“ZIM” stands for “Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand”, which means “Central Innovation Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)”. It is a funding programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action that aims to foster the innovative capacity of SMEs. It launches several thousand new projects every year all around Germany, making it the country’s largest innovation programme for SMEs.
ZIM funds innovative companies with business operations in Germany which want to develop new or significantly improve existing products, processes or technical services. Public and private non-profit research and technology organisations (RTOs) acting as a cooperation partner of an SME are also eligible for ZIM funding. The programme is open to all sectors and fields of technology. Funded projects must be highly innovative, market-oriented and entail a substantial technological risk.
Since ZIM strictly focuses on the needs of SMEs, it offers easy application and quick decision-making processes. Another feature which accommodates the needs of SMEs is that ZIM offers a range of possibilities to structure innovative activities in various project forms. They also include various possibilities for transnational cooperation.