At the beginning of 2007, the UniCat board decided not to wait for the DFG to make its decision concerning the funding of the cluster from November 2007 on. Since it is of upmost importance for the quality of the research in the field of catalysis to continuously attract the best students in the world to Berlin, the board decided to found a "light version" of the graduate school as soon as possible, in order to offer a high quality structured educational program to the students already here.
Thus, on May 29 2007, the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB), the host university of the UniCat consortium, decided to found the BIG-NSE at a founding ceremony with about 300 participants. The president of the TUB, Prof. Dr. Kurt Kutzler, presented a BIG-NSE founding certificate to each of the representatives of the institutions of the UniCat consortium. The Berlin Senator for Education, Sciences and Research, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Zöllner, co-founded the school with Prof. Kutzler and gave a speech on the urgent need to actively encourage young people to become highly qualified researchers in Germany. The ceremony was even attended by representatives from industry and industrial foundations, two of whom also gave a speech. The tentative translation into English of the (German) press text, the program and pictures of the founding ceremony can be found here.
On October 19 2007, UniCat was chosen as one of the few successful proposals within the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments. The cluster received € 6.5 million yearly for five years to implement its program. Part of this money was transferred to the BIG-NSE, allowing it to recruit and fund (for three years) the PhD projects of up to ten new excellent students per year. More about this here.
In June 2012, UniCat was granted a five-year extension in Excellence Initiative funding, and then again for another 14 months, unttil December 2018.
Finally, in October 2018, UniCat succeeded in its transformation into a new cluster, called UniSysCat, which will be financed for a further seven years by the DFG Excellence Initiative, beginning in January 2019.