The Individual Programmes

Successful innovation policies must create optimal framework conditions for innovation. They must look at the innovation process from a holistic perspective and make suitable support instruments available at every stage. With the innovation initiative "Entrepreneurial Regions" (German: Unternehmen Region) the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has developed specific support measures for East Germany that adequately respond to the special conditions there. The individual programmes of "Entrepreneurial Regions" build upon one another and take hold at different strategic points of the innovation process:

The "Innovative Regional Growth Cores" programme (German: Innovative regionale Wachstumskerne) focuses on initiatives with market potential which can be realised in the mid- to long-term. Ideas and activities from the regional innovation alliances should be oriented towards economic implementation on the market right from the start. The initiatives are provided with professional consulting services in the development of their innovation concept, which is based on a business plan. Each year, new initiatives are included in the three-year development support phase. Since its start in 2001 the "Innovative Regional Growth Cores" programme has continuously been developed further. In June 2007 the programme GC Potential (German: WK Potenzial) was added. Applications for both programmes are received continuously.

Start programme Innovative Regional Growth Cores: 2001
Number of initiatives supported to date: 51
Budget for the initiatives supported so far: EUR 350.6 million until 2018

Start programme GC Potential: 2007
Number of initiatives supported to date: 40
Budget for the initiatives supported so far: EUR 58.5 million until 2016
Continual selection process

The goal of the programme "Centres for Innovation Competence" (German: Zentren für Innovationskompetenz, ZIK) is to establish interdisciplinary centres of excellence at universities and research institutes in East Germany. These centres will engage in internationally competitive top-level research together with young researchers from Germany and abroad and should be able to make commercial use of their results in the mid- to long-term future. The focus of the programme hence is the financing of two internationally staffed groups of young scientists.

Start: 2002
Number of initiatives supported (1st round): 6 plus one ZIK Cooperation
Budget (1st round, filed for so far): EUR 148.8 million until 2018
Number of initiatives supported (2nd round): 8 plus three ZIK Cooperation
Budget (2nd round, filed for so far): EUR 122.8 million until 2018

The "Innovation Forums" programme (German: Innovationsforen) is directed towards regional alliances in the early stages of development and existing initiatives aiming to reach a new level of quality in their field of innovation. The development support over a period of six months and at a maximum of EUR 85,000 serves to trigger an “ignition spark”. The focus of the support is an “innovation forum”, a two-day event which provides a basis to promote knowledge transfer, to establish contacts and to position the alliance in the competitive landscape.

Start: 2001
Number of initiatives supported up to date: 179
Budget: EUR 14.4 million
Continual selection process

With the "InnoProfile" programme, the BMBF focuses on the cooperation between young scientists of a region and regional business. The ministry thus supports cooperation on a common technology between groups of scientists from public research institutes and local companies. These alliances have the potential to shape the economic competence profile of their region. Since June 2005 a total of 42 initiatives have been selected for support. With "InnoProfile-Transfer" a stronger focus of existing InnoProfile research groups on technology transfer is to occur and at the same time, SMEs are being motivated to more closely cooperate with the sciences.

Start programme InnoProfile: 2005
Number of initiatives supported: 42
Budget: EUR 157 million until 2013

Start programme InnoProfile-Transfer: end of 2010
Number of initiatives supported up to date: 51
Budget for these initiatives: EUR 122.7 Million until 2019

With its new programme "ForMaT", the BMBF aims at making results of public research better and faster usable for the economy. For one, the intention is to motivate scientists to analyse the economic usability of their studies in an early phase of their research. For another, the programme supports interdisciplinary cooperation: science and technology departments form a team with economics or business faculties. This team then develops exploitation concepts and puts them jointly into practice.

Start: 2007
Phase I: 86 concept teams
Phase II: 33 innovation labs
Budget: EUR 59 million until 2013 

On August 22, 2012 the new the programme “Zwanzig20 – Partnerschaft für Innovation” (Twenty20 – Partnership for Innovation) was announced. The program is intended to systematically expand and develop for the future through national, interdisciplinary cooperations the outstanding economic and scientific competencies in the new federal states. In this respect it is necessary to overcome accepted mind-sets. And at the same time also the limits placed on technologies, scientific disciplines, industries, markets and organisational cultures. Through new forms of networking, through open, transparent and reflective processes in network management with project implementation it is intended to create novel innovation structures. In this regard the focus is on the joint identification of future topics and future essential areas, as well as the corresponding elaboration of concrete, economically viable solutions.

Start: 2012
Project Consortia: 10
Twenty20-Forums: 9
Budget: up to EUR 500 million through to 2019

The programme "InnoRegio" started in 1999 as an open-themed contest ("bottom-up" approach) and serves as the basis for the other programmes. The aim was to establish self-supporting innovation networks which pool the innovation potentials of their region to a competitive performance profile through new forms of cooperation. A total of 23 regional initiatives with a wide variety of industry specialisations and topical points of emphasis were selected for support from among 444 applicants and supported until the end of 2006.

Start: 1999 / End: 2006 
Number of initiatives supported: 23
Total budget 1999-2006: EUR 230.6 million


Contact Persons

  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research

    • Referat 114 "Regionale Innovationsinitiativen; Neue Länder"
    • Hannoversche Str. 28-30
    • D-10115 Berlin
    • Telephone: +49 30 18 57 - 5273
    • Fax: +49 30 18 57 - 85273
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