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Innovation Network "IT Security Club" at the House of IT Security in Karlsruhe, Germany

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What is the thinking behind the "IT Security Club" innovation network?

The IT Security Club is being launched as a special innovation network dedicated to supporting the R&D activities of its member companies from the IT security field. Its purpose is to bring together these companies as partners in a tech-oriented network to develop and realize innovative products, processes, or technical services in the field of IT security. The innovation network is intended to facilitate or, indeed, enable cross-company R&D activities in the first place. For this purpose, a professional innovation manager will be hired to support the network partners in securing R&D funding.

Innovation networks of this nature are eligible for public funding, i.e. they can apply for subsidies from relevant funding agencies. In order to keep the financial expenditure of the network partners to a minimum, the innovation network is being set up within the framework of the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) to co-finance the work of an independent management structure or network manager.

What are the prerequisites for ZIM funding support?

ZIM-funded innovation networks need to include at least six separate small to medium-sized enterprises that are operating from or based in Germany. Other partners (e.g. research organizations, university institutes, larger companies, or other members, such as associations) are welcome to join as additional members.

Who would be a suitable network partner?

SMEs and startups that have sufficient revenues to finance their own share of R&D projects (usually around 50% of the total budget). The main focus of the R&D activities should be on IT security in all its many forms or related topics.

What services can I expect?

The IT Security Club’s network management will provide professional innovation management services. Together with the network partners, the network manager will initiate R&D projects in the field of IT security and provide support with drafting project briefs or applying for funding support. Innovation workshops will be held to generate and refine ideas and concepts to become concrete project proposals. The network manager will also support the network partners in communicating with funding agencies and project sponsors as well as in project controlling, including progress monitoring and reporting.

What financial investment should I expect?

In order to keep the financial investment of network members to a minimum, the innovation network plans to apply for funding from the ZIM Central Innovation Program for SMEs. The annual fees will be around €4,000 for tenants of the IT Security Club. For companies that are not tenants of the IT Security Club, the annual contribution will be around €5,000. This is a minimal contribution, considering that SMEs can expect around €150,000 in grants for a funded project.

These favorable conditions represent de-minimis aid that is allocated proportionally to the participating companies.

Do I have to be a tenant in the IT Security Club to join the innovation network?

No. However, tenants receive discounted conditions.

How can my SME benefit from being part of the innovation network?

The innovation network brings a number of benefits for its network partners, including the following highlights:

  • Experienced and professional network and innovation management at very favorable conditions.
  • Access to joint R&D projects to boost the innovation capacities of the network partners
  • Financial risks for R&D projects are greatly reduced by submitting R&D applications to appropriate project sponsors
  • Collaboration with cooperation partners is facilitated, as is the usually time-consuming search for suitable partners
  • Network partners benefit from greater visibility and a stronger presence even outside of their native region, as the network’s activities will be publicized on a national or even European level and shared expo and trade fair activities can be supported.

When will the innovation network officially start?

As soon as at least six separate eligible SMEs have declared their willingness to participate, the application will be submitted to the Central Innovation Program for SMEs. We expect a period of three to four months from that point to the official launch of the network.