Digitalization funding programs for SMEs in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Digitalisierung Datenstrom

Are you looking for a digital solution tailored to your company's needs to streamline your operations or explore new business opportunities? Driving your business forward is significant but can come with added expenses.

At Valudio , we can offer guidance on available investment incentives to support your digital transformation efforts.

Keeping up with changes can take time and effort. Digitalisation is a change that affects every sector of the economy. Recognizing it as an opportunity and acting within your company can be pivotal in securing long-term success and staying competitive. To facilitate the adoption of digitalization by businesses, funding initiatives are in place to help provide financial assistance. This approach makes it feasible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to embark on digital projects.

 What digitalization measures are supported? 

The Federal Republic of Germany has recently acknowledged the significance of aiding small and medium-sized enterprises as they navigate their path into the digital era. Consequently, numerous digitalization funding initiatives have been introduced to offer financial assistance to companies looking to invest in digital technologies and enhance the skills of their workforce.

The spectrum of available funding is wide-ranging, tailored to various criteria and the specific requirements of companies. This encompasses investments in both hardware and software and employee training and development provisions.

Examples of promoted digitalization measures:

  1. IT security: Investments in secure IT infrastructures and data protection measures.
  2. Digitized business processes: Introduction of ERP and CRM systems, automation of workflows and introduction of digital interfaces.
  3. E-commerce: Establishment or optimization of online shops, introduction of digital payment systems and investment in online marketing strategies.
  4. Digital market development: Development of digital business models, platforms, and apps.
  5. Qualification and further training: Training courses for employees on digital skills, software use or IT security.
  6. Networking and collaboration: Investment in technologies, collaboration tools, cloud systems and digital platforms for exchanges with customers and partners.

Digitization funding initiatives provide financial backing and frequently include advisory services aimed at simplifying the digitalization journey for companies. Consequently, it is beneficial for every company to explore the available funding options and actively leverage the opportunities presented by digitalization.

An overview of Digitalisierungsprämie, Digital Bonus, Digital Zuschuss and other funding programs

Digital Jetzt- Investment support for SMEs

The Digital Jetzt funding program, administered by the Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection), is tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This initiative provides financial support for investments in digital technologies and employee training related to digital topics.

Digital Jetzt funding is accessible to all SMEs across various sectors, including trades and liberal professions, and must meet the following criteria:

  • Located in Germany
  • Employ between 3 and 499 individuals
  • The funds can be allocated for purposes such as software/hardware acquisition and staff development, among other uses
  • The potential funding amount (grant) ranges from €3,000.00 to €100,000.00, with maximum coverage of 70% of the total investment

For more information, see the links below:

➝  Digital Jetzt funding portal

➝  Important questions and answers about funding with “Digital Jetzt”

go-digital - Funding made easy

Another investment funding program of the Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz is go-digital. Here, SMEs receive support in further developing their IT systems from authorized consulting firms by having them take over any formalities.

The funding program for digitalization is made up of five modules:

  • Digitalization strategy
  • IT security
  • Digitized business processes
  • Data competence
  • Digital market development

For more information on go-digital, see the link below:

➝  go-digital

ERP-Digitalisierungs - und Innovationskredit

The KfW Bank's ERP-Digitalisierungs- und Innovationskredit is designed to support the digitalization efforts of small and medium-sized enterprises, including tradespeople, startups, and freelancers. This funding, provided in the form of a loan, can be utilized for both investments and working capital related to digitalization and innovation projects that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Consulting services, hardware, and software, as well as the qualification of employees
  • The amount of possible funding, is between 25,000.00 and 25 million € (from 0.04% effective annual interest rate)
  • Without indemnity against liability

You can find all the essential information here:

➝  ERP-Digitalisierungs- und Innovationskredit from KfW Bank

ERP-Mezzanine für Innovation

Here we have another initiative by the KfW Bank aimed at digital advancement. The ERP-Mezzanine für Innovation finance package is designed for companies aiming to develop new products and procedures. A loan under this package can assist in funding investments and working capital, thus bringing enterprises up to the latest technical standards.

