SME innovation forums

Support for the setting up and development of interdisciplinary regional and national networks between companies, educational and research institutions and other suitable partners in a wide variety of fields of innovation (e.g. high technology, the cultural and creative industries, social services) nationwide. More

Funding Rules


SMEs in cutting edge research receive preferential access to funding. Project outlines may be submitted at any time. All project outlines already submitted will be assessed on two cut-off dates during the year. The assessments take place on 15 April and 15 October. Submitted project suggestions compete with one another. More

The programme supports the following areas of technology:
  • Biotechnology
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Nanotechnology
  • Optical Technologies
  • Production Research
  • Resources and Energy Efficiency
  • Research for Civil Security

"Unternehmen Region" (Entrepreneurial Regions) (until 31.12.2020)

In the new federal states, and since 2014 in structurally weak areas of the old federal states, the BMBF supports regional alliances with the Entrepreneurial Regions initiative. It includes the following programmes (Project Management Jülich):

Innovative Regional Growth Centres and Potential GCs
Funding is granted to initiatives from science, industry and the financial sector with a thematic focus. Individual and joint projects in basic research, industrial research and pre-competitive development within an overall concept for the development of the core competency may be supported. Over and above this, specific and general training and educational projects and innovation consultancy for SMEs and business founders can also be supported.
Every year around five more initiatives are included in the three-year funding phase. Applications are received on an ongoing basis. The additional "WK Potenzial" (Potential GCs) module, seeks to establish industrial "Technology or Problem-Solving Platforms" for the first time in their region through a joint research or development project. The funding period is two years. Here too applications are received on an ongoing basis.


"Chancen.Regionen" (Chances.Regions)  (until 2024)

By 2024, the BMBF plans to make around 600 million euros available for several new programmes that will provide visible and sustainable impetus in structurally weak regions. The concept "Chancen.Regionen" builds on the positive experience gained with the initiative "Unternehmen Region" and will replace it in the long term.

"Innovation & Strukturwandel" (Innovation & Structural Change)
At the heart of the programme is the promotion of research and innovation. It is based on the region's existing potential and is deliberately designed to be open to diverse topics and technologies.


Validation of the technological and social innovation potential of scientific research VIP+

The funding recipients are projects from all fields of research that systematically prove the feasibility and practicability as well as the innovation potential of research findings and that are in the validation phase. Examples of validation activities are investigations to prove feasibility, the development of demonstrators or functional models, carrying out of tests or pilot applications to prove suitability and acceptance, application-oriented basic research for the development of research findings towards application or for the adaptation to new areas of application, evaluative analyses to prove the economic or social innovation potential, plus analysis and safeguarding of intellectual property rights. More

Last Modification: 11.10.2021 - Contact Person: Dipl.-Ing. Martina Hagen