Berlin Are you tearing down your grandfather’s house and sending the rubble to the landfill? Still others might still use discarded windows, old wooden floorboards, or bricks. Concular from Stuttgart helps in identifying valuable building materials and arranges contact with potential buyers. “Reuse instead of waste” is the motto – especially now during the construction boom.
Concular is an example of a “non-technical innovation” that may have beneficial effects. So far, however, such innovations have come through the proverbial rust in most state funding programs. To counter this, the Federal Ministry of Economy has launched a program that has been promoting business model innovation and pioneering solutions (IGP) since 2019. During the pandemic, the volume was increased from EUR 25 million to EUR 35 million.
The preliminary assessment of the entire program of the Ministry of Economy is positive: the economic effect cannot yet be estimated, but the program “closes the gap in the German financing landscape” and should be consolidated, according to a report available to Handelsblatt. Other countries, such as Austria and France, are much more advanced here.
Since 2019, a total of 1,780 companies have applied, mainly from the sectors of modern services, such as the ICT sector, creative industries and digital education. Three-quarters had fewer than ten employees. 280 was eventually funded. This “rather low acceptance rate” indicates successful mobilization and high target group funding for non-technical innovation.
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Without the program, experts say many would receive little or no support in the open market. The vast majority expect sustainable sales, as well as positive effects beyond a single company for entire market segments.
The Ministry of Economy confirms itself
Another example of innovation is provided by Dresden-based Quatropus: it is developing “Quatrolingo”, a digital system that mediates language services directly between customers and service providers. The program includes interpreters for court hearings, document or website translators, as well as foreign language teachers for companies and individuals.
Finally, “Vila Health” from Berlin is working on a professional offer of psychological support and assistance for people with chronic diseases, supported by the app. “We want everyone who lives with a chronic disease to have the opportunity to easily and early receive accompanying emotional and psychological support – and to do so wisely, digitally and with compassion,” says company founder Laura Korcik.
According to Peter Altmaier (CDU), the recently presented concept of social innovation also shows the importance of innovation beyond the well-known technical routes that have long been promoted by the Minister of Economy’s ZIM program. The program aims to innovate in the field of education and access to information.
To this end, nine departments have joined together under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Research. ZIM (Zentrale Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand) is a financing program for medium-sized companies and research institutions that develop new products, technical services or improved production processes.
In particular, the High Technology Forum – a group of business and science representatives that advises the federal government on the implementation of its ‘High Technology 2025 Strategy’ – and the Expert Committee on Research and Innovation (EFI) insisted on over-faculty coordination. The latter also recommended paying more attention to social innovation. In 2020, the Bundestag also asked the federal government to develop an inter-ministerial concept for promoting social innovation.
More: The federal government’s advisor on innovation calls on the Ministry of Digitization