Which applications of machine learning have not yet been researched


19 March 2019

With the Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy, the Federal Government has created a framework for the further development and application of AI in Germany in order to secure Germany as a research location, to expand the competitiveness of the German economy and to increase the wide range of possible uses of AI in all areas of society To promote noticeable social progress and in the interest of the citizens.

Tremendous advances have been made in the field of AI in recent years. The current advances in AI, especially in the area of ​​machine learning (ML), are based on the exponential growth in the performance of hardware and its use for processing mostly large amounts of data. With the "Guideline for the Funding of Research Projects for the Automated Analysis of Data Using Machine Learning", the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been funding research projects since 2018 with the aim of significantly increasing the broad applicability of AI methods and procedures. The main challenge at the moment is the transfer of AI methods into practice. Industrial applications of machine learning provide the instruments and tools to efficiently process data from industry and interpret it for the benefit of companies and their customers. Existing practical requirements such as reliability or questions of liability make the use of model-based decision-making processes of AI necessary, the development of which, however, has not yet kept pace with the development of ML methods. Nevertheless, ML and AI in general are crucial core components and thus essential drivers of digitization, their practical use therefore requires new research efforts.

In addition to university and institutional research, industrial, application-oriented research plays an important role in the successful transfer of AI applications across the economy. This is precisely the point at which this announcement begins.

With the announcement of the guideline for the funding of projects on the subject of "Application of Artificial Intelligence Methods in Practice", the BMBF will fund projects that aim to transfer innovative research results from the field of artificial intelligence into practice. With the funding of joint projects, cooperation and exchange between science and industry are to be strengthened and thus intensified to the benefit of both sides in order to secure and further expand Germany's leading position in the field of AI.

The funding measure is part of the implementation of the Federal Government's AI strategy and the high-tech strategy 2025.

1 Funding objective, funding purpose, legal basis

1.1 Funding objective and purpose of funding

With this guideline, the BMBF will support projects that aim at the innovative application of artificial intelligence methods in practice. With the funding of joint projects, the transfer between science and industry is to be strengthened to the benefit of both parties.

The applications to be developed must show the added value of the AI ​​processes compared to established processes, while ensuring self-determination, social and cultural participation and the protection of the privacy of citizens. Furthermore, the funded projects should enable the participating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) not only to use AI applications, but also to understand them, develop them further and incorporate them into their business processes.

The new development and adaptation of basic components used exclusively in-house is generally not the subject of funding. Furthermore, no projects should be funded that aim at the use of AI in medicine, for HR applications, marketing or customer care, IT security, predictive maintenance or robotic systems for care, as corresponding notices have already been published for these applications were.

The results of the funded project may only be used in the Federal Republic of Germany or the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

1.2 Legal bases

The federal government grants the grants in accordance with this funding guideline, §§ 23 and 44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO) and the related administrative regulations as well as the "Guidelines for grant applications on the basis of expenditure (AZA)" and / or the "Guidelines for grant applications on the basis of costs (AZK ) "Of the BMBF. There is no entitlement to the grant. Rather, the granting authority decides on the basis of its dutiful discretion within the framework of the available budget.

According to this funding guideline, state aid is granted on the basis of Article 25 (2) of Regulation (EU) No. 651/2014 of the EU Commission of June 17, 2014 to determine the compatibility of certain groups of aid with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ("General Block Exemption Regulation" - GBER, OJ L 187 of June 26, 2014, p. 1, in the version of Regulation (EU) 2017/1084 of June 14, 2017, OJ L 156 of June 20, 2017, p. 1). Funding takes place in compliance with the common provisions set out in Chapter I GBER, in particular taking into account the definitions in Article 2 of the ordinance (cf. the annex to the provisions on state aid for the funding guidelines).

2 Subject of funding

The subject of the funding is the prototypical, software-driven implementation of current research results from the field of AI in practice. The solutions should primarily be related to production and distribution processes or innovative services, but not to purely internal optimization aspects. The solutions to be developed should be easily transferable and applicable in different domains. They should also be designed in such a way that they support the people involved in the process and promote or increase their decision-making competence. It is essential to take into account European and German data protection guidelines. The new or further development of hardware is not the subject of this announcement.

