GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund
The GSI Innovation Fund is an internal funding instrument of GSI and FAIR for technology transfer projects. The aim is the product-oriented validation and further development of market-relevant technological potential from research and development at GSI and FAIR - ideally together with an industrial partner.
Employees of GSI/FAIR can apply for funds from the fund in order to use them, for example, for further development of the product idea in prototypes, feasibility studies or also equity financing for public funding programmes with the aim of technology validation. If an industrial partner is involved in the project, it bears its own costs.
RETURN FLOW CONCEPT:
The Innovation Fund is a seed fund that is sustainably financed using financial returns from license agreements, contract research, sales and services. This return flow concept is the basis of the Innovation Fund’s principle: innovative projects are funded aiming to generate returns for the researchers, the institutes and the Innovation Fund. A share of these returns is used to promote new projects via the Innovation Fund.
Ideas for technical solutions or processes and research results are often not far enough advanced or not sufficiently verified to attract cooperation partners from the fields of development & research or the industrial sphere for joint further development or even marketing. Access to public funding in the area of validation often also requires a certain degree of maturity that goes beyond common laboratory or research standards.
These projects are referred to as “technology transfer pre-projects”. In the first step these projects are primarily about increasing the degree of technological maturity and therefore the endeavour’s market relevance. Examples of this are feasibility studies or the construction of a prototype. The required financial resources (or a share thereof) can be applied for from our own Innovation Fund.
This allows for specific application strategies to be developed in cooperation with the Technology Transfer Department (TTR), or even for application initiatives to be launched.
2. Validation Project
Research results and technical solutions from GSI and FAIR are usually not marketable. Further funding is required to allow for the technology, process and/or software to be developed further and be turned into a product.
This further development takes place in so-called validation projects that are ideally handled in cooperation with an industry partner. Depending on the project scope, the resulting internal funding requirements are covered via public validation funding (funding of the required applicant’s contribution by GSI) or with resources from our own Innovation Fund.
GSI/FAIR and the industry partner will then cooperate to turn the research results or technical solutions into marketable products or processes. The resulting product is marketed by the industry partner.
3. Service project
A wide range of skills in the areas of service and contract research is represented at GSI/FAIR.
To increase the level of professionalism of these external services in cooperation with TTR, it is often necessary to take measures for translating a service idea into a viable concept, to identify potential customers, define the services offered, realise marketing activities, etc. The required financial resources (or a share thereof) can be applied for from our own Innovation Fund.
4. Start-up Project
The result of many years of research work sometimes gives rise to a business idea and students or researchers may be interested to find out, if starting a business might be an option.
Translating innovative ideas and results into a business model obviously requires advisory services and support for drawing up a sound business plan. Funding for such services (or a share thereof) can be provided from our own Innovation Fund. TTR offers advice and guidance to staff members of GSI/FAIR who are realising these types of start-up project.
- Applications for funding of transfer projects are to be submitted to TTR.
- Applications are submitted in a 2-stage process and can be submitted continuously throughout the year.
1st stage „Project idea“:
- Submission of an informal project outline (Annex I_idea profile) to TTR.
- Informal presentation of the project idea to the Innovation Board by the person responsible for the project.
- Innovation board checks the eligibility of the idea and makes a recommendation for the application.
2nd stage „Funding request“:
- Together with the idea providers/project managers, TTR will draw up a project and financing plan including an assessment of possible applications and market potential (Annex II Application document) and provide support in the search for partners in industry or research & development.
- When submitting an application, the involvement of the applicant's direct supervisor and, if applicable, the division management is required, especially in the case of compensation for working hours or time off.
- The project proposal is presented in full to the GSI Innovation Board as an expert committee by the persons responsible for the project.
- Finally, the innovation board makes a recommendation to the management regarding the non-financing/financing of the individual projects and their financial scope.
- Meetings of the Innovation Board take place several times per year (at least 3 times per year). The dates of the associated submission deadlines for project ideas to TTR to apply for funding from the Innovation Fund, can be found in the right sidebar above.
- The implementation of the projects is the responsibility of the idea providers/project managers and is flanked by TTR.
- Project reporting takes place in the innovation board during the year and annual reporting of project progress to the management.
What is the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund?
The GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund is an essential instrument for supporting technology transfer and establishing effective transfer structures at GSI/FAIR, especially for financing the product-oriented validation and further development of market-relevant technological potential from research and development at GSI and FAIR. The main objective of the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund as an internal funding instrument is to improve funding opportunities for technology transfer projects at GSI/FAIR and to create a resource for transfer projects. As a secondary objective, the establishment of the Centre's own innovation fund is also expected to have a positive effect on further strengthening the innovation culture at the Centre.
The GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund is intended to ensure that all of the Centre's transfer ideas that are considered to have potential are transferred on a needs-oriented basis to a state in which direct utilisation or follow-up financing of further development/validation with external funds is possible. The current transfer potential of GSI/FAIR should thus be better exploited and expanded in the long term. In addition, own funds are to be made available for improved cooperation with industry in joint R&D projects and strategic partnerships, or spin-offs are to be prepared in a more targeted manner.
How is the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund financed?
The Innovation Fund is a seed fund that is sustainably financed by financial returns from licensing revenues, contract research, sales and services. In addition, the Innovation Fund receives further financial resources through the Helmholtz funding project "HGF Innovationsfonds" until 2025. This return flow concept is the basis of the innovation fund principle: innovative projects receive funding with the aim of generating returns for the scientists, the institutes and the innovation fund. A portion of these are in turn used to fund new projects through the Innovation Fund.
If fewer funds are used in a year than were newly allocated, corresponding additional expenditures are available in the following year.
Who is responsible for the Innovation Fund at GSI/FAIR?
The management of the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund (fund manager) is the responsibility of the management of TTR. The management may delegate the operational management to other persons. The management includes the necessary coordination with the management and the specialised departments of GSI and FAIR, the formulation of the funding regulations, the implementation of publicity measures, the organisation of the selection of individual measures to be funded, the conclusion of agreements with the persons responsible for the individual measures as well as the controlling and reporting.
What exactly can be financed with the funds - what are the funding conditions?
The following funding conditions apply for the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund:
- Application and approval is possible several times a year.
- Free application path: no specifications regarding the aspired to application strategies, but flexible arrangements in line with the respective project’s nature (spin-off, licensing, services).
- No specifications regarding the product’s current development phase.
- No restrictions regarding the use of invested resources. However, the usual requirements for funding (economical use, necessity, etc.) and procurement rules must be complied with.
- No minimum or maximum project duration is specified, but funding for individual projects should usually not exceed a duration of 3 years.
- No limitation of costs granted, but all expenses must be justified and verified. The level of detail of the cost justification can be adjusted to the respective funding requested.
- Applicant’s contributions may be provided for externally funded projects in the context of transfer activities.
- No provisions regarding the involvement of partners, in particular concerning the integration of application-oriented development competences (e.g.: Fraunhofer Institutes, universities) and market-oriented consultants, business mentors etc., including the possibility of full external handling.
- If an external partner is involved in the project, they will bear the costs they incur.
- To increase the efficiency of resource use, milestones are specified clearly, as are criteria for potentially abandoning the project at critical milestones.
- GSI/FAIR participates financially in the commercial success of the results of funded transfer projects.
As far as this is possible in the individual case (passing ability, deadlines, etc.), transfer projects should not be fully funded using resources from the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund. Further external funding programmes should be used (e.g. VIP+, ZIM, AiF, WIPANO, LOEWE, EXIST). The GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund can provide the applicant’s contribution required for such funding. This enables the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund to contribute to funding a large number of promising transfer projects despite its limitations. The GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund comes into play where no other third-party funding is available.
How can I apply for funding?
Applications for funding of transfer projects must be sent to TTR. Applications can be submitted throughout the year using an informal outline of ideas (Annex I_idea profile).
Together with the idea providers/project managers, TTR develops a project and financing plan including an assessment of possible applications and market potential and provides support in the search for partners in industry or research & development.
Eligible topics are presented in full to the GSI and FAIR Innovation Board by the idea providers/project managers.
Who decides on funding?
Decisions to grant funding from the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund for individual measures in the context of the applied for transfer projects are made in a meeting of the Innovation Board of GSI and FAIR, following a presentation of the project by the respective project coordinator and submission of the full set of application documents that were drawn up with support from TTR. The decisions are documented by TTR. The following distinction is made:
- Funding or co-funding amount from the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund > EUR 50 k:
Management Board GSI & FAIR decides ideally within three weeks of submission of the full set of application documents and based on the recommendation of the GSI/FAIR Innovation Board for funding/rejection of funding for the individual projects and their financial scale.
- Funding or co-funding amount from the GSI/FAIR Innovation Fund < EUR 50 k:
Innovation Board of GSI and FAIR decides by majority vote (in accordance with the statutes), ideally within three weeks of submission of the full set of application documents.