The “Digitalbonus.Niedersachsen-innovativ” funding program supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Lower Saxony starting from June 25, 2024, in their investments in innovative projects for the introduction or improvement of hardware, software, and IT security. With this program, the state of Lower Saxony aims to accelerate the digital transformation in SMEs to unlock value creation potentials and increase the competitiveness of businesses.

Digitalbonus.Niedersachsen-innovativ at a glance:

  • Funding for investment projects in information and communication technology (ICT) hardware, software, or software licenses for the digitalization of products, services, or processes.
  • Investments in hardware, software, or software licenses for the introduction or improvement of IT security.
  • A one-time, non-repayable grant of up to 35 percent for small enterprises and up to 20 percent for medium-sized enterprises.
  • Funding amounts range from a minimum of 3,000 euros to a maximum of 50,000 euros.örderprogramme/Aktuelle-Förderprogramme/Digitalbonus.Niedersachsen-innovativ.html

Lower Saxony Center for Good Digital Work and Co-determination (ZegdAM)

The Lower Saxony Center for Good Digital Work and Co-determination (ZegdAM) was founded in mid-2017 with the help of two years of start-up funding from the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economics, Labor, Transport and Digitalization as part of the Lower Saxony Skilled Workers Initiative at the HVHS Springe e.V. Education and Conference Center. The ZegdAM pursues the goal of strengthening co-determination and consistent employee participation in corporate transformation processes. To this end, the ZegdAM offers systematically convey a forward-looking, proactive and strategic design approach. This approach takes a holistic and sustainable view of transformation processes in order to work toward good and fair working conditions and positive employment development. In addition to the “classic” digitization topics, ZegdAM is working with its cooperation partners to develop approaches for targeted employee qualification along operational product/service and industry transformations.

The ZegdAM- at a glance:

  • offers process facilitation, consulting, training, education, support, and networking
  • ZegdAM’s services are primarily aimed at works and staff councils, store stewards and trade unions
  • develops specific consulting and educational offers together with the requesting institutions

Digital Agency Lower Saxony

Since you have already found our website, you may have already had a chance to get an overview of what we offer. Here again what we do exactly: Since the beginning of 2019, the Digital Agency Lower Saxony has been presenting support offers for funding and consulting at a central point of contact – bundled and transparent in a “one-stop store”. By integrating previous networks, for example the Network Industry 4.0 Lower Saxony and the Project Office Digital Lower Saxony, the existing know-how flowed into the Digital Agency when it was founded. This enabled us to create synergy effects without duplicating structures.

Offerings of the Digital Agency Lower Saxony:

  • Help with the referral to counseling and support services
  • general information
  • Event recommendations
  • Digitalberatungsmap Niedersachsen of Lower Saxony with an overview of existing offers and contact points on topics of digitization

Demography agency for the economy

The Demography Agency for Business was founded as a consulting company by employers and trade unions. Its goal: to support companies in coping with demographic change and the ever more rapidly networking and digitizing work environment. A particular focus is on maintaining the work and employability of aging workforces while taking into account the respective needs – of both employees and companies. This interplay gives rise to a special need for cooperation between the social partners.

Services offered by the Demography Agency for the business community:

  • ZukunftsFest 4.0 (Analysis and award)
  • unternehmensWert:Mensch plus (Learning and experimentation rooms for digital solutions)
  • Audit Sustainable corporate culture (analysis, support and award)
  • WISKOM – Agility in knowledge & competence (consulting on continuing education and knowledge management)

SME Digital Centers in Lower Saxony

In Lower Saxony, there is the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Hannover, the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Lingen.Münster.Osnabrück and the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Handwerk. They offer on-site dialogs as initial advice, free training courses and events, and support for implementation projects.

The SME Digital Center Hannover (Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Hannover) is located at the Production Technology Center (PZH) of Leibniz Universität Hannover. The center helps medium-sized companies strengthen their competitiveness in the context of digitization and Industry 4.0. The services offered by the federally funded center are free of charge for companies. From hardware and software development to law and economics, energy transparency to Work 4.0 and self-control in production and logistics – research institutes in Hannover, Bremen, Braunschweig, Oldenburg and Göttingen support companies with bundled expertise.