As part of the announcement, the BMBF will exclusively support joint projects of partners from science and industry in an interdisciplinary composition that demonstrate outstanding excellence in the field of AI and in the application domain and can transfer current research results into innovative applications.

The priority target group of the announcement are SMEs that are to be supported by partners from science in the development and application of AI methods and tools. Interdisciplinary cooperation in science between computer science and other disciplines is expressly desired in order to enable and implement holistic solutions.

The funding measure supports innovative research and development projects (R&D projects) that transfer current research results into practice and that relate to one or more of the following topics:

  • Computer vision / image understanding;
  • digital assistants, computational linguistics and automated contextual information processing;
  • efficient and robust algorithms for problem solving and decision making;

and which are to be implemented in one or more of the following domains:

  • Renewable energies, ecology and environmental protection;
  • Logistics & mobility;
  • Production Technologies & Process Control;
  • Innovative user-oriented services.

Projects with a focus on other topics or application domains are possible in justified exceptions. The restrictions mentioned in number 1.1 apply.

3 beneficiaries

Alliances of one or more SMEs and partners from science (universities or non-university research institutions) as priority users of the project results are eligible to apply. For the purposes of this announcement, SMEs are companies that meet the requirements of the EU's SME definition (see Annex I of the GBER or the recommendation of the Commission of 6 May 2003 regarding the definition of micro-enterprises as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, announced under File number K (2003) 1422 (2003/361 / EG)): http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DE/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32003H0361&from=DE

As a grant recipient, an SME declares its classification in accordance with Annex I of the GBER or the Commission's SME recommendation as part of the written application to the granting authority.

In addition to the above-mentioned network partners, companies that do not meet the SME criteria, associations and other organizations with an interest in R&D are also eligible to apply in the context of joint projects, insofar as they are required in the role of technology suppliers or testing users. An appropriate contribution is required from companies that do not meet the SME criteria (see number 5).

At the time of the payment of a granted grant, the existence of a permanent establishment or branch (company) or another institution that serves the activity of the grant recipient (university, non-university research institutions and other institutions that provide research contributions) is required in Germany.

Research institutions that are funded by the federal government, the federal states or the federal government and the federal states can only be granted project funding for their additional project-related expenses or costs under certain conditions, in addition to their institutional funding.

For the conditions of when state aid is or is not available and to what extent aid-free funding can be provided, see Commission communication on the Union framework for state aid for research, development and innovation (R & D & I) of 27 June 2014 (OJ. C 198 of June 27, 2014, p. 1); in particular number 2.

4 Special funding requirements

The prerequisite for funding is the cooperation of several independent partners to solve joint research tasks (joint projects) that significantly exceed the state of the art. The R&D aspects mentioned in number 2 should be recognizable as focal points in the projects.

The projects should be company-driven and initiate lasting innovation processes in the company and should not exceed a duration of two years if possible.

The partners of a joint project regulate their cooperation in a written cooperation agreement. Network partners who are research institutions within the meaning of Article 2 (number 83) GBER ensure that no indirect (indirect) aid is granted to companies within the framework of the network. To this end, the provisions of number 2.2 of the Commission communication on the Union framework for state aid for the promotion of research, development and innovation (OJ C 198, 27.6.2014, p. 1) must be observed. Before the funding decision on a joint project, a basic agreement on further criteria specified by the BMBF must be proven (see BMBF form no. 0110)1.

Applicants must show willingness to collaborate on an interdisciplinary basis with other funded associations and initiatives in this area. It is expected that in the pre-competitive area and while maintaining their business secrets, they will actively help to shape an intensive exchange of experiences across companies and work on measures of the BMBF with a high public profile (e.g. BMBF conferences, trade fair appearances, innovation platforms).

Applicants should continue to familiarize themselves - also in their own interest - with the EU framework program for research and innovation in the context of the planned national project. They are supposed to check whether the proposed project has specific European components and thus whether exclusive EU funding is possible. Furthermore, it must be checked to what extent an additional funding application can be submitted to the EU in the context of the planned national project. The result of the tests should be presented briefly in the national funding application.

