As a member of the German Bundestag of the parliamentary group of the Free Democrats, Gerald Ullrich visited us yesterday afternoon to get to know the CiS Research Institute and its competences in industrial research as well as development of silicon-based microsensors along the entire value chain. He also gained an impression of current R&D priorities as well as industry-related research in Thuringia and the associated funding policy challenges.
Industry-related research institutes are an important building block for the competitiveness of SMEs, not only in Thuringia. They transform the results of basic research into innovations that can be quickly put into practice and marketed. To ensure the innovative strength and associated competitiveness of business-related research institutes, which do not receive basic funding, constant investment in the technical infrastructure and the employment of highly qualified researchers is necessary.
In the conversation with Gerald Ullrich, the management of the CiS Research Institute asked for the current stop of applications for ZIM funding projects at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) to be questioned. Thereby already conceived and initiated R&D projects with Thuringian SMEs are on hold, which in turn leads to an innovation backlog in the SME sector. The very successful funding guideline “R&D funding of non-profit external industrial research institutions – innovation competence (INNO-KOM)” is also causing concern, as it expires at the end of 2022 and to date, despite a positive evaluation of the program in 2020/21 and a draft of an improved guideline with regard to funding rates and funding levels, has not yet found a renewed resolution in the Bundestag. We asked Gerald Ullrich to also advocate the relaunch of the INNO-KOM guideline and thus make this existentially important financing instrument available again for business-oriented research institutions and their innovation-driving collaboration with SMEs.
In the competition for the best minds, it is also important to achieve equal treatment with other scientific organizations. To this end, the application of the Freedom of Science Act to business-related research institutes was discussed.
Finally, Gerald Ullrich was able to convince himself of the efficiency of the CiS research institute during a tour of the rooms of the CiS Analytics Competence Center (CAK). Last summer, the heart of the CAK was inaugurated by Thuringia’s Minister of Economics, Wolfgang Tiefensee, in a ceremonial act. A high-resolution 3-dimensional secondary ion mass spectrometry system (SIMS Analysis Cluster) is available to both research institutions and industrial customers after investments of around 2 million euros from ERDF and state funds to further expand and consolidate their competitive position in innovative material and product developments.