Artificial intelligence; application for funding for projects by small and medium-sized enterprises.

If you are a small or medium-sized company and want to carry out a new project in the field of artificial intelligence, either alone or with partners from science and/or industry, which has not yet been started, you can receive funding under certain conditions.



Eligible to apply are:

  • small and medium-sized enterprises. This means,
    • employ less 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.
  • Companies that are not SMEs
  • Universities
  • university and non-university research institutions
  • associations
  • associations
  • other organizations with an interest in research and development (R&D)

Other requirements for start-ups:

  • You have completed the start-up phase, started productive business activities and have been able to demonstrate economic performance on the market through corresponding customer projects or orders.
  • You have permanent employees with proven expertise in IT and proven expertise in the CI fields to the required extent.
  • They are in a position to raise the own contribution to be made within the framework of a share financing of the project from current business operations.

In general:

  • You are conducting a research and development project with partners from science or industry that meets the following requirements:
    • The focus and degree of novelty of the projects must be on intelligent approaches in which the AI to be used leads to a clear added value compared to established processes.
    • The protection of personal data and privacy must be ensured and the social and cultural participation of individuals must be taken into account.
    • The projects must be SME-driven and their results must benefit Germany as a business location beyond the network.
    • They have a sufficient data basis in both quantitative and qualitative terms.
    • The solutions to be developed should be easily transferable and applicable in different domains.
    • The project comes from the range of topics
      • automated information processing
      • digital assistants: e.g. for people in dangerous or stressful environments, for the social domain (e.g. limited or elderly people, self-determined living, people in stressful situations)
      • Computer vision or image understanding
      • Speech and text comprehension:
        • domain-specific content
        • target group specific content, for example age, dialect, non-native speakers
        • privacy-by-design approaches for such systems
      • data-driven systems and data engineering
      • basic questions about intelligent systems:
        • for example, traceability and explainability of processes and systems for automated decision support and decision making;
        • new approaches to establishing transparency in AI systems.
    • The project originates from one of the domains
      • Renewable energy, ecology and environmental protection,
      • Logistics, Mobility and Automotive,
      • production technologies, process control and automation,
      • innovative user-oriented services or
      • Data and information and communication technology economy (ITC).
  • Consideration of European and German data protection guidelines is mandatory. New or further development of hardware is not eligible for funding.


The application procedure for funding projects in research, development and use of artificial intelligence methods has 2 stages.

Stage 1: Project outline

  • As a project partner, you submit a joint project outline consisting of a maximum of 10 DIN A4 pages (1.5 line spacing, Arial font, size at least 11 pt) to the project management organization Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. and via the PT-Outline portal.
  • In addition to preparing the project outline, you must print out the PT Outline project sheet, sign it and send it by mail to the project management organization (PT).
  • The project outline will be evaluated, if necessary with the participation of external reviewers, in a competitive procedure according to the following criteria:
    • Level of innovation and scientific excellence of the approach/proposed solution under the given technical and economic constraints, comprehensibility of the methods to be used;
    • Availability or creation of a sufficient data basis and feasibility of the approach for the specified time horizon with the specified quantity structure;
    • Verbund structure, competence profile and own previous achievements;
    • Utilization, relevance of the proposed solution for scientific and industrial applications.
  • If your project idea is selected, you will receive a positive written request to submit the application (stage 2).

Stage 2: Application

You submit your application for funding for a project in research, development and exploitation of artificial intelligence methods as follows:

  • Submit the application 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.
  • Fill in all the fields required for the application and submit it 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 along 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 will be evaluated and reviewed according to the following criteria:
    • Proof of SME status through SME declaration as well as significant share of research performance by the participating SME(s).
    • Implementation of any conditions from the first stage and compliance with the financial framework recommended there for funding
    • Quality of the detailed description of the solution concept, the work plan and the organization of the collaboration in the network
    • The informative value of the detailed description of the exploitation plan, also with regard to the funding policy objectives of this funding measure.
    • Eligibility of the requested funds;
    • Necessity and appropriateness of the requested funds
    • Comprehensibility of the explanations of the financing plan, including, in the case of companies, a description of how the company's own contribution will be raised.
  • You will receive a decision on your application.
  • In the event of a positive decision, you will receive a notification of funding by post.


You can submit your project outline at any time to the commissioned project management organization of the BMBF (DLR-PT). However, please note the evaluation deadline of 15.10.2023 for project outlines.

The submission deadline is not considered a cut-off deadline, but project outlines received after the date specified above may not be considered.

Processing time

The evaluation of the project outline usually takes 4 months after submission of the project outline. (4 months)

Required documents

  • Required Documents

    Für die erste Verfahrensstufe ist eine Projektskizze mit folgenden Angaben nötig:

    • Deckblatt mit Projektbezeichnung, Postanschrift, Telefon und EMail des Einsenders sowie den Angaben zu Gesamtkosten, Zuwendungsbedarf und Laufzeit
    • Motivation, Ausgangsfrage, Ziele und gesellschaftlicher Bedarf des geplanten Vorhabens
    • Stand der Forschung und Technik, Neuheit des Lösungsansatzes, eigene Vorarbeiten, Datengrundlage, Abgrenzung zu früheren und laufenden nationalen und internationalen Forschungsarbeiten
    • Darstellung der Kooperationspartner, bei Unternehmen inklusive des aufzubringenden Eigenanteils;
    • Beschreibung des eigenen Lösungsweges mit Untersetzung der anzuwendenden Methoden
    • Zeit und Arbeitsgrobplanung mit Personenmonaten pro Partner
    • Arbeitsplan mit Darstellung der Beiträge aller beteiligten Partner
    • tabellarische Finanzierungsübersicht
    • Verwertungsplan mit Erläuterungen zu Marktpotenzial, Konkurrenzsituation, wirtschaftliche und wissenschaftlichtechnische Erfolgsaussichten, Anschlussfähigkeit, Mehrwert für den Standort Deutschland
    • Nachweis des Status aller beteiligten KMU durch KMU-Erklärung

Online procedures


  • Levy: none


  • administrative claim


Responsible for editing:Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

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