5 Type, scope and amount of the donation

The grants are granted by way of project funding.

Assessment basis for grants to companies in the commercial sector and for projects by research institutions that are in the field of economic activities2 are the eligible project-related costs. As a rule, these can - depending on the application of the project - be financed up to 50%, taking into account the requirements under state aid law (see attachment). According to BMBF principles, an appropriate personal contribution - in principle at least 50% of the eligible costs incurred - is required.

The assessment basis for grants to universities, research and scientific institutions and comparable institutions that do not fall under the scope of economic activities are the eligible project-related expenses (for Helmholtz Centers and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the eligible project-related costs), which, taking into account the legal aid Individual requirements can be funded up to 100%.

For non-economic research projects at universities and university clinics, a project lump sum of 20% is granted in addition to the eligible expenses.

The GBER must be taken into account to determine the respective eligible costs / expenses and to measure the respective funding quota (see annex).

General information on eligible expenses and costs can be found in the guidelines for grant applications on an expenditure basis (AZA) and the guidelines for grant applications on a cost basis (AZK) as well as in the leaflet Precalculation for grants on a cost basis (AZK 4). All documents can be found in the BMBF form cabinet at: https://foerderportal.bund.de/easy/easy_index.php?wahl=easy_formulare&formular closet=bmbf

In principle, the usual basic equipment of the participating institutions is not taken over or subsidized.

It is expected that commercial companies that do not meet the SME criteria will participate appropriately according to their capabilities, provided that they participate as network partners. As a rule, a personal contribution of at least 65% is considered appropriate.

6 Other grant provisions

The “Ancillary provisions for cost-based grants of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to commercial companies for research and development projects” (NKBF 2017) are part of a cost-based grant notification.

The "Ancillary provisions for grants based on expenditure of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for Project Funding" (NABF) as well as the "Special ancillary provisions for the retrieval of grants in the indirect retrieval procedure in the business area of ​​the BMBF" (BNBest-indirect retrieval- BMBF), provided that the funding is made available in the so-called retrieval process.

The "General ancillary provisions for grants for project funding to regional authorities and associations of regional authorities" (ANBest-Gk) and the "Special ancillary provisions for grants from the BMBF for project funding on an expenditure basis" (BNBest-BMBF 98) as well as the "Special Ancillary provisions for the retrieval of grants in the indirect retrieval process in the business area of ​​the BMBF "(BNBest-indirect retrieval-BMBF), provided that the grant funds are made available in the so-called retrieval process.

In order to carry out success controls within the meaning of administrative regulation number 11a to § 44 BHO, the grant recipients are obliged to provide the BMBF or the institutions commissioned with the data necessary for success control in a timely manner. The information is used exclusively in the context of accompanying research and any subsequent evaluation, treated confidentially and published anonymously in such a way that it is not possible to draw any conclusions about individual persons or organizations.

If the grant recipient publishes the results of the research project as a contribution in a scientific journal, this should be done in such a way that the public can access the contribution electronically free of charge (open access). This can be done by publishing the article in an electronic journal that is accessible to the public free of charge.If the contribution does not initially appear in a journal that is electronically accessible to the public free of charge, the contribution should be made electronically available to the public free of charge (secondary publication) - if necessary after a reasonable period (embargo period) has expired. In the case of secondary publication, the embargo period should not exceed twelve months. The BMBF expressly welcomes the open access secondary publication of scientific monographs resulting from the project.

7 procedures

7.1 Involvement of a project sponsor, application documents, other documents and use of the electronic application system

The BMBF has commissioned its project sponsor to handle the funding measure:

German Aerospace Center V.
DLR project sponsor
Society, innovation, technology
Software systems and knowledge technologies (PT-SW)
Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 2
10178 Berlin

Contact Person:
Dr.-Ing. Matthias Burgfried
Telephone: 0 30/6 70 55-79 37
Fax: 0 30/6 70 55-7 42
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Ulrike Völlinger
Telephone: 0 30/6 70 55-6 86
Fax: 0 30/6 70 55-7 42
Email: [email protected]
Internet: https://www.softwaresysteme.pt-dlr.de/de/kuenstliche-intellektiven.php

More information is available there.

