Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) - the most important funding programme for SMEs

The Central Innovation Programme for SMEs - ZIM for short - is the most important funding instrument for SMEs in Germany. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, which is responsible for the programme, wants to use this funding instrument to strengthen the innovative power and competitiveness of SMEs.

What speaks in favour of ZIM and how was it able to acquire this importance for German SMEs?

The programme is accessible nationwide and is open to all technologies and sectors! This means that eligible companies from all over Germany can receive funding for their research and development projects. These projects can be carried out by individual companies or in cooperation with companies and/or research institutions.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and, since a few years, other medium-sized enterprises (<500 employees) are eligible to apply. In addition, other SMEs (< 1000 employees) can also receive funding if they cooperate with at least one SME. Research institutions are also eligible for funding if they are cooperation partners of an applicant company.

Funding is provided for personnel expenses, a flat-rate overhead surcharge and, to a limited extent, contracts with third parties. In the case of cooperation projects, up to € 450,000 per company and up to € 550,000 for individual projects are eligible for funding. The funding rate depends on a number of factors (e.g. location of the company, size of the company, form of cooperation, etc.) and ranges from 25 % to 60 %, so that the maximum grant is between € 112,500 and € 270,000. The funding is usually paid out every 3 months.

For all those who cannot wait with their innovation, ZIM also comes with a special extra. You can start the project at your own risk when you submit your application! If the project is then approved at a later point in time, you can subsequently invoice the work performed.

The ministry has also recognised that it is not only the development that involves a lot of effort, but also the market launch. In ZIM, services for market introduction can be funded for companies that are provided by external third parties and serve the economic exploitation of the results achieved in the funded R&D project. These external costs are then subsidised at 50%, up to a maximum of €30,000 in funding.

You can find more information on our funding advice here.

Author: Tobias Kübler

Tobias Kübler

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Tobias Kübler

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