Research at Freie Universität Berlin is characterized by disciplinary and transdisciplinary excellence and the diversity of its academic networks – both internationally and in the Berlin-Brandenburg science hub. The strategic approach to research at Freie Universität Berlin, which is reinforced by the Excellence Initiative, focuses on the flexibility of new as well as established structures.
Since 2006, one of the special features of research at Freie Universität Berlin is the university’s targeted formation of research alliances called Focus Areas. The Focus Areas form academic and scientific networks and working platforms for interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaborative research at Freie Universität. They are platforms for discussing innovative research topics, and for the design and development of new projects from proposal to maturity. This includes DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centers, the DFG excellence grants, and European projects.
Within Clusters of Excellence that emerged from the German government's Excellence Initiative, particularly strong fields of research at Freie Universität – for example in ancient studies – were further expanded. Freie Universität was also able to contribute its special expertise to joint clusters such as NeuroCure (based at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the medical school operaterd jointly by Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität) or cooperation projects such as UniCat (Technische Universität Berlin).