The SME Digital Center Lingen.Münster.Osnabrück (Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Lingen.Münster.Osnabrück) supports small and medium-sized enterprises in identifying and implementing “data-driven business models” and accompanies the development process. The experts at the Center enable small and medium-sized enterprises to develop future-proof, data-driven business models and strategies or adapt existing ones to the changes through workshops, specialist seminars, online self-study programs and personal orientation meetings, both methodically and professionally. In addition, the experts help plan specific digitization projects and provide support during the implementation phase.

The SME Digital Center for Crafts (Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Handwerk) offers practical information, qualification and support services for every craft business in order to tap the technical and economic potential arising from the digital transformation and to secure competitive advantages for small and medium-sized craft businesses. We achieve this by informing craft enterprises about the opportunities of digitization, sensitizing them to the challenges and motivating them to implement their own digitization projects.,Veranstaltungen%20sowie%20Begleitung%20von%20Umsetzungsprojekten.

Funding guideline "Digitization of vehicle manufacturers and supplier industry"

The automotive industry, including manufacturers and suppliers, is currently facing massive upheaval and unparalleled structural change. As part of the economic stimulus program, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has earmarked KoPa 35c, an amount worth billions of euros for the digital transformation of vehicle manufacturers and the supplier industry, in order to be able to counter this upheaval with enormous efforts and investments. The program focuses on digitizing production and all related processes. The aim is to make the vehicle industry so resilient through digitization that it can continue to produce in the event of a crisis. The program will primarily support transformation-relevant innovations and investments as well as systems with cross-company value creation. Furthermore, investments worth billions of euros are planned in new concepts, processes and products as well as in qualification and production facilities.

The “Digitization of the vehicle manufacturing and supply industry” funding guideline at a glance:

  • Funding is provided for process-oriented individual and collaborative projects that cover significant parts of a value chain and deal, for example, with digital and networked manufacturing processes, digital twins or the analysis of manufacturing and usage data.
  • Projects must make a recognizable contribution to increasing competitiveness, efficiency, resilience, etc.
  • The funding guideline is aimed at commercial companies with links to the vehicle and supplier industry, with a registered office, branch or operating facility in Germany, as well as state and non-state universities, research institutes, public institutions and other institutions with an R&D interest.
  • Collaborative projects must consist of at least two partners. The participation of start-ups as well as SMEs is explicitly desired and will be positively considered during the project review.
  • The grant is awarded as a non-repayable subsidy (project funding) in the form of partial financing.
  • Deadlines: 31.3., 30.6., 30.9., 31.12. (until 30.6.2024)


The go-digital program has been extended until mid-2024. In addition to the modules “Digitized Business Processes,” “Digital Market Development” and “IT Security,” the funding program now also supports you in the two new modules “Digitization Strategy” and “Data Competence. For this purpose, the BMWi has authorized a number of competent consulting companies that will support you, for example, in finding individual solutions for your online trade, the digitization of your everyday business and the increasing need for security in digital networking. The consulting companies also take care of the application for funding, accounting and reporting.

go-digital at a glance:

  • Accompaniment by qualified consultants
  • for SMEs under 100 employees
  • Modules: Digitization Strategy, Digitization of Business Processes, Digital Market Development, IT Security and Data Competency
  • 50 percent subsidy
  • maximum 30 consultant days


In the course of advancing digitization, companies are facing major challenges. Disruptive innovations demand an examination of existing business, production and distribution processes. To master these challenges, you can benefit from the experience of the games industry. The APITs Lab supports you in this process. APITs stands for “Applied Interactive Technologies” and refers to technologies from the fields of serious games and gamification. The APITs Lab wants to make the know-how of the games industry accessible to companies – be it in terms of intuitive user guidance, gamification, simulation or the use of complex software. To this end, it brings together decision-makers from medium-sized companies and developers.

The APITs Lab at a glance:

  • Expertise in intuitive user guidance, gamification, simulation and the use of complex software
  • neutral and free advice
  • offers, among other things, lectures, showrooms or even development workshops
  • Identifies possible development potential with you step by step
  • arranges contacts to suitable actors

Social innovation

The “Social Innovation” funding program focuses on innovative and transferable projects in the two thematic areas of “services of general interest” and “the changing world of work”. On the one hand, this involves improving and securing access to health and social services and, on the other, adapting employees and employers to changes in the world of work. A wide variety of projects in terms of content, organization and structure are to be supported, which is why the focal points are deliberately kept open. The “Social Innovation Offices” have been created to support (potential) project sponsors in the development of solution approaches and to accompany them during implementation, especially those who are still inexperienced with the funding opportunities of the European Social Fund (ESF). The 2021 to 2027 funding period will start in 2022 with a new funding call. A total of 18.6 million euros in funding is available for the coming years.

