Photonics or quantum technology; application for funding for projects by small and medium-sized enterprises.

If you are a small and medium-sized enterprise and want to carry out a new research and development (R&D) project in the field of photonics or quantum technology, either alone or with partners from science or industry, you can receive funding.



Eligible applicants are:

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises. This means,
    • Do not employ more than 250 employees,
    • have an annual turnover of no more than EUR 50 million or
    • have an annual balance sheet total of no more than EUR 43 million in the previous fiscal year.
  • Medium-sized companies. This means,
    • you do not employ more than 1,000 employees
    • or your sales do not exceed EUR 100 million
    • and you are not predominantly owned by a large company (shareholding up to 50 percent).
  • Together with SMEs or medium-sized companies in the context of a joint project, also universities, non-university research institutions and companies that do not meet the above criteria.

Generally applies:

  • You are conducting an industrial pre-competitive research and development project characterized by a high scientific and technical risk.
  • You are a company with research, development and production competence in the field of photonics or quantum technologies.
  • If you are carrying out the project in collaboration with several partners, the benefits of the project must primarily benefit the SMEs or medium-sized companies involved.
  • If you are carrying out the project in collaboration with several partners, at least half of the total funding requested must benefit the SMEs or SMEs involved.
  • If you want to start R&D activities in the field of photonics or quantum technologies for the first time, cooperation with an experienced partner is indicated.
  • The coordination of projects carried out jointly by several partners must always be the responsibility of one of the industrial companies involved, usually an SME. The exploitation of the results must primarily benefit the SMEs involved.


The application procedure has 2 stages.

Stage 1: Project outline

  • All project partners jointly submit a project outline of a maximum of 10 A4 pages via the "KMU-Innovativ" Internet portal.
  • In addition, the project sheet of the outline generated on the Internet portal must be signed and submitted to the commissioned project management organization VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH.
  • The project outline should contain a presentation with the following structure:
    • Topic and objective of the project
    • State of the art in science and technology, novelty of the solution, patent situation
    • Need for funding: scientific-technical and economic risk with justification of the need for state funding
    • Market potential, market environment, economic and scientific competitive situation
    • Brief description of the applying companies, concrete presentation of the business models and market perspectives with time horizon and target figures, presentation of the own contribution to be raised
    • Work plan, if applicable, network structure with work packages including presentation of the workload of all partners involved
    • Financing plan of all partners involved in the work
    • Exploitation plan (economic and scientific-technical prospects of success, possibilities of use and connectivity) with time horizon and planned figures
  • The project outline will be evaluated in a competitive procedure, if necessary with the participation of external experts, according to the following criteria:
    • Importance of the research objective, technological and economic potential, market perspective, contribution to market positioning, exploitation plan.
    • Quality and presentation of the solution approach, the work plan and the project and milestone objectives
    • level of innovation, risk assessment, necessity of the grant
    • Collaborative structure, qualification of partners, coordination, project management
    • Fit to the program line, presentation of financing, comprehensibility of cost estimates, fulfillment of the formal framework conditions of the funding guideline
  • You will be informed in writing about the result of the evaluation. If your project idea is selected, you will receive a written request to submit an application (stage 2).

Stage 2: Application

For your application for funding, you then proceed as follows:

  • Contact the responsible project sponsor, VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH, for advice on the steps required for this before submitting an application. You will then also receive further information on the documents to be submitted.
  • Applications can be submitted electronically via the "easy-Online" portal.
  • Call up the "easy-Online" Internet portal. There you will be guided step by step through the application process.
  • Complete all the fields required for the application and submit the application online with a qualified electronic signature.
    • If you do not have a qualified electronic signature, you must print out the application in addition to submitting it electronically, sign it, and send it to the project management organization in the next step together with the other application documents.
  • Once the application has been received by the project management organization, you will receive a confirmation of receipt.
  • The responsible person at the project management organization will contact you while your application is being processed in order to clarify any queries.
  • Applications are evaluated and reviewed according to the following criteria:
    • Organization of the collaboration in the network (not applicable to individual projects),
    • level of innovation,
    • Adequacy of preliminary costing/financing plan,
    • definition of quantitative project goals,
    • concrete exploitation plans of all collaborative partners,
    • Necessity of the grant.
  • As a rule, you will receive a decision on your application 2 months after submission of the complete form-related application.
  • In case of a positive decision, you will receive a notification of funding by mail.


You can submit your outline at any time via the online outline tool for the funding measure "KMU-innovativ: Photonik und Quantentechnologien". However, please note the evaluation deadlines for project outlines:

  • 15.04.2023, 2024, 2025
  • 15.10.2023, 2024, 2025

The submission deadline is not considered a cut-off deadline, but project outlines received after the above dates may not be considered in the current round.

Processing time

The review of the project outline is usually communicated 2 months after the respective submission deadline. (2 months)

Required documents

  • Required Documents

    Für die 1. Verfahrensstufe:

    • Projektskizze mit konkretem Bezug zu den Kriterien der Förderrichtlinie und allen wesentlichen Aussagen zur Beurteilung und Bewertung. Der Umfang soll 10 DIN-A-4-Seiten nicht überschreiten. Die Projektskizze soll eine Darstellung mit einer festgelegten Gliederung beinhalten (mehr dazu im Verfahrensablauf).
    • unterschriebenes Projektblatt

Online procedures


  • Levy: none


  • Action before the Administrative Court


Responsible for editing:Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

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