Innovation and structural change / WIR!

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research envisages supporting a wave of transformation in so-called structurally weak regions across Germany by promoting specific, interdisciplinary innovation. Several new funding programmes have been planned.

Innovation and structural change / WIR!

East and West Germany alike are home to structurally weak regions, affected in equal measure by significant challenges - spanning economic, technological and societal spheres. The future must, therefore, embrace a perspective for promoting structural change in structurally weak regions across Germany.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research will therefore be promoting such transformation in structurally weak regions as part of efforts that will stretch beyond the end of the so-called Solidarity Pact II in 2019. As part of the new funding concept “Innovation and structural change”, the Ministry will pursue measures that take a targeted approach to bolstering regional innovation potential. Even structurally weak regions in West German states are due to benefit from this no later than 2020.

Several new funding programmes

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research intends to hone the innovation competency of central stakeholders in the region by implementing several new funding programmes, and thus creating an open climate for innovation. The Ministry will be supporting strategic collaborative measures with universities, research institutes and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in particular. Delivering successful innovation and attractive working conditions for the highly qualified professionals of tomorrow in the long term will generate the necessary impulses for dynamic development within the regions. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has adopted an open approach to funding, both in terms of topic and technology, which explicitly incorporates social, organisational and non-technical innovation.

The pilot programme “Innovation and structural change” (German: WIR! – Wandel durch Innovation in der Region) promotes the development of regional innovation concepts, and supports confederations that traverse disciplinary, industrial, institutional and administrative thresholds, and which also thrive on civic involvement. The programme should also extend to those stakeholders who lack the necessary experience in innovation, and who operate beyond the existing innovation centres. As well as technological innovation, the programme also embraces social and non-technical innovation.

The basis: entrepreneurial Regions

The concept “Innovation and structural change” and WIR! – the new funding programme – are based on the experiences from the innovation initiative “Entrepreneurial Regions” (German: Unternehmen Region), which the Ministry has used to invest almost € 2 billion since the year 2000 in innovation networks predominantly situated in the New German Länder.