The East German regions need top-level research and development in order to build economically successful, internationally competitive clusters in the long-term. Internationally competent research centres are necessary whose basic research is already oriented to future high-technology markets and which create the basis for successful procedural and technological innovations. This is where the programme "Centres for Innovation Competence" (German: Zentren für Innovationskompetenz, ZIK) from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) comes in.
The programme "Centres for Innovation Competence" turns outstanding research approaches at universities and research institutions in the New German Länder into internationally renowned centres. Excellent and internationally competitive research as well as "innovation competence" or the ability to transfer research findings to the economy are decisive for these centres, which should also act as a magnet for young scientists.
The programme has a modular structure. In the first phase (since November 2002), the strategy development of twelve centres chosen by the Länder was supported with a maximum of EUR 250,000. Moreover, the centres were assisted by a consulting company. The following four success parameters were key to the development of the centre concepts: strategic orientation, organisation and networking, financing, framework conditions.
In the second phase (2004-2009), the BMBF supports six centres, which have been positively assessed by an independent jury of experts, in the implementation of their strategic concepts. The focus of the programme is the financing of two internationally staffed groups of young scientists. The investment volume for these measures is EUR 75 million until 2012.
To permanentely secure the success of the six Centres for Innovation Competence of the first round, the BMBF issued a second round of financing for these centres in summer 2009. The centres were given the opportunity to apply for further support of up to two new junior research groups with five scientists each and corresponding equipment. For this second round of financing the BMBF will provide EUR 70 million until 2017.
Hence, the total investment volume for the first round of the programme is EUR 145 million until 2017.
The second round of the "Centres for Innovation Competence" programme was started in July 2006. In a first phase, twelve initiatives were funded for one year with up to EUR 250,000 each in order to develop a strategic concept for the setting up of a high performance research centre. On April 25th 2008 the independent jury chaired by Dr Klaus von Dohnanyi announced the eight chosen initiatives that will be further supported as Centres for Innovation Competence within the framework of Entrepreneurial Regions. The budget filed for so far for the second round of the programme is EUR 99 million until 2016.