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Central Innovation Programme for SMEs

Research and development cooperation projects, for example, are eligible for project cost support of up to EUR 2 million. ZIM has been open to all industry branches and technological sectors as a source of support for innovation efforts since 2008. The aim of ZIM is to sustainably increase the innovative capacity and competitiveness of SMEs including craft businesses and independent professions and in doing so contribute to their growth and the generation of new jobs.

Individual Projects

Funding may be provided for R&D projects undertaken by individual companies including small and medium-sized companies in accordance with the definition of an SME and other SMEs with up to 500 employees including affiliated or partner companies.

Cooperation Projects

Funding may be provided for cooperation R&D projects undertaken by several companies or between companies and research institutes which are small and medium-sized companies in accordance with the definition of an SME; other SMEs with up to 500 employees including affiliated or partner companies; and public and non-profit-making private research institutes.

Funding Criteria

From July 1, 2012, the following changes in the Central innovation Programme have entered into force:

  • The deadline for applications has been extended from the end of 2013 to the end of 2014 in order to avoid a gap immediately after the Bundestag elections and during the 2014 interim budget following this.
  • Funding for networks has been redesigned to cover management and research and development (R&D) projects under "Cooperation Networks."
  • The incentives for international R&D cooperation and export-oriented projects have been raised.
  • The eligibility of companies with up to 500 employees has been extended to the end of 2013.

Project Criteria

The applicant project seeks to develop a new product, process or new technical services which surpass existing products, processes or technical services in terms of their functions, parameters or features.

The product is based on the international state-of-the-art in technology and raises the level of technological performance and the innovative skills of the company.

The project carries a significant, but predictable technical risk.

The competitiveness of the companies will be permanently raised, new markets will be opened, and jobs will be created or safeguarded.

Without funding, the project cannot be realized or can only be realized with a considerable time delay.

The project may not be in receipt of other funding; begin before submission of the funding application has been confirmed; be carried out on behalf of third parties.

Definition of an SME

Small EnterprisesMedium-sized Enterprises
Number of employeesless than 50less than 250
Annual turnoverup to EUR 10mup to EUR 50m
Annual balance sheet totalup to EUR 10mup to EUR 43m

Applications may be submitted continuously through to December 31, 2014.

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