Future through innovation, © BMBF

Structural change through research and innovation. Three support programmes

Three support programmes developed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are intended to expedite regional structural change through research and innovation. The WIR programme, which in German stands for “change through innovation in the regions”, promotes the creation of broad-ranging alliances for innovation, and includes regions which previously had little contact with research and innovation. The intention is to bring the broadest possible range of players together to support strategic approaches to research, development and innovation. Whilst the initial round was directed solely at developing alliances in the East, the second round of funding will be open to all German regions with structural weaknesses. Up to the present time the projects have ranged from industry automation and additive manufacturing through to innovative rail technology. The Ministry of Education and Research has put aside up to EUR 250 million to allocate to this programme.

“RUBIN”, which stands for “regional corporate alliances for innovation”, is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness and innovative capacity of small and medium-sized companies in particular, as well as strengthening the focus on innovation and practical applications at universities and research institutions. To achieve this, support will be given to regional alliances that are focused on applications – with no restrictions on the subject area. The programme will provide support to seven to fifteen partnerships, with a total of EUR 5 to 12 million to finance a concept phase lasting for up to seven months, followed by a three-year implementation phase.  The third programme, “REGION.innovativ”, is aimed at existing regional alliances, networks or clusters of predominantly small and medium-sized companies. The plan is to encourage these companies to develop and implement new subject areas and tools for the advancement of research, innovation and education. The programmes complement each other and are open to applicants from all regions of Germany that have structural weaknesses. These include, for example, the coastal regions of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, parts of the Ruhr and Saarland, the border regions of eastern Bavaria and the eastern German federal states.

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