Making Germany’s Industry More Innovative and Competitive

The European Investment Fund (EIF) cooperates with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft to launch the Fraunhofer Tech Transfer Fund under the European Commission’s InnovFin program with a total volume of sixty million euros. They will be supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, EFSI, the heart of the Juncker Plan. The aim is to commercialize the intellectual property generated at the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft from its 72 thematic institutes across Germany. The agreement is also supported by InnovFin, the European program for innovative small and medium businesses. The two complementary partners – the EIF as an expert in fund structures and Fraunhofer as Europe’s largest application-oriented research institution – want to bridge the gap in early commercialization phases and grow more high-tech start-ups in Germany and Europe.

Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Pier Luigi Gilibert, EIF Chief Executive and Joachim Menze, Head of the Repre­senta­tion of the European Commis­sion in Munich (from left to right), at the foun­ding of the Fraun­hofer Tech Transfer Fund. (Source: M. Mueller / dedinag / FhG)

The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is an integral part of the German innovation system, the largest applied research organization in Europe and a model for applied research organizations worldwide. This is the first time that the EIF is promoting technology transfer from a public research body in Germany. Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds, a company specially established for this purpose, will have an exclusive opportunity to identify and finance spin-offs and licensing models from Fraunhofer institutes at an early stage of the innovation process. By providing funding for spin-offs and licensing models from Fraunhofer institutes, Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds will also create incentives for the research community to take its findings to market. Instruments for subsequent phases such as the High-Tech-Gründerfonds are already established.

Carlos Moedas, commissioner for Research, Science, and Innovation, said: “Technology transfer is of paramount importance if we want to keep Europe in pole position in the field of innovation. This tech transfer fund will help German researchers take the product of their work to the market and make Germany’s industry more innovative and competitive. This is another example of the Juncker Plan’s added value in the country.”

EIF chief executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert commented: “We are delighted to launch this Technology Transfer fund in Germany, with Europe’s largest applied research organization – Fraunhofer. Germany remains underserved in terms of Technology Transfer funds, in particular, for investments in capital-intensive sectors such as advanced materials or manufacturing digitalization due to limited appetite from private investors. EU resources play a catalytic role allowing these funds to reach meaningful sizes while contributing to Germany’s Technology Transfer and Venture Capital market.”

Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft said: “Spin-offs are a key vehicle for the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to exploit its intellectual property rights. They form an important and, above all, effective bridge between research and industry, and they act as a direct catalyst for the transfer of innovation. For Germany, as a hotbed of innovation, it is therefore vital that we increase the level of financial support for research spin-offs and place this on a firm footing. In setting up Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH, we are not only supporting young entrepreneurs from the research community during a critical phase but also making an important contribution to the transfer of new technology from the laboratory to the economy.”

A successful increase in the number of spin-offs as well as a sustainable participation strategy in spin-offs are declared goals of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The new fund is divided into various measures of the start-up strategy of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which also includes the new AHEAD funding program.

The fund benefits from the InnovFin Equity Facility for Early Stage with the financial backing of Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation program. In addition, the fund benefits amongst others from the ERP-EIF Facility, a joint Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany (BMWi) and EIF initiative to support financing of SMEs and start-ups in Germany. (Source: European Comission)

Links: FTTF – Fraunhofer Technologie-Transfer Fonds GmbH, Munich, GermanyEIF – European Investment Fund, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

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