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Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Housing offers free concept checks to SMEs and startups

Do you run a business or are you a researcher? Looking for funding or a partner for an innovative product, service, or a new business model? If you are, the free innocheck-bw initiative offered by the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg may be just what you’re looking for. Offered by experts at the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum and Steinbeis 2i GmbH, the aim of “innochecks” is to allow SMEs and startups to find the right EU funding program.

The initiative focuses on offering encouragement and support to enterprises and startups in Baden-Wuerttemberg in accessing funding. It was set up by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Housing with the support of the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum and includes a website (www.innocheck-bw.de) to allow firms and startups/scale-ups to check the viability of their innovative concepts by completing a questionnaire. Companies are then given recommendations and useful tips tailored to their requirements. The website also provides important pointers regarding suitable national and European funding instruments, relevant links to further sources of information, and contacts to other experts offering advice on innovation initiatives.

The European Union has introduced a body called the European Innovation Council (EIC), whose aim is to encourage more companies within Europe to innovate and be willing to take risks – and thus stand firm in a market increasingly shaped by emerging technology. The EIC should ensure that scientific findings in Europe result in the setting up of new companies and that these can companies be “scaled up” more quickly, also on a broader basis. Two funding options are available for the pilot phase of the program: Pathfinder and Accelerator.

Together, they manage a budget of more than €1 billion for the last two years of the Horizon 2020 program (2019-2020). A further initiative offering funding is the Fast Track to Innovation program.


Pathfinder offers funding for radically new research, potential market innovations based on disruptive technology concepts, and technologies of the future. Up to €4 million of financing is available per project (technology readiness level (TLR) 2 to 4). Support is given during the early phases of scientific and technological research and development, including the proof of concept phase involving prototypes. The aim is to help companies validate technology and assess its market viability. Pathfinder is open to all kinds of innovators, universities, research institutions, and business enterprises, but especially startups and SMEs. Projects must involve three partner organizations from three different member states or associated countries.


The Accelerator instrument promotes the commercialization of highly innovative projects of TRL 6 or higher, offering a total of €2.5 million plus mixed financing (private equity) of up to €15 million per project. This makes it possible to offer startups and SMEs seed financing to support development and innovations to the point where ideas may be of interest to private investors. Funding enables companies and startups to scale up, especially if their projects are unlikely to attract the interest of banks. Under the Accelerator, one-off grants are available to cover market introduction costs.


Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) provides funding for groundbreaking technological or service-related innovations based on interdisciplinary or trans-sectoral principles (TRL 6), especially market-centric products, processes, services, and business models. Funding ranges from €1 to 3 million per project (60% of overall budgets go to industry). The FTI program is targeted at SMEs, larger companies, universities, and research institutions. Between three and five of the project partners should be from member states or associated countries.

The support measures receive financial backing through the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Housing.



  • May 13, 2020
  • June 23, 2020


  • May 19, 2020
  • October 7, 2020

Fast Track to Innovation:

  • June 9, 2020
  • October 27, 2020


Dr. Annette Hurst (author)
Senior Project Manager for energy technologies and innovation management
Steinbeis 2i GmbH (Stuttgart)

Concept checks: www.innocheck-bw.de