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International research activities by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises


Team Member IraSME
AiF Projekt GmbH
(ZIM project management agency for BMWK)

Tschaikowskistraße 49
13156 Berlin, Germany

Contact Person

Ms. Jenny Gudlat

Phone: +49 (0)30 48163 589

Email: info (at)


Central Innovation Programme for SMEs


Aim of programme

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) offers German applicants the opportunity to apply for R&D funding through its Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM). ZIM funding aims at:

  • Encouraging the implementation of R&D results into marketable innovations
  • Increasing the innovative ability and competitive position of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Increasing cooperation between SMEs and research / technology organisations (RTOs)
  • Reducing technical and economic risks related to research and development

Funding Conditions

  • Funding for German companies and RTOs; at least one German company/SME has to participate
  • Companies with less than 500 employees (including affiliated companies) may apply
  • Companies with less than 1,000 employees (including affiliated companies) may apply if cooperating with a SME (less than 250 employees)
  • Companies receive a subsidy rate of 25% – 60% (depending on their size and place of business)
  • Companies may receive an additional 10% for transnational cooperation, but max. 60% funding
  • Companies may calculate a max. budget of €450,000; funding depends on subsidy rates
  • RTOs may calculate a max. budget of €220,000; receive 100% funding of the calculated costs for the project part they applied for; max. funding for each RTO is €220,000
  • Contribution of RTOs: max. 50% of total person months
  • In projects with more than two partners no partner may contribute more than 50%, in bilateral projects no SME more than 70 % of total person months
  • Each German partner (company / RTO) has to file a separate ZIM application
  • Eligible costs:
    – Personnel costs (without employer’s share of social insurance)
    – Other costs (up to 100% of personnel costs for companies, and 85% for RTOs)
    – Costs for project-related contracts to third parties (up to 25% of personnel costs)
    – Costs for external R&D contracts (30% to 70% of person months)



  • Development of innovative products, processes or technical services
  • Significant technical risk involved in the project and clearly described
  • Enhancing of competitiveness of SMEs



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