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS

Project work

The two-year project starts with a workshop to find innovative research topics, allowing the project to be tailored to meet the challenges of particular relevance for the company in question. Within the given framework, you come up with a proposal for a project. If it meets the requirements of the industrial partner, you draw up a business case together with the other ENET participants. If it meets with approval, the industrial partner funds the project and you work together with the team to develop, for example, a prototype.


Participants in the ENET programme establish a long-lasting innovation network. Meetings (networking events, symposiums, informal discussions) on specific topics with top experts give partners a platform for sharing their innovative ideas within the network with participants from the other organisations. Being part of the ENET team and taking part in meetings such as these gives you the opportunity to bring yourself to the attention of the management and create long-lasting connections.

Individual personal development

ENET offers diverse measures which are primarily designed to develop the participants’ networking abilities and soft skills, depending on their career aspirations. You attend seminars and workshops on the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation management, leadership and research, and communication and media. If you are interested, you are also able to benefit from individual coaching and tailored career advice sessions with experienced trainers which allow you to make the most of your own individual expertise and work on improving your management and leadership skills. Each participant is assigned a suitable mentor who is available to provide advice and support during the programme and thereafter.

Details of the application procedure for the next round will be published on this site approximately three months in advance. The next round is expected to start at the beginning of 2019.

For the industrial company, ENET offers an outstanding opportunity to define a specific challenge faced by the company concerning innovative topics, which is then tackled by an interdisciplinary and cross-organisational team of experts.

Basic research, applied research and industrial research and development are all represented within the network. Know-how and expertise is bundled and research findings of relevance to the partner are put into practice quickly and easily. Time to market is shortened, giving partners a substantial headstart. Knowledge is pooled

At the same time, the partner organisations become part of an ecosystem which allows them to drive innovation and exploit new potential offered by their staff and their company, going beyond the value of the resources of each individual organisation.

Furthermore, industrial companies broaden their scientific horizons whilst academic partners learn to appreciate issues better from a market or systems perspective.

This has the effect of enhancing the performance, attractiveness and visibility of the institutions involved and the local region.

For the company, ENET-LZE offers the chance to create an edge in an environment characterised by an incredible speed of change. This is achieved through optimal collaboration in the research and development value chain, as well as through the networking of interdisciplinary teams.

Prof. Rolf Hellinger, Head of Competence Center Power Electronics

Activities – ENET in action

Project work

Scientists with Lego

ENET participants during the Lego Serious Play workshop in Josephs. (Image: FAU/Silke Schnurbusch)

The programme is launched with a Lego Serious Play workshop in JOSEPHs aimed at developing project ideas. Before starting work on refining business cases, a workshop is organised in which you are given a detailed explanation of the economic background information you need and are supported by experts whilst working as a team.

Everyone is invited to take part in an intensive practical workshop on the topic ‘Give a presentation like a punk’ with Dominic Stühler (managing director of Punk Academy GmbH) to help you present yourself and the project ideas of your ENET team effectively both during the kick-off event and in regular project meetings with the industrial partners. The workshop takes an unusual slant on presentations, demonstrating the latest approaches and showing you how you can give a presentation which makes you stand out from the crowd.


During an event organised by FAU, ‘Science sets Sail’, ENET participants boarded the Thor Heyerdahl in July 2017. During the voyage they were able to discuss interdisciplinary topics, work together on deck and extend their network with people from other organisations, disciplines and countries. Dr. Nadine Lang who works for Fraunhofer IIS at the High Performance Centre for Electronic Systems (LZE) and is taking part in the ENET-LZE programme, went on board ship for one week and has reported back on her impressions, experiences and insights.

As well as several other networking events, at the end of the programme we organise three ‘fireside chats’ with high-ranking representatives from the three partner organisations. These should give you an opportunity to present yourself, explain ENET and what it has meant to you and extend your network. It is also a way for you to boost your visibility within the organisations.

Individual personal development

Those participating in the ENET programme are given the opportunity to plan their career path better and see more clearly where they are heading. A career workshop is organised, for example, where those responsible for staff at the ENET partner organisations present various options and look at them in detail. This is then followed by individual career coaching sessions, where specific measures are defined for each individual participant.

All participants are also invited to a team coaching, in order to reflect on their joint teamwork and find strategies for challenges faced in the past and in the future.

Being successful also means becoming a convincing communicator and learning to sell yourself and your research projects as effectively as possible. A workshop on ‘The art of small talk’ is offered within the context of ENET to help you polish your skills in this area, led by Michael Gordian The workshop takes you through the skills needed to make new contacts and cultivate relationships at scientific conferences.