Innovative Hochschule

The funding measure "Innovative Hochschule" supports third mission activities at German universities to boost knowledge transfer and innovation. It is aimed in particular at small and mid-size universities and universities of applied sciences.

Germany’s diverse university landscape generates a continuous flow of new ideas, new knowledge and new technologies. The close and mutual exchange between universities and players from business, the arts and society is an important driver of innovation. To ensure that technological and social innovations from our universities continue to be our drivers of prosperity and quality of life, the German Federal and States governments recently launched the funding measure Innovative Hochschule to promote the research-based transfer of ideas, knowledge and technology. The Innovative Hochschule initiative makes the process of converting research results from all branches of science into creative solutions for the most pressing challenges of today's world even more efficient.

Forscher im Labor
Forscher im Labor © thinkstock

Strengthening universities in the regional innovation system

Universities are an indispensable part of the regional innovation system. They spread knowledge within the region through teaching and research, they act as antennas for ideas and specific questions in their neighbourhood, and together with their partners they develop innovative solutions, products and services. Successful transfer is thus an interactive process. The Innovative Hochschule measure supports the strategic development and intensification of collaboration with corporations and other societal stakeholders, thereby strengthening the strategic role of universities in the regional innovation system.

Advancing the strategic development of idea, knowledge and technology transfer activities

The Innovative Hochschule measure is directed at universities which have already put in place a coherent strategy of interaction with businesses and society and have existing structures for and experience in idea, knowledge and technology transfer activities. Funding under the measure provides the institutions with resources to

  • continue the strategic development and implementation of their idea, knowledge and technology transfer profile across the university as a whole or in selected subject areas,
  • optimize their transfer structures,
  • continue expanding their networking with regional partners,
  • strategically align  existing transfer instruments, and,
  • above all, create and further develop innovative forms of collaboration with business, the arts and society.

Co-funding from the Federal and States Governments: 550 million euros for the period up to 2027

The Innovative Hochschule measure will provide up to 550 million euros in funding for two selection rounds lasting five years each. It is directed mainly at small and mid-size universities as well as universities of applied sciences. The funding will be made available in a ratio of 90:10 by the Federal Government and the respective state (Land) where the institution is located. At least half of the amount of funding and at least half of the funding allocations will be provided to universities of applied sciences or consortia coordinated by a university of applied sciences.

Public universities and state-accredited universities which receive public refinancing are eligible for funding under this scheme. University consortia may also submit applications for funding. Up to 2 million euros per year are available for single university applications. University consortia may apply for up to 3 million euros of funding per year.

Private corporations, educational and research institutions and non-profit organizations and associations located in the region may submit joint applications with a university or university consortium. Partners from other regions can also be included, and receive funding, if the university aims to enhance its transfer profile in the humanities, social sciences or cultural sciences. In cases of joint applications, at least 70% of the funding must be allocated to universities.

An independent selection committee makes the funding approval decisions in a competitive science-driven assessment process.

When submitting the applications, the universities outline a tenable strategy for interaction with business and society (transfer strategy) in addition to an implementation plan for their ideas, knowledge and technology transfer measures. Projects proposed for funding must be linked to the university's transfer strategy. They must address the common strengths of the university and its partners, the strengths and weaknesses of existing transfer structures and activities as well as the needs, contributions and willingness of the partners to engage in long-term collaboration.