InnoProfile – The programme

The “InnoProfile” programme and its follow-up “InnoProfile-Transfer” link young researchers with regional businesses and thus systematically strengthen the ability of the East German economy to innovate.


In the New German Länder, economic development is to a certain extent dependent on the innovation capability of small and mid-sized companies (SMEs). In order to hasten the innovation process and further build up and develop regional strength at a local level, the Federal Research Ministry is, through “InnoProfile”, focusing on the technological and industry-specific collaboration of young scientists and the regional economy: junior research groups at publicly-financed research institutes focus their content on those businesses that shape the economic competence profile of their region, whose market and technology development shows particular potential, and which are, or can be, a significant component of the added value in their region. At the same time, the funding gains exactly the right professionals from business and science, who help shape the economic and technological processes in the region.

Those entitled to apply were universities and institutions from the Max-Planck- and Fraunhofer Association, the Hermann von Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association, which are based in the New German Länder. As with all of the “Entrepreneurial Regions” (German: Unternehmen Region) funding programmes, support for “InnoProfile” is not limited to particular technologies, industries or branches of the economy. The key is the business and technological potential for the region where the respective applicants are based.

In 2014, the “InnoProfile” funding approach and initiatives were comprehensively evaluated externally. The evaluation confirmed that the initiatives have made a significant contribution to increasing the respective specific innovation, research and educational profile in the regions. The 42 junior research groups included approximately 2,500 doctorates, students and apprentices; over 100 patents were registered and 17 start-ups were initiated. The basis for the positive results was, among other things, the high level of flexibility and freedom within the funding, as well as the structural programme criteria in conjunction with strategic thinking.

From the official start in 2005 to the end of the programme in 2013, the Federal Research Ministry made EUR 157 million worth of funds available to the 42 “InnoProfile” initiatives.

InnoProfile Transfer

The research results of the “InnoProfile” initiatives enabled multi-faceted approaches for an economic assessment; however, at the end of the funding phase, they still found themselves at the stage of application-based basic research. The risks of completely self-financed product or process developments were therefore still too high for a lot of small and mid-sized regional companies. The Federal Research Ministry therefore launched the funding programme “InnoProfile-Transfer”, which was aimed solely at the 42 junior research groups that had hitherto been supported in the “InnoProfile” programme. It aims to secure long-term collaboration between the university or research institute where the young research group is located and nearby businesses, secure a special innovation profile that has been developed in research, teaching and recruiting young talent at universities or public research institutes, accelerate the implementation of research results from junior research groups in innovations of the regional economy and thus increase the region’s innovation, increase the participation of SMEs in research and innovation projects. In contrast to the preceding “InnoProfile” funding, "InnoProfile-Transfer" aims to secure financial commitment from businesses.

Up until 2019, the Federal Research Ministry has made EUR 122.7 million available for the 51 "InnoProfile-Transfer" projects currently in progress. These include

21 Endowed professorships: At universities and research institutes, a total of 21 endowed professorships have been established, which are financed over five years largely by regional businesses. The endowed professors each run a junior research group; these are oriented towards the research profile of the respective "InnoProfile" group and towards the leading research requirement of those SMEs that influence the economic profile at the group’s location.

Market-oriented joint project: The projects are based on the research of previously-funded “InnoProfile” groups with the SMEs of their respective region. At least three, but a maximum of five, nearby companies participate. This satisfies the majority of the European Commission’s definition of an SME.

7 junior research groups: As connection research projects from previous “InnoProfile” initiatives, the junior research groups orient themselves towards what the leading research requirement of the SMEs is, which influences the economic profile at the group’s location.

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