The “Social Innovation” funding program at a glance:

  • for projects in Lower Saxony with start in March 2023 at the earliest
  • Project duration up to 36 months
  • Thematic priorities “Services of general interest: access to health and social services” or “Changing world of work”
  • 70 percent ESF funding, 80 percent ESF funding in the Lüneburg region (transition region, former Lüneburg district government)
  • remainder (30 or 40 percent): Co-financing, for example, through own funds, foundation funds or municipal funds
  • Total cost of a funded project up to 750,000 euros

Connecting Europe Facility (CEF Digital)

Connecting Europe Facility is one of the most important EU funding instruments to support growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investments at European level. The CEF Digital strand will help support an unprecedented amount of investment in secure and sustainable high-capacity infrastructure, in particular gigabit and 5G networks across the EU to support Europe’s digital transformation. In addition, CEF Digital will help increase the capacity and resilience of digital backbone infrastructures in all EU territories, especially in the outermost regions. The budget for CEF Digital for the 2021-2027 funding period is €1.6 billion.


  • Budget plan: €800 million for 5G coverage, €389 million for backbone connectivity for Digital Global Gateways, €142 million for 5G for Smart Communities, €100 million for backbone networks for pan-European cloud interconnectivity
  • Subsidy varies depending on the area (30% to 75%)

Digital Now: The programme has expired

With the “Digital now – investment support for SMEs” funding program, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in digitization as well as employee qualification in order to make them competitive and future-proof in the long term. Grants of up to 70 percent can be applied for under two modules. Module 1 covers investment in digital technologies, i.e. the acquisition of new hardware and software. Module 2 involves investing in employee training on digital topics. Modules 1 and 2 can also be used cumulatively. SMEs in trade and industry, the skilled trades and the liberal professions with 3 to 499 employees and an operating site in Germany are eligible to apply.

The “Digital now – investment support for SMEs” program at a glance:

  • Only projects that have not yet been started at the time of approval are eligible for funding
  • Prerequisite for funding is the submission of a digitization plan
  • The maximum funding amount in detail:
    • for sole proprietorships up to 50,000 euros
    • for investments by companies in value chains and networks up to 100,000 euros per applicant with a funding rate of up to 50 percent.
  • The minimum funding amount in detail:
    • for module 1 17.000 Euro
    • for the joint use of the two modules 17,000 euros
    • for module 2 3.000 Euro
  • The funding rate is additionally graded according to the size of the company.
  • The project executing agency for the new program is DLR Projektträger.

The Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) and European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH)

The DIGITAL program is designed to help address the challenges of digital transformation and focuses on making digital technologies accessible to companies, citizens and public administrations. It does so by supporting projects in five key areas: Supercomputing, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Advanced Digital Skills, and Ensuring Widespread Use of Digital Technology in Business and Society (enabled, among others, by Digital Innovation Centers/Digital Innovation Hubs). With a planned total budget of €7.5 billion, it aims to accelerate economic recovery and shape the digital transformation of European society and economy, benefiting everyone, but especially small and medium-sized enterprises. The program complements the funds available under other programs (e.g. Horizon, Connecting Europe Facility, etc.). 

  • Budget plan: 2.2 billion euros for supercomputing, 2.1 billion euros for artificial intelligence, 1.6 billion euros for cybersecurity, 580 million euros for advanced digital skills, 1.1 billion euros for ensuring the widespread use of digital technology in business and society
  • Co-financing based on actual costs incurred: EU funding rate of 50% applies to the eligible costs of the measures actually incurred during their lifetime

ERP-Digitization and Innovation Loan

The ERP Digitization and Innovation Loan (ERP: European Recovery Programme) provides innovative commercial enterprises in Germany with low-interest financing for their projects in Germany. The financing is provided in the form of a low-interest loan. The financing partners are offered an optional liability exemption of 70 percent for loans. Small and medium-sized enterprises as defined by the EU receive liability-free loans at particularly favorable conditions.

