WIR! – The programme

The programme "WIR! – Transformation through innovation in the region" provides the impetus for new regional confederations, and lays the foundations for sustainable structural transformation rooted in innovation.


The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) aims to address the particular challenges of structural transformation by generating new impulses with its programme "WIR! – Transformation through innovation in the region". WIR! is aimed at large-scale regional confederations comprising the most diverse range of stakeholders, who work together to identify areas of innovation. By adopting new strategic approaches, any existing innovation potential in their region should also be exploited in future. Creativity, courage and vision should strengthen the region's profile and open up new perspective for structural transformation.

People in focus

The funding approach deliberately avoids being topic-specific, and places people at its centre. On the one hand, these people are particularly affected by structural transformation. It is, however, also within their shared competency and responsibility to define the relevant field of innovation for themselves, on the other. In the spirit of a broad understanding of innovation, this can occur in a diverse range of disciplines, be it within technological development, product innovation, new business models or social innovation. Stakeholders at local level are thus able to trigger their very own innovation momentum, while establishing the basis for structural changes in their region.

Unexploited potential, sustainable structures

WIR! predominantly addresses regions that have yet to develop a visible profile in their fields of innovation at national level, and which possess sources of innovation potential as yet unexploited. Exhausting this potential should be the aim of the WIR! confederations.

The funded initiatives establish new forms of cooperation between businesses, universities, research institutes and other key players; they transcend industrial, institutional and administrative thresholds together, while simultaneously integrating civic organisations and those stakeholders lacking innovation experience. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research pursues the long-term aim of establishing partnerships, which form sustainable, self-supporting structures.

Funding in two phases

The programme design covers several steps: The Ministry will select 20 of the most promising applications from those confederations, which submit a draft by 31 October 2017. They will develop regional innovation concepts tailored to their specific innovation areas as part of a conceptual design phase. After supporting this intensive phase of strategic work, the jury appointed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will select up to twelve initiatives, which will then commence an implementation phase due to last approximately five years.

Confederations may apply for a maximum of three initiatives with a total funding amount of up to € 200,000 for the conceptual design phase. During the first two years of the implementation phase, the selected confederations will each be given access to a maximum of between € 5 million and € 8 million.

The programme "WIR! – Transformation through innovation in the region" marks the start of the new funding concept “Innovation and structural transformation”, which will span the whole of Germany from 2020 onwards.