The major amount of expensive and scarce Pt catalysts in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEMFCs) is necessary to catalyze the sluggish oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), preventing the mass commercialization of PEMFCs. Heat treated transition metal, nitrogen and carbon containing materials have emerged as promising alternatives. Due to the complexity of the catalysts, the underlying phenomena of the catalytic activity are not well understood. My project not only tries to find new routes to more efficient and cheap elecrocatalysts for the ORR but also to gain fundamental insight into the nature of the active site. This can be achieved by simpler synthesis routes and a range of electrochemical and physical characterization methods.