Photo Credit: AiF | FVV
In order to give companies access to applied research at a precompetitive stage, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is currently providing around 169 million euros for outstanding research projects and networking between predominantly medium-sized companies and research institutions within the framework of Industrial Collective Research (IGF). Since many valuable project ideas nonetheless do not receive funding, the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) and its member associations are doing their utmost to raise the awareness of the members of the German Bundestag for the growth of funds. Over the next few years, the funding volume is expected to rise to at least 200 million euros per year and in the medium term to up to 300 million euros.
Dr Christian Jung, Member of the German Bundestag for the Karlsruhe region, visiting IAVF Antriebstechnik
"Every two to three kilometers you will find a medium-sized world market leader in and around Karlsruhe," said Dr Christian Jung (FDP) who represents the Karlsruhe region in the German Bundestag. Together with representatives of the AiF and the FVV, he visited IAVF Antriebstechnik GmbH on 17 September 2019, a member company of the FVV, and was informed about the effectiveness and success of the Industrial Collective Research (IGF) programme in the company founded in 1980 by employees of the University of Karlsruhe and the former Nuclear Research Centre.
Oil-fired propulsion systems on large cruise ships emit large quantities of polluting particles. Air conditioning systems in passenger cars urgently need environmentally neutral refrigerants. Matters we need solutions for. The medium-sized company IAVF Antriebstechnik GmbH works among other things on the continuous optimisation of combustion, hybrid or battery electric powertrains. Its customers include manufacturers of engines for hand-held equipment, passenger cars and commercial vehicles, as well as developers of engines for motor racing, large mining machines, marine engines and power generators.
The Karlsruhe-based company provides its expertise in the development of such prime movers, in particular with regard to wear, friction losses and emissions.
Since 2008, the APL Group, to which IAVF GmbH belongs, has invested 84 million euros in the site.
Dietmar Goericke, Managing Director of the FVV and the Mechanical Engineering Research Federation (VDMA Forschungskuratorium Maschinenbau), organised the visit together with Andrea Weißig, Managing Director for Research Policy at the AiF.
"For many German medium-sized companies, R&D secures their existence and is an integral part of product innovation," emphasised Goericke. "Today, however, we face new challenges: The classic industry boundaries are dissolving - keyword digitalisation. That wasn't on the radar five or six years ago. SMEs need system know-how, for example on questions of processes. The IGF networks help here across the entire value chain with cross-sector innovation impulses from research and the constant transfer of knowledge from IGF projects"
Currently, 169 million euros are available for the IGF for 2019. More than 500 new projects can be approved each year and a total of more than 1,700 ongoing projects can be supported. "The need is however clearly higher, and therefore we hope for a significant fund increase for the IGF starting from the financial year 2020 , stressed Andrea Weißig.
"The funding of pre-competitive industrial collective research projects by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has had a lasting impact on the research culture of our company and made a significant contribution to expanding the company's portfolio," explained Dr Bernhard Kehrwald, Managing Director of IAVF Antriebstechnik GmbH. The company is currently involved in four FVV IGF research projects together with other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Large marine engines with significantly lower emissions
The four research projects are concerned, among other things, with the effective reduction of ash and soot particle emissions from large marine engines. So far there are no technical solutions for effective filtering. The IGF project is to investigate the applicability of open-pore filters. The results will form the basis for the industrial production of ship diesel particulate filters. The first products are expected in three to five years after the end of the project. The other three ventures are also dealing with compliance with emission limits for cars and other motor vehicles.
A bridge between basic research and economic application
Promising project ideas from companies are proposed to the research associations which are members of the AiF (Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen / German Federation of Industrial Research Associations). A jury of experts will assess, among other things, whether a proposed project shows innovation potential for the entire industry. Research organisations work on the funded projects in cooperation with a project user committee from industry, in which SMEs in particular must be represented. This committee acts as a steering and advisory body for the project and at the same time ensures the transfer of results. A total of 20,000 company participations were recorded in the 1,600 ongoing IGF projects.
The main characteristic of the IGF is the cooperation of companies in pre-competitive research: the research results of the projects are equally accessible to all participating companies and parties. They must not lead to one-sided competitive advantages for individual project partners. Access to practice-oriented research results strengthens the technological performance of SMEs and promotes technological development in the economic sectors and technology fields involved. In addition, the IGF programme encourages the long-term cooperation between research institutions and companies in industry-wide or cross-industry networks.
The special funding variant CORNET networks research activities on an international level through transnational project cooperation. The Research Alliance on the Transformation of the Energy System (Forschungsallianz Energiewende - FAE) enhances the research capabilities of the IGF in relation to projects closely related to the energy transition.
Caption (from left to right):
Dietmar Goericke (Managing Director FVV/FKM), Dr Bernhard Kehrwald (Managing Director IAVF), Dr Peter Berlet (Team Leader Engine Testing IAVF), MdB Dr Christian Jung (FDP), Andrea Weißig (Managing Director AiF Research Policy)
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