Helmholtz Validation Fund
Aim of the funding
The Helmholtz Validation Fund (HVF), which is financed by funds from the Helmholtz President’s Initiative and Networking Fund, aims to bridge gaps between scientific findings and their commercial applications, and between public research and private investment. In creating the Validation Fund, the Helmholtz Association wants to minimise gaps in financing and ease the transition from idea to application.
The financial support offered by HVF aims to help scientists at Helmholtz Centres to develop their research findings to the point where they achieve added or commercial value. It is often the case that research lacks validation – some kind of evidence that its findings are of interest to those in industry. This might be proof of general applications, a suitable production process or a pre-clinical test.
Funding grants awarded by the HVF generally total between €250,000 and €1 million per year – projects may also receive less than the minimum amount when this is justified. As the funding is co-financed by the Helmholtz Centres and industry partners, projects may receive up to €2 million each year. Given a funding period of 2 years, the maximum possible amount of funding is €4 million. The HVF has funds totalling €20 million, which it will award between 2011 and 2015. The funding is paid out to the relevant Helmholtz Centre in instalments upon completion of project milestones. As well as personnel and material costs directly related to the project, the funding may also be used to finance contracts to third parties. The funding is paid out as a fixed sum and may be repayable under certain conditions. In this case, the recipient is only obliged to repay the amount awarded by the Helmholtz Validation Fund. Due to the precedence of the German Employee Invention Act, the repayment option holds no disadvantages for the inventor.
Managing the projects
As well as receiving financial support, the selected validation projects are also provided with management expertise. This aims to convey managerial tools and skills and to promote team-building processes. Experienced industry experts and project managers support projects through a mentor scheme. These internal and external mentors help the validation project to reach certain milestones in the project and confirm its progress. Reaching these milestones is a prerequisite for receiving the funds, which are generally paid out in instalments every three to six months. If a project fails to meet a milestone, this may result in an immediate end to funding as it could show the project is not viable in the long term.
Validation projects from Helmholtz Centres are selected in a two-stage application process. This is a competition spanning all areas of research, and projects are selected solely on the basis of their market potential. Preliminary and full applications are evaluated by independent assessors and selected by external experts on a decision-making board. Preliminary and full applications should only be five and 20 pages long respectively, and may be submitted at any time. There are no application deadlines. No later than eight weeks after submitting a preliminary application, the applicant will receive an answer either stating that the application has been rejected or calling for a full application to be submitted. When submitting a full application, applicants should complete the relevant application form and include a project proposal of no more than 20 pages detailing important milestones and a budget plan. The full application should be submitted with written confirmation from the management board of the relevant Helmholtz Centre that it supports the application and that it is prepared to contribute its share of the funding. Download application forms, the call to tender, application guidelines, and a flyer here (in German).
- Dr.-Ing. Jörn Krupa
- Head of Department Transfer and Innovation
- Geschäftsstelle Berlin
- +49 30 206329-72