European Investment Fund and Fraunhofer join forces to establish joint technology transfer fund in Germany
The European Investment Fund (EIF) cooperates with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to launch the Fraunhofer Tech Transfer Fund under the European Commission’s InnovFin programme with a total volume of 60 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 prop-erty generated at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft from its 72 thematic Fraunhofer Institutes across Germany. The agreement is also supported by InnovFin, the European programme for innovative small and medium businesses. The two complementary partners – the EIF as an expert in fund structures and Fraunho-fer 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.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is an integral part of the German innovation system, the largest applied research organisation in Europe and a model for applied research organi-sations worldwide. This is the first time that the EIF is promoting technology transfer from a public research body in Germany. Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH, 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 GmbH 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 competi-tive. This is another example of the Juncker Plan's added value in the country."
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 re-search 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 re-search community during a critical phase but also making an important contribution to the transfer of new technology from the laboratory to the economy.”
EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert commented: “We are delighted to launch this Technology Transfer fund in Germany, with Europe’s largest applied research organisa-tion - Fraunhofer. Germany remains underserved in terms of Technology Transfer funds, in particular, for investments in capital-intensive sectors such as advanced materials or manufacturing digitalisation 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.”
Comprehensive spin-off strategy
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 programme. In addition, the fund benefits amongst others from the ERP-EIF Facility, a joint Federal Ministry for Eco-nomic Affairs and Energy of Germany (BMWi) and EIF initiative to support financing of SMEs and start-ups in Germany.
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