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FAQ: Knowledge transfer projects

The following answers to frequently asked questions about knowledge transfer projects are intended to help applicants prepare their proposals. They explain individual points in the DFG’s guidelines and other programme information.

Which scientific results can be used for transfer projects?

Knowledge transfer projects must be based on the results of DFG-funded basic research projects. The concrete preliminary work is to be set out in detail in the proposal.

When can proposals be submitted for transfer projects?

Proposals can be submitted for knowledge transfer projects at any time.

Under the funding programmes Individual Grants, Priority Programmes and Research Units, they must follow on directly from the predecessor project. Proposals can be submitted during the term of the predecessor project or after its completion. As a rule, the previous project should not have been completed more than 24 months previously.

Under the funding programmes Collaborative Research Centres and CRC/Transregios, proposals for knowledge transfer projects must be submitted during the term of the overall project in question; it is even possible to do so at the same time as the establishment proposal is submitted. After the term of these funding programmes has ended, proposals for knowledge transfer projects can also be submitted under the Individual Grants programme.

Who can apply for transfer projects?

The general rules for proposal eligibility apply here as under the respective DFG funding procedures. Personnel continuity should be ensured through the grant recipient or one of the funded staff members so as to secure the expertise acquired and the rights of exploitation to the results from the preceding basic research project, especially in relation to individual projects.

What is funding available for?

The categories of funds to be applied for correspond to the funding programme under which the proposal is submitted. In connection with a knowledge transfer project, only the scientific partners receive funding from the DFG.

Note: Application partners can supplement their contribution with third-party funding (e.g. from foundations, business development agencies or similar) if necessary. This must be stated in the proposal. In this case, please consult the contact person at the DFG Head Office responsible for knowledge transfer projects before submitting a proposal.

Who can be an application partner?

Any business enterprise or institution in the non-commercial sector (non-profit institution under private law or in the public sector) can be an application partner. This also includes application partners based abroad.

The expectation is that application partners will be the end users of the project results. As such, transfer agencies or transfer companies at research institutions are not eligible as application partners in connection with knowledge transfer funding.

As a rule, research institutions that are eligible to apply to the DFG should not be involved in a knowledge transfer project as application partners.

What is the contribution of the application partner?

Knowledge transfer projects are collaborative projects to which both the scientific partner and the application partner contribute. The contribution of the application partner documents the importance of the expected results for the application side. For this reason, participation is expected that adequately reflects this importance.

The core of a knowledge transfer project is the collaborative work programme pursued jointly by all partners. In order for the reviewers to be able to assess whether the application partner’s own contribution will be sufficient, in particular in terms of expertise and personnel, this must be set out in the work programme. The work programme must stipulate how much time (e.g. in person-months) will be spent by the application partner’s named staff on the individual work packages and what tasks will be performed by them. The contribution in terms of expertise/staff can also be supplemented with direct project funding or instrumentation funds.

Note: Application partners can supplement their contribution with third-party funding (e.g. from foundations, business development agencies or similar) if necessary. This must be stated in the proposal. In this case, please consult the contact person at the DFG Head Office responsible for knowledge transfer projects before submitting a proposal.

Is it possible to have multiple application partners involved in the same project?

Yes, if this is necessary in order to pursue the knowledge transfer project. In the case of several cooperation partners, all participants should, if possible, conclude only one joint cooperation agreement so that the rights and obligations are identical and transparent for all parties, for example, and no additional agreements are necessary for reasons of confidentiality or in consideration of other partners’ rights to the project outcomes.

Is field research suitable for a knowledge transfer project?

Projects that have the character of model projects or are designed as field research and therefore tend to focus on scientific investigation are usually not suitable as knowledge transfer projects because the active involvement of the application partner cannot be plausibly demonstrated. This would be the case where a project involves testing concepts or conducting studies at schools, for example. This type of work can usually be carried out as part of a basic research project.

Can public relations work be funded as a knowledge transfer project?

Projects that are solely concerned with public relations work cannot be funded as knowledge transfer projects. However, it is now possible to apply for funding to cover public relations work as part of proposals for both Individual Grants and Collaborative Research Centres (cf. Interner LinkDFG form 52.07).

Why do I need a cooperation agreement?

A cooperation agreement establishes the contribution of the cooperation partners, the reporting obligation and the publication and usage rights. It forms part of the proposal under the knowledge transfer funding programme. A cooperation agreement that has been agreed and signed with the DFG is a prerequisite for submitting a proposal. For this purpose, the DFG provides one model cooperation agreement each for commercial application partners and application partners in the non-commercial sector (DFG forms 41.026 and 41.026 a). Deviations from this model cooperation agreement must be agreed on with the DFG.

How application-oriented can knowledge transfer projects be?

Work on a knowledge transfer project is limited to the pre-competitive area. In connection with a knowledge transfer project, development is possible at most up to the “prototype” or exemplary application stage, or as a concept for practical application.

Can knowledge transfer projects be renewed?

Knowledge transfer projects should not be planned to be renewed. Renewals are only possible in exceptional cases. Please get in touch with your contact person at the DFG Head Office for details.

Can I “take” my knowledge transfer project with me when I move to another HEI or research institution?

Yes, as a rule this is possible, providing employees at the new institution are generally eligible to apply to the DFG. It should be noted here that the cooperation agreement is concluded between the application partner and the previous HEI or research institution. For this reason, project funds for a knowledge transfer project can only be reallocated if a supplement or addendum to the existing cooperation agreement is submitted regulating the rights and obligations between the previous and new HEI or research institution and the application partner.

We will be happy to provide you with draft agreements to this effect on request.

What happens if one of the partners ends the project prematurely?

In such an event, please inform us immediately so that we can explore the remaining options with you.

Who is my contact person?

For general questions on the funding of knowledge transfer projects, please contact: