The fundning initiative invites participants from business and science to jointly push through the boundaries of institutes and industries. Thus, the “Innovation Forums Mid-Size Sector” (German: Innovationsforen Mittelstand) act as an initial spark for new alliances.
With the ten-point programme "Right of way for the mid-size sector" (German: Vorfahrt für den Mittelstand), the Federal Research Ministry supports small and mid-size companies (SMEs) to develop new ideas and use current research results for themselves. The “Innovation Forums Mid-Size Sector” form a central component of the SME programme. The support initiative provides mid-size companies with better conditions for developing their own innovation activities and new business models.
Small and mid-size companies often lack the capacities to carry out their own research and the access to current research results. Vital collaboration between business, science and other partners is therefore essential for creating innovations. With the “Innovation Forums Mid-Size Sector” funding initiative, the Federal Research Ministry supports the formation of networks that go beyond the pure project work and lead to long-term, strategic alliances.
With its open-themed funding measures, the Federal Research Ministry encourages the set-up and development of interdisciplinary networks in a wide variety of innovation areas. This includes high technology and culture and creative businesses, as well as social services. “Innovation Forums Mid-Size Sector” enable participating companies, together with educational and research institutes and other partners, to develop innovation partnerships at a regional and international level. The following participants are entitled to apply and are eligible for support:
SMEs, for the purpose of this directive, are small and mid-size companies that, according to the EU’s definition, employ fewer than 250 members of staff and have an annual turnover of a maximum of EUR 50 million or an annual balance sheet total of EUR 43 million at the most, and mid-size companies with up to 500 employees based in Germany.
The alliance partners position themselves in the national competition for up to a period of nine months, working on their strategy, organising knowledge and searching for potential collaborators. A central element is a two-day innovation forum, which resembles a specialist convention and brings together all relevant service providers. The event acts as an initial starting point for emerging networks and for those who want to significantly expand their partner structure or enter into long-term close collaborations with other networks.
The selection procedure is multi-stage and competitive. The Federal Research Ministry supports projects,
The project outlines submitted are evaluated by the Ministry according to, among other things, how novel the conceptual approach is, the recommended partner structure, the openness of the networks and according to the contribution they make to regional profile building. In the two selection rounds so far, a total of 136 outlines were submitted; 42 initiatives were invited to make a presentation. Of those, 32 won them over and were recommended to apply.
It is possible to apply at any time. The effective date for the next selection round is the 30 September 2017. Further selection rounds will take place throughout the year. Deadlines for further selection rounds will be announced here at least two months in advance.