Subsidies for the digitalization

Decentralized and time-independent working has come into focus in the wake of the Corona pandemic. Anyone who invests in digitized work processes and structures makes their company fit for the future. To reduce the financial burden, there are attractive subsidies for the digitization of companies. We provide information on programs, requirements, funding levels and application details.

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Who is entitled on a promotion?

Subsidies for digitization are predominantly targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The benchmarks are the number of employees, sales and the annual balance sheet. As a rule, full-time employees are included in the workforce. The delimitation is based on the SME thresholds of the European Commission and defines eligibility for funding as follows:

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What investments
are promoted?

Subsidies are available for various digital projects. These include the following investments:

  • Support by IT specialists and external consultants
  • Further training of employees
  • Provision of computing resources such as cloud platforms
  • App development
  • Creation and updating of online stores and websites

What subsidies are available it for digitization?

You can choose from regional as well as national and European funding. The programs support you with grants or loans.

Nationwide Subsidies

At the federal level, there are several government grants for digitization. These are awarded by the following agencies:

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For small and medium-sized enterprises, the BMWK (formerly BMWi) has developed the support programs „Digital Now“, „go-digital“ as well as „go-inno“ was launched. Depending on the program, for example, consulting services for digital networking, digital technologies and the corresponding training of employees are eligible for funding.

Within the framework of the program, BAFA awards „Promotion of entrepreneurial know-how“ Grants for business consultations. It also supports companies in the construction, modernization, restructuring and equipping classrooms or workshops with grants. This enables the „Support for digital equipment in inter-company vocational training centers (ÜBS) and competence centers“.

KfW supports companies for investments in the areas of digitalization and innovation. They benefit from low-interest loans.

Support program „Digital Now“ (BMWK)

The BMWK supports SMEs in investing in digital technologies and qualifying their employees. This includes investment in hardware and software, especially for internal and external networking (funding module 1). Funding module 2 is intended for investments in employee qualification.

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The program addresses companies from all industries with 3 to 499 employees.

A subsidy of up to 40% is possible. It depends on the investment costs of the company. In addition, the subsidy rate is graded according to the size of the company.

The grant is subject to the following conditions:

  • Companies must present a digitization plan.
  • Investment projects are made for a branch or operating facility in Germany.
  • The project is to be implemented only after the approval and within twelve months.

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection accepts the application.

Support program „go-inno“ (BMWK)

This is an innovation voucher that makes it easier for small companies to afford external consulting services for digitization projects. The consulting helps with the development of innovative products and processes.

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The program is aimed at companies with fewer than 100 employees.

The innovation voucher covers up to 50% of the costs.

The following requirements must be met:

  • The company headquarters is located in Germany and
  • the annual turnover must not exceed € 20 million.

Applications are submitted to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.

Promotion of entrepreneurial know-how (BAFA)

The "Promotion of Entrepreneurial Know-How" runs until the end of 2022. Companies receive a grant for business consultations. The consultations cover economic, financial, personnel and organizational issues relating to business management.

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The program is aimed at small to medium-sized start-ups as well as existing companies. Companies in economic difficulties are also eligible for support.

The subsidy rate is up to 80% in the new federal states and up to 50% in the old federal states, up to a certain ceiling.

The company must meet the EU SME definition for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The application is submitted to the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control.

Promotion of digital equipment in inter-company vocational training centers (ÜBS) and competence centers

With this program, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) is promoting the digital equipment of inter-company vocational training centers. The program is designed to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with digital know-how. Companies can submit applications to BAFA until June 30, 2025.

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The funding is directed at sponsors of vocational training centers or state guild associations and trade associations if they conduct inter-company vocational training.

The program covers up to 90% of eligible costs.

The digitization project is intended for continuing education and training. The training center must have an occupancy rate of 75%. Justified exceptions are possible. In addition, the funding measures must be clearly distinguishable from other expenses.

The application is submitted to the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control.

ERP Digitization and Innovation loan (KfW)

KfW promotes investments in the areas of innovation and digitalization and offers a loan with an effective interest rate of 0.04% per year. The financing variant with release from liability is no longer available.

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The ERP Digitization Loan supports medium-sized companies, young start-ups and freelancers.

The funding amount is between €25,000 and €25 million.

The company must have its registered office or branches, subsidiaries, permanent establishments or affiliates in Germany.

You send the application to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.

ERP mezzanine for Innovations (KfW)

This KfW program promotes the development of new products, services and processes.

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The funding is aimed at companies and freelancers that have already been on the market for at least two years.

The funding amounts to up to € 5 million. KfW can assume up to 60% of the risk through subordinated capital.

Companies must have their registered office or branches, operating facilities or subsidiaries have their registered office in Germany. Group sales must not exceed €500 million. Trust structures, share deals or debt rescheduling as well as follow-up financing are excluded.

You can submit the application to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.

Subsidies of the States

The funding programs of the federal states can change quickly or funding pots can be exhausted. Companies should therefore find out early on what grants are available for digitization projects in their state.

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EU-Funding Programs

One of the goals of EU funding programs is to strengthen European competitiveness in the course of digitization.

Support program „Digital Europe“

The Digital Europe program supports companies in the digital transformation and aims to actively advance topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and high-performance computing.

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The European funding program is aimed primarily at small and medium-sized enterprises, but also at public administration within the EU.

The funding amount is up to €5 million. The program runs until 2027 and has a total budget of €7.59 billion.

Investments must be made within the various DIGITAL work programs.

Companies can submit the application via the „Funding and Tenders Portal“ put

Support program „Eurostars“

The "Eurostars" funding program supports cooperation between SMEs in research and development projects throughout Europe.

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The funding program is aimed in particular at innovative SMEs that are developing a product, process or service within an international framework. Research institutes can also benefit from funding if a German SME is involved in the project.

Up to 50% of eligible costs can be covered by this program up to a certain ceiling.

Companies must meet the following requirements to receive the grant:

  • at least two independent project partners and two participating countries are involved
  • the project partners are legal entities
  • SMEs bear at least 50% of the project costs
  • maximum project duration is three years
  • Market launch must take place two years after project completion
  • the project does not receive any other funding

In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research allocates the funds.

Support program „Horizon Europe“

"Horizon Europe" is a program to promote research and innovation. Among other things, it supports digitization measures by small and medium-sized enterprises based in the EU.

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The funding is aimed in particular at participants who want to bring innovative products, services or processes in the field of digitization to market maturity.

That depends on the individual call for proposals. The total funding budget in the "Digitization, Industry and Space" cluster alone is around €15 billion.

Research and innovation activities should involve at least three legal entities (natural and legal persons), each located in a different state. One of them must be based in an EU member state. However, the requirements may vary depending on the work program.

Applications are also submitted electronically via the "Funding and Tenders Portal". All calls for proposals can also be found here.

Promoting digitization: Opportunities for the future

Digitization offers economic opportunities for many companies. Thanks to the wide range of funding programs, you can implement digital projects without being exposed to too heavy a financial burden. By driving digitization forward in your company, you can expand your company`s potential and ensure its competitiveness.

Your guide:
for business solutions and digital tools such as cloud storage.