The ERP Digitization Loan at a glance:

  • Offer from KfW
  • For companies with up to 499 employees (small-mid caps)
  • At least two meaningful annual financial statements must be available.
  • up to 25 million euros
  • up to ten years term
  • up to 70 percent release from liability of the house bank possible

SME-Fonds 2024

The SME Fund “Ideas Powered for business” is a financial assistance program designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU protect their intellectual property rights. The SME Fund is an initiative of the European Commission, implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Intellectual property protection through the SME Fund can cover many different assets, including trademarks, designs, patents and plant varieties. All SMEs located in the EU can apply for a grant. SME Fund is a reimbursement program where vouchers can be applied for, providing access to partial reimbursement of fees. 

  • For all SMEs established in the EU (owners, authorized employees or external representatives can apply).
  • Duration: 22 January 2024 to 6 December 2024
  • Limited funds – first come first serve
  • maximum reimbursable amount per SME:
    • 1350 euros for activities related to the IP scan
    • 1000 Euro for activities related to trademarks and designs
    • 3500 Euro for activities related to patents
    • 1500 euros for the application for Community plant variety rights
  • Vouchers are valid for two months after receipt (extension can be requested) 


The InvestEU program mobilizes significant private and public funds to support sustainable economic recovery, providing the EU with much-needed long-term financing. On the one hand, companies receive important support within this framework, and on the other hand, it also helps to stimulate private investment for political priorities (e.g. the digital transformation). InvestEU brings together under one umbrella the numerous EU funding resources currently available to support investment in the EU, making EU financing of investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. It will provide an EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion and, in addition, is expected to mobilize more than €372 billion worth of public and private investment. 

  • Support the following areas:
  • Sustainable infrastructure: 9.9 billion euros
  • Research, innovation and digitization: 6.6 billion euros
  • SMEs: 6.9 billion euros
  • Social investments and competencies: 2.8 billion euros

Innovative working environments in medium-sized companies

The funding measure is embedded in the “Future of Work – Innovations for Tomorrow’s Work” program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The program is designed to promote technological and social innovations in equal measure and is specifically geared toward small and medium-sized enterprises. With this funding measure, the Federal Ministry aims to make the working environments of small, medium-sized and mid-sized companies future-proof by means of R&D projects. In doing so, technological and organizational innovations are to contribute equally to a new quality of cooperation, the development of competencies among employees and the creation of sustainable value-added systems.

The “Innovative Working Environments in SMEs” funding program at a glance:

  • Eligible to apply within the framework of collaborative projects are SMEs and mid-sized companies (companies that, at the time of application, have neither more than 1,000 employees nor annual sales of more than 100 million euros) as well as governmental and non-governmental institutions of higher education (universities and universities of applied sciences) and non-university research institutions.
  • A prerequisite for funding is, in principle, the cooperation of several independent partners to solve joint R&D tasks (collaborative projects). SMEs and mid-sized companies must form the majority of the collaborative partners funded in the project.
  • Projects should not exceed a duration of two years, with operational implementation no later than the middle of the project duration.
  • Companies in the commercial sector and for projects of research institutions that fall within the scope of economic activities can be financed with up to 50 percent of the eligible project-related costs. For SMEs, the aid intensity can be increased by 10 percent to a maximum of 60 percent.
  • In the case of non-economic research projects at universities and university hospitals, a project lump sum of 20 percent is granted in addition to the funded eligible expenses.


The aim of Eurostars is to support European cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in research and development projects. Eurostars operates on the same principle as the overarching Eureka initiative: Eurostars projects are open to technology and serve civil purposes. They aim to develop an innovative product, process or service. According to the so-called “bottom-up principle”, the project contents can be freely determined by the participating partners. Funding for German project participants is provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. This is a grant (non-repayable funding).

The “Eurostars” funding program at a glance: 

      • German partners of a project receive a combined funding of max. 500,000 euros (SMEs receive priority funding for their projects)
      • Maximum project duration: 3 years
      • SMEs as well as universities and non-university research institutions are eligible to apply, provided they cooperate with at least one SME

Deadlines for submitting project applications: September 14, 2023, March 14, 2024 (2:00 p.m. in each case)

Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand (ZIM) (Central innovation program for small and medium-sized enterprises)

The Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) is a nationwide funding program that is open to all technologies and sectors. The ZIM is intended to sustainably support the innovative strength and competitiveness of companies and thus contribute to their growth combined with the creation and safeguarding of jobs. Medium-sized companies and research institutions working with them receive grants for ambitious research and development projects that lead to new products, technical services or improved production processes. The technological innovation content and good market opportunities of the funded R&D projects are essential for approval. The ZIM aims to create conditions that are suitable for SMEs and is geared to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. Companies can carry out research and development as individual projects or as cooperative projects with research institutions or other companies. In addition, the management and organization of innovative company networks are promoted. For both cooperation projects and networks, the ZIM also supports international partnerships.

