Central Innovation Program (ZIM)

The ZIM programme (Central Innovation Programme for SMEs/Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand) is a German funding programme for small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) and partner research institutes, who together want to develop new or significantly improve existing products, processes or technologies.

The aim is to sustainably boost innovation and competitiveness, and thus contribute to economic growth and generation of new jobs.
ZIM has 3 funding options: individual projects, cooperation projects and cooperation networks.
Funding for individual and cooperation projects: SMEs receive 25-55% of project costs (max. project cost €380,000); research institutes receive 100% costs (max. €190,000).

Funding for individual and cooperation projects:


-receive 25-55% of project costs

-max. project cost €380,000

Research Institutes:

-receive 100% costs

-max. €190,000

The aim is to fund the management of innovative company networks and R&D projects generated by them. External network management commissioned by the participating SMEs is supported.

ZIM cooperation networks consist of 3 phases:

Phase 1 Conception (1st Year, 90% funding):

  • Development and refinement of network design and contracts
  • Establishment of the network in the public domain
  • Development of a technological roadmap setting out potential R&D projects

Phase 2 Implementation (2nd year 70% funding, 3rd year 50%, optional 4th year 30%)

  • Coordination and implementation of network design with R&D projects
  • Preparation for market launch and stabilization of network

Phase 3 Joint realization (no funding)

  • Foundation of a project business
  • Participation of all network partners as either shareholders or preferential partners
  • Joint development of concepts from Phase 1 + 2