Exciting new findings emerge during research at universities and non-university research institutions - sometimes already with concrete ideas for their practical application. But in order to find out whether the idea is actually suitable for an innovative product or a new service, further research is often required. The funding measure "Validation of the Technological and Societal Innovation Potential of Scientific Research - VIP+" closes this gap between initial results from basic research and a possible application.
Target group of the funding
With this funding measure, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports researchers from all scientific disciplines and research fields at
- non-university research institutions jointly funded by the Federal Government and the Länder, and
- at federal institutions with research and development (R&D) tasks.
Object of funding
The funding measure makes it possible to systematically validate research results and, in the process of validation, to open up possible areas of application and exploitation that can be expected to have a high economic or societal benefit. In this way, the researchers contribute to strengthening the transfer culture in their institutions as well as in the science and research landscape as a whole.
In the process of knowledge and discovery transfer, validation forms the bridge between discovery and exploitation or application:
- Discovery phase:
In the discovery phase, promising research results are identified that are expected to have a high innovation potential, which is to be proven in the subsequent validation phase. The identification phase is part of basic research, through which fundamental knowledge is gained.
- Validation phase:
The aim of the validation phase is to test, prove and evaluate the innovation potential of the identified research results and successively open up possible areas of application and exploitation. Legal and ethical framework conditions as well as the acceptance of the market and society must be taken into account.
- Exploitation or application phase:
The exploitation or application of validated research results usually takes the form of implementation in innovative products, processes or services. Both economic exploitation, for example in networks, by licensing or by founding a company, and non-economic application, the benefits of which lie in the national economy or in society as a whole, can be considered.
For the discovery phase, the BMBF relies on existing funding for basic research. For the exploitation phase, such as start-up funding, federal and state funding programs are available. The VIP+ funding measure is therefore aimed exclusively at the validation phase. It addresses all scientific disciplines and research areas. At the same time, it is open for different ways of subsequent exploitation or application. Thus, the VIP+ funding measure complements approaches in the federal government's specialist programs that are topic-related or geared to specific exploitation paths.
Projects from all research areas that systematically demonstrate the feasibility and practicability as well as the innovation potential of research results and are in the validation phase (see above) are eligible for funding. In particular, projects are to be funded whose results can lead to significant innovations (level of innovation) and which have a high economic or societal innovation potential.
Projects may include, for example, the following validation activities:
- Investigations to demonstrate feasibility,
- development of demonstrators or functional models, performance of test series or pilot applications to prove suitability and acceptance,
- application-oriented basic research to further develop research results in the direction of application or to adapt them to new areas of application,
- evaluative analyses to prove the economic or social innovation potential (for example, for social innovations), and
- Industrial property rights analysis and protection.
On completion of the validation activities, all the evidence required for the subsequent exploitation or application phase should be provided.
Binding support concept
To ensure the success of validation, each project must submit and implement a binding support concept. The support concept shows how
- possible applications and user groups for the research result to be validated are identified,
- the user requirements as well as the requirements of possible exploiters or users for the validation are determined,
- legal and ethical framework conditions are taken into account, and
- preparing for exploitation or application following validation.
As part of the support concept, innovation mentors are to be involved in the project. They are to ensure the integration of empirical knowledge from successful innovation processes and, if applicable, from practical experience into the project. The mentors and other stakeholders involved in the support concept must declare their willingness to participate in writing to the applicant institution.
Further development and implementation
The further development and implementation path of the work, in particular the exploitation or concrete application, is the responsibility of the applicant. Upon request, the project management organization will provide advice in good time before the end of the project on possible paths and funding opportunities in the subsequent exploitation or application phase.
Both individual projects and collaborative projects can be funded.
Type and amount of funding
Grants can be awarded in the form of non-repayable subsidies for a period of up to 3 years.
If federal institutions with R&D tasks are funded, they receive grants by way of allocation.
The amount of the grant per project is based on the requirements of the project applied for, within the limits of the funds available. As a rule, the grant should not exceed EUR 500,000 per project or collaborative project and year (i.e. a total of EUR 1,500,000). Projects with a shorter duration or lower funding requirements are also addressed.
Grants can be used for personnel, material and travel expenses as well as project-related equipment investments that are not part of the applicant's basic equipment. Due to the openness of the measure to different research areas and facility types, different priorities may be necessary in individual projects.
Necessary expenses or costs for securing property rights in the member states of the European Union during the term of a project are eligible for funding, provided they are not already supported by other federal and state funding measures.
The basis of assessment for universities, research and science institutions and comparable institutions is the eligible project-related expenditure (in the case of Helmholtz centers and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the eligible project-related costs), which can be funded individually up to 100 percent. In the case of research projects at universities, a flat-rate project allowance of 20 percent is granted on top of the federal grant.
There is no entitlement to the grant. Rather, the granting authority decides on the basis of its dutiful discretion within the framework of the available budget funds.