The Central Innovation Program for SMEs at a glance:

  • Eligible are research and development in individual and cooperative projects as well as innovation networks
  • for companies with less than 500 employees
  • A maximum of 50 million euros in sales or 43 million euros in total assets
  • Subsidy up to 55 percent

Innovationsförderprogramm für Forschung und Entwicklung in Unternehmen (IFP) (Innovation Support Program for Research and Development in Companies)

The Innovation Support Program for Research and Development in Companies (IFP) supports innovative projects with a non-repayable grant. These include the development of new marketable products, production processes or services that represent a Germany-wide novelty.

The Innovation Support Program at a glance:

  • Eligible projects are industrial research and experimental development projects in which a high proportion of development work is carried out by the company’s own personnel in order to develop new or significantly improved, marketable products, production processes or services.
  • Promotion of individual, joint and cooperative projects
  • non-repayable grant of up to 500,000 euros
  • The grant amount is up to 100% for research institutions


In many areas of cutting-edge research, small and medium-sized enterprises are pioneers of technological progress. With KMU-innovativ, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to simplify the application and approval of funding for SMEs. A central pilot service helps with all questions, and binding processing deadlines provide planning security. Cutting-edge research offers SMEs the opportunity to compete successfully in the marketplace with new products and processes. SMEs are particularly flexible and fast when it comes to opening up new markets. This is especially true in new research fields, where speed is of the essence. The most important impetus in biotechnology and nanotechnology, for example, comes predominantly from SMEs. In the service industries, too, it is primarily SMEs that invest in research and development.

KMU-innovativ at a glance:

  • Eligible are industrial research and pre-competitive development projects of SMEs (different modules).
  • Cooperation projects are possible
  • Subsidy up to 50 percent
  • Fast procedure: No processing of sketch and application takes longer than four months in total

Niedrigschwelliges Innovationsförderprogramm (nIFP) (Low-threshold innovation support program)

If small or medium-sized enterprises want to improve their market opportunities, the realization of innovative projects is one way to do so. The low-threshold innovation funding program (nIFP) supports the development of improved or new products, production processes or services as well as new operational and organizational forms. Eligible for funding are small and medium-sized commercial enterprises (with an entry in the Commercial Register or as defined by the Crafts Code) with their registered office or place of business in Lower Saxony. Funding is provided for innovation projects in which a new or improved marketable product, production process or corresponding service is to be developed or further developed with the help of the company’s own research and development projects, which in each case exceed the company-related state of the art. The development and implementation of process and organizational innovations aimed at innovations or improvements in the goods and services produced can also be funded, as can expenses for the registration and validation of patents and industrial property rights, as well as measures for market launch, if they arise in a direct connection with the innovation project.

The Low-threshold Innovation Funding Program (nIFP) at a glance:

  • Eligible are SMEs and craft enterprises
  • Promotion of application-oriented, low-threshold development projects
  • Promotion of improved or new products, production processes, services and new forms of operational processes and organization
  • own development effort is necessary
  • Subsidy up to 35 percent, maximum 100,000 euros

Horizon Europe/Horizont Europa

Horizon Europe is the EU’s main funding program for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion. It promotes the EU’s scientific and technological excellence and strengthens the European Research Area (ERA). It addresses policy priorities and challenges, including environmental and digital transformation and the Sustainable Development Goals. The program aims to improve the use of innovation and strengthen competitiveness and employment.

  • Budget plan: 25.0 billion euros for scientific excellence, 53.5 billion euros for Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness, 13.6 billion euros for Innovative Europe, 3.4 billion euros for Broadening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area
  • European Innovation Council: Support for breakthrough disruptive innovations with expansion potential that are too risky for private investors (70% of funding earmarked for SMEs)
  • EU missions: better match EU research and innovation activities to the needs of society and citizens. There are for areas for the implementation of missions
    • Five areas: Climate Change Adaptation (including Societal Change); Cancer; Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters; Climate Neutral and Smart Cities; Soil Health- and Food
  • Open Science: mandatory open access to publications and the principles of open science are applied throughout the program
  • New approach to partnerships: Targeted and more ambitious partnerships with industry in support of EU policy goals