In order to support innovative companies in research and development projects, the Federal Government passed the Research Grants Act (FZulG) on 14 December 2019. Since 01.01.2020, small and medium-sized enterprises in particular can be supported in this way.
After the application for funding has been submitted to the Bescheinigungsstelle Forschungszulage (BSFZ), the content of the project is reviewed; in particular with regard to the funding criteria. As soon as a positive assessment has been made, the allowance can then be applied for at the competent tax office. However, this application can only be made after the end of a business year from the time the eligible expenses are incurred.

What criteria must a project fulfil in order to be funded?

The Research Grants Act applies to every taxable company – regardless of size, industry or age. This means that both companies that are already established on the market and start-ups that have just been founded can be supported.
In terms of content, the project must contribute to basic research, industrial research or experimental development. Furthermore, the research project must aim to gain new knowledge. To this end, it should not make use of already established hypotheses and concepts, but be based on new, original hypotheses. In this respect, the final result should not be obvious from the first glance at the working papers, but should be deliberately uncertain. In order for the research to show eligible added value, it must also be possible to repeat the result of the project or transfer it to other experiments or findings.
Finally, the federal government expects a certain systematic approach and planning of the project. Thus, the economic, scientific and technical tasks should be clearly defined and lead to defined goals. The analysis of results must also be evaluated on the basis of methodological principles.

What does the funding look like in concrete terms?

Currently and until 30.06.2026, the maximum amount of the tax base is 4 million euros. Of the individually determined assessment basis, 25% is then reimbursed as an allowance. Thus, up to one million euros can currently be paid out. Since there are no deadlines and the programme budget is not limited, even projects that have already started can be funded retroactively. Similarly, projects that are just starting can apply for a grant now.

Conclusion

Access to funding under the Research Grants Act is comparatively simple. The application to the BSFZ is fully electronic and requires only moderate effort in terms of the information to be provided. In the absence of a competitive process or programme budget cap, a relatively large number of companies can be subsidised. Furthermore, the funding programme of the Research Grants Act offers a great advantage over other funding programmes: There is no obligation on the part of the funded company to publish the results or to allow advantages in the use of the results.
If you still have unanswered questions about the programme or possible eligibility to apply, we will be happy to advise you.