    • Eligible for up to 5 million Euros towards the creation of new products, methods, and services (starting at an effective annual rate of 0.24%) KfW can assume up to 60% of the risk through subordinated finance
    • Open to enterprises and independent professionals active for a minimum of two years and located in Germany or overseas entities with subsidiaries, branch offices, operational facilities, or storefronts in Germany

You can find all the essential details here:

➝  ERP-Mezzanine für Innovation finance package by KfW-Bank

Other Loans available since January 2022

The ERP-Förderkredit for SMEs and the KfW-Förderkredit for large SMEs.

➝  Promotional products for innovative projects | KfW

Funding programs for digitalization at the state level (Germany)

There are also several funding programmes for digitalization at the state level. Below, we have listed the most important ones in your federal state. The links will take you directly to the pages of the respective funding programmes.

Bavaria

Digitalbonus. Bayern Standard

Who? What? How much?
Companies with less than 50 employees and an annual turnover/balance sheet total of max. 10 million €.     Development, introduction, or improvement of products, services and processes through ICT hardware & ICT software, as well as the introduction or improvement of IT security (among others).     Up to 50% of the eligible expenditure/max. €10,000 

Digitalbonus.Bayern Plus*

Who? What? How much?
Companies with less than 50 employees and an annual turnover/balance sheet total of max. 10 million €.     Measures with a particular innovative content; a detailed description of the innovative content and the degree of novelty are required.     Up to 50% of the eligible expenditure/max. €50,000 

*The Digital Bonus Plus cannot be combined with the Digital Bonus Standard.

Start?Zuschuss!

Who? What? How much?
Technology-oriented companies with an innovative business model in digitization must have been founded no more than two years ago.     Personnel, rent, product launch, research & development.     Up to 50% of the eligible expenditure/max. €36,000 

Baden-Württemberg

Digitalisierungsprämie Plus – Zuschussvariante

Who? What? How much?
Medium-sized commercial companies with max. 500 employees and freelancers. Measures to digitize production, processes, products, and services; increase ICT security; hardware and software (as well as costs for related services and training).     Up to 35% of eligible expenses/max €4,000 

Berlin

Digitalprämie Berlin

Who? What? How much?
Berlin SMEs with a maximum of 249 employees and Berlin solo self-employed and freelancers (full-time) without salaried employees; founded before 31.12.2021.     Promotion of digital work and production processes; hardware and software to increase corporate IT security; training and advisory services.     Up to 50% of the eligible expenses/max. €17,000 

Berliner InvestitionsBONUS

Who? What? How much?
SMEs, large companies and solo self-employed and freelancers.     Investments to ensure the future viability of the company.     Up to 30% of the eligible expenditure/max. €200,000 

Bremen

Advice on digitalization and work 4.0

Who? What? How much?
SMEs in Bremen     Consultancy projects with selected and regional digitalization experts to identify potential digitalization measures.     Up to 50% of external eligible expenditure/max. €5,000 per project 

Hamburg

Founding an innovative start-up

(InnoFounder, InnoRampUp & InnoFinTech)

Funding program  Who? What? How much?
InnoFounder (Zuschuss) Founders, founding teams with max. three persons. Natural persons, incl. partnerships, provided they have not yet started their business activity or it has not existed for over a year, and legal entities that have existed as micro-enterprises for less than one year.     Innovative start-up projects; livelihoods of the founders and all expenses associated with the start-up project; start-up projects with a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)     Up to €75,000
InnoRampUp (Zuschuss) Technologically innovative start-ups in Hamburg that are no more than two years old.     Start-up ideas with realistic chances of economic success; innovative start-ups with a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; all costs associated with the start-up.     Up to 100% of eligible expenditure/max. €150,000
InnoFinTech (Zuschuss) Hamburg start-ups from areas such as FinTech and InsurTech that are under five years old.     Innovative business ideas with realistic chances of economic success; start-up & further development of innovative start-ups; all costs associated with the start-up.     Up to 90% of the eligible expenditure/max. €200,000 

Hessen

DIGI-Zuschuss

(only available until 6.10.2023)

Who? What? How much?
Hessian SMEs and freelancers     ICT hardware and software for digitalizing products, services & operational processes or implementing an ICT security solution; the services associated with the purchases and required training courses.     Up to 50% of the eligible expenditure/max. €10,000 

