INSTI Project (Germany)


The INSTI Project was established in 1995 by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), with the aim to create an ingenuous environment for inventors and innovations in Germany and to improve the transfer of research and development results into marketable products.The Project, which was initially supposed to have a five year timeframe, has been extended with no definite timelimit. The Project is managed by the 'Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft' (IW) and funded by the BMBF.

The main objective of the project is to increase the use of patent system and scientific-technical databases, so as to avoid wasteful investments or duplication of efforts in which two or more companies may be working on the same product. Furthermore, by encouraging the use of the patent system the project aims at enabling enterprises to enhance the legal protection of their products and processes, which would ultimately translate into an increased ability of enterprises to establish themselves in new markets, acquiring a competitive edge in founding new enterprises etc.

In ensuring that the project offers a wide range of services the INSTI project established a nation-wide network of INSTI partners. These include patent attorneys, regional patent information centers, information brokers, business consultants and technology transfer centers. INSTI partners can be contacted by SMEs, inventors and scientist for assistance on

  • Patent information or training in using patent databases,
  • Information about the patent system, trademarks, cost of patents and the possibilities of using legal protection for new products,
  • Practical aspects of innovations e.g. how to use creative techniques or how to manage innovation
  • Launching new products nationally or internationally or establishing new business contacts
  • Exchange of experience
  • Financing, licensing or acquiring services of a renowned patent attorney.

The INSTI project has six special support programs of which the following ones are relevant to SME.

The INSTI SME Patent Action.

The Program was established in September 25, 1996. The program focuses specifically on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The main objective of this program is to provide financial assistance to SMEs wishing to undertake necessary steps toward patenting their inventions. The program offers financial support to SMEs which apply for the first time for a patent or utility models or have not filed for one within the last five years prior to application.

Areas of which the BMBF offers financial assistance are

  • Searches for "the state of the art" with respect to developments in technical fields;
  • Undertaking a cost/benefit analysis of patenting the product or technique;
  • Cost of a patent attorney and the German Patent Office's administrative fees;
  • Preparation for the exploitation of the patent or utility model;
  • Cost of a patent attorney and administrative fees to file for a patent abroad; and
  • Cost for the preparation and an enquiry about necessary certifications.

Under the program, an SME can receive grants of 50 % of the external costs, up to a maximum of DM 15,000 (by 01.01.02 8.000 ), disbursed as follows:

  • Section 1: max. DM 1.500 (by 01.01.02/800 €) for searches on the state of the art
  • Section 2: max. DM 1.500 (by 01.01.02/800 €) for undertaking a cost/benefit analysis
  • Section 3: max. DM 4.000 (by 01.01.02/2.100 €) for a German patent application
  • Section 4: max. DM 1.500 (by 01.01.02/800 €) for preparations of exploitation
  • Section 5: max. DM 5.000 (by 01.01.02/2.700 €) for foreign patent application and
  • Section 6: max. DM 1.500 (by 01.01.02 800 €) for the preparation and an enquiry about necessary certifications.

In the event that a SME does not utilize the maximum grant awarded for a certain section, the remaining sum can be used for another section for about half of the possible grant if in this section the grant reached its maximum.

Eligible for this program are SMEs of the manufacturing trade and agriculture including craft businesses and founders registered and producing in Germany. Recipients of grants must themselves shoulder the remaining external expenditure and the internal outlay.

As of June 2001, 2340 SMEs have applied for a fund (26,6 % are founders of an enterprise). Many small sized businesses have participated in this program. 52,6 % of the applicants have up to three employees. Of the SMEs that were granted a fund, 91,6 % have filed for a German patent application.


The program aims at assisting companies in establishing business contacts worldwide in the field of technology transfer and innovation. The program, which had earlier existed as a joint venture of important European banks and information providers, was integrated in the INSTI Project in 1995. The Program currently has more than 41,700 documents in which interested parties can search for information (

SMEs together with other business entities can take advantage of the project by using the program's on-line database on new technologies, products and product ideas, agencies cooperation, services and investments offered and requested. Such activity can provide SMEs with useful information on opportunities available in exploiting their patents, licensing and cooperation. INSTI partners provide help to SMEs or other interested parties with difficulties in the formulation of offers or requests and feeding the information in the INSTI InnovationMarket (

INSTI Innovation Training

The program has been established with a long-term objective of increasing innovation activity in Germany through enhancing the awareness of inventors and the business community in the field of innovation in particular innovation management, creativity techniques, industrial property rights and systematic information management. The program therefore provides the following training modules,

  • Strategic management (strategic innovation management)
  • Finding new ideas for products, services and process (creativity and evaluation techniques)
  • Legal protection for new products (industrial property rights, information from patent databases)
  • Development of products and processes in enterprises (teamwork and communication, successful internal structures, personal working techniques)

SMEs are widely considered as playing a leading role in innovation activities worldwide. The program therefore, provides a good opportunity to SMEs in Germany to understand more the advantages of intellectual property protection for their innovation activities.

For more information on the INSTI Program please contact

Mr. Thomas Einsporn
August 2001