Information on proposal submission

The aim of trilateral transfer projects is to facilitate the transfer of findings from DFG-funded basic research projects to commercial application partners. Here, Fraunhofer Institutes act as intermediaries between the HEI/university of applied sciences and the application by carrying out applied preliminary research while at the same time strengthening contacts with existing application specialists and initiating new such contacts, thereby enabling the research results to be commercially exploited via these partners. As with all knowledge transfer funding options offered by the DFG, the aim is also to generate fresh impetus for basic scientific research.

The requirement for submitting a proposal for a knowledge transfer project is that it builds on the results of a DFG-funded research project with TRL 4 status (technology validated in lab; see notes on TRL below).

The project consortium of a trilateral transfer project consists of the following:

  • an HEI partner at an HEI/university of applied sciences (HAW or FH)
  • a partner at a Fraunhofer Institute
  • an application partner

Graphic of Trilateral transfer projects - Application partner, Fraunhofer partner, HEI partner

Application partners can be industrial companies/commercial partners as well as partners in the public sector/non-commercial sector. The application partner must make an appropriate contribution of its own, primarily in the form of expertise and personnel. The application partner bears its own costs.

The core of a trilateral transfer project is a collaborative work programme pursued jointly by the project partners which sets out the concrete tasks assigned to the participants (including the relevant share of working hours). This is to show that all partners are making an appropriate contribution of their own, especially in the form of expertise and personnel.

As a project objective, the results from the DFG-funded basic research project are to be developed from TRL4 to TRL6-TRL7.

The project proposal must be accompanied by a cooperation agreement that includes, in particular, regulations on the handling of work results, rights of use and publication rights. A model agreement is available for this purpose.

Proposal Submission

Please note the instructions on how to submit a proposal for a trilateral transfer project.

The decision on the proposals is carried out in a two-stage process:

Stage 1: Draft Proposals

Draft proposals must be submitted to the DFG by 13 September 2023 and must be based on the template Draft Proposal DFG-Fraunhofer 2023/2024 (in German only).

Stage 2: Full Proposals

Full Proposals as well as the signed cooperation agreements must be submitted to the DFG by 13 March 2024 and must be based on the template Full Proposal DFG-Fraunhofer 2023/2024 (in German only).

Proposals for which the signed cooperation agreement is not submitted by the specified date cannot be considered in the further procedure.

Funding amount

The total funding amount by DFG and Fraunhofer each will not exceed EUR 3 million per call and will allow to grant five to eight trilateral transfer projects.


The maximum funding duration is three years. Renewal proposals may not be submitted.

Forms and Guidelines (in German only)

Project drafts and full proposals are submitted via DFG's elan portal (

General questions

Christiane Mohren