Promoting advice on digitalizing business processes, products and services

Who? What? How much?
Start-ups, SMEs, self-employed and freelancers Consulting services for digitalizing business processes, products, and services.     Up to 52% of the consultancy fee/max. €6,000 or €6,500 respectively 

North Rhine-Westphalia

PtJ: Mittelstand Innovative & Digital

(MID Digital Security, MID Vouchers & MID Assistant)

Funding program  Who? What? How much?
MID Digital Security SMEs in NRW     Measures to increase IT security and close potential security gaps.     Up to 80% (or 60 %) of the eligible expenses/max. €15,000
MID vouchers SMEs in NRW     External analysis, consulting, and implementation services, and development and implementation measures. Employment of newly recruited academics to implement concrete innovation or digitalization projects.     The maximum funding amount depends on the voucher and the company's size.
MID-Assistant/in Companies in NRW with a maximum of 50 employees, of which a maximum of five are academics.     Employment of new graduates for the implementation of concrete innovation or digitalization projects.     Wage costs of max. €45,000 or €30,000 annually 

Saxony-Anhalt

Digitizing (ib-sachsen-anhalt.de)

Here, Investitionsbank Sachsen-Anhalt presents specific funding and grants to support digitalization measures in various sectors. Detailed information can be found under the corresponding links on the overview page.

Thuringia

Digitalbonus Thuringia

Who? What? How much?
SMEs and business-related freelancers     Digitalization of operational processes; digitalization of products and services; introduction or improvement of information and data security solutions.     Up to 50% of the eligible expenditure/max. €15,000 

 Funding for Digitalization in Austria 

aws Digitalization

aws Digitalization is a digital funding program of the state-owned aws bank. It offers funding for digitalizing products, services, processes, and e-commerce activities. The grant has the following criteria:

    • It is aimed at SMEs as well as general contractors from a wide range of sectors
    • Company headquarters or a permanent establishment in Austria
    • It can amount to up to €500,000.00

For full details, see the link below:

➝   aws Digitalization

KMU.DIGITAL

The KMU.DIGITAL investment support program offers three distinct funding options: status and potential target analysis, strategic consulting, and implementation funding. These options are tailored to provide personalized assistance for your digitalization initiatives.

For more information, please visit their website:

➝   KMU.DIGITAL

Digitalization Support in Tyrol

The Tyrolean Digitalization Funding initiative encompasses the planning, execution, and, exclusively for large-scale projects, staff training related to digitalization endeavors. This program extends its support to:

      • Businesses in Tyrol that operate within the commercial sector or hold a valid trade license
      • Large enterprises as defined by EU state aid regulations (only for large-scale projects)

For further details, please visit the link below:

➝   Tyrolean digitalization support

 Swiss Investment Incentives 

Stiftung Finanzplatz Basel

The primary aim of this funding aid is to back projects, initiatives, and both initial and further training endeavors that enhance Basel as a financial and economic hub. Basel's location promotion is dedicated to assisting companies in enhancing their operational conditions.

For more information, please refer to the link below:

➝   Office of Economic and Labor Affairs of the Canton of Basel-Stadt

Innosuisse Guide

Presented by Innosuisse - the Swiss Agency for Innovation Promotion, this guide is designed to assist small and medium-sized enterprises. It offers personalized advice and explores potential financial support avenues. The guide will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you discover a funding solution tailored to your company's needs.

Look at the guide below:

➝   Innosuisse Guide

Final Thoughts: Advancing Digitalization with a Boost

Digitalization funding initiatives significantly assist SMEs in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland when implementing their IT projects.

While the funding landscape might initially appear intricate, the application processes are often straightforward, and the responsible agencies are accommodating.

Companies contemplating digitalization initiatives, whether it involves developing a new website, enhancing IT security, adopting innovative technologies, or upgrading production systems, can reap the benefits of these funding programs.

In many instances, these subsidies cover a substantial portion, if not more than half, of the associated expenses. Therefore, actively exploring and utilizing the various available offers can be a valuable step toward your progress.

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