If there are any changes, this will be announced in the Federal Gazette or in another suitable manner.

Forms for funding applications, guidelines, leaflets, notes and ancillary provisions can be called up at the following Internet address https://foerderportal.bund.de/easy/easy_index.php?wahl=easy_formulare&formularkammer=bmbf or requested directly from the project management agency. The electronic application system "easy-Online" must be used to create formal funding applications (https://foerderportal.bund.de/easyonline).

7.2 Two-stage application process

The application process is designed in two stages.

7.2.1 Submission and selection of project outlines

In the first stage of the procedure are the commissioned project management agency by June 3, 2019 at the latest first to submit project sketches in written and electronic form. In the case of collaborative projects, the project outlines are to be submitted by the designated collaborative coordinator in coordination with the project partners. The submission deadline is not considered a deadline, but project outlines that are received after the time specified above may no longer be considered.

The project partners, represented by the submitter / project coordinator, submit a joint, appraisable project outline of a maximum of ten A4 pages (1.5 line spacing, Arial writing, size at least 11 pt) to the project sponsor and via the PT outline Online portal. Project outlines must have a concrete reference to the criteria of this announcement and contain all essential statements for assessment and evaluation.

A convincing scientific justification and a utilization concept must be submitted for the planned R&D work.

The project outlines should briefly describe the following:

  • Cover sheet with project name, postal address, telephone and e-mail of the sender as well as information on total costs, funding requirements and duration3;
  • Motivation, initial question and goals of the planned project;
  • State of the art and research, own preparatory work, consideration of ongoing national and international research work;
  • Description of one's own solution; Rough work and time planning with balances in time and person months; Cooperation partners and work plan with work packages from all partners involved;
  • Concepts for the recovery of the solution.

In addition to creating the technical project outline, the PT outline project sheet must be printed out. Complete documents for mailing to the commissioned project management agency consist of:

  • the project sheet from PT outline with signature and stamp as well
  • an original of the technical project outline.

The complete project outline can be submitted in electronic form via the PT-Outline Internet portal at https://ptoutline.eu/app/KI01. It is recommended to contact the commissioned project sponsor directly before submitting the project outline.

The project outlines received are evaluated, if necessary with the participation of external experts, according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation and scientific excellence of the approach / the proposed solution under the given technical and economic constraints;
  • Feasibility of the approach for the specified time horizon and with the specified quantity structure;
  • Relevance of the proposed solution for scientific and industrial applications;
  • Competence profile and own preliminary work.

The submitters are in competition with each other. The project ideas suitable for funding are selected according to the criteria and evaluation given above. The applicant / project coordinator will be informed of the selection result in writing.

The project outline submitted as part of this procedural stage and any other documents submitted will not be returned.

7.2.2 Submission of formal funding applications and decision-making procedures

In the second stage of the process, the authors of the positively assessed project outlines are asked to submit a formal application for funding.

A complete application for funding is only available if at least the requirements according to Article 6 Paragraph 2 GBER (see annex) are met.

The use of the electronic application system "easy-Online" (taking into account the requirements stated in the annex) is required to prepare the formal funding applications (https://foerderportal.bund.de/easyonline/).

In the case of joint projects, funding applications must be submitted in coordination with the planned joint coordinator.

With the formal funding applications, the following information must be submitted in addition to the project outline:

  • detailed financing plan of the project;
  • detailed exploitation plan;
  • Presentation of the necessity of the care;
  • detailed work plan with start and end date of the planned project work including project-related resource planning and milestone planning;
  • Any requirements from the first stage must be taken into account.

The applications received are evaluated and checked according to the following criteria:

  • Eligibility of the funds applied for;
  • Necessity and appropriateness of the requested funds;
  • Comprehensibility of the explanations of the financing plan;
  • Quality and informative value of the exploitation plan, also with regard to the funding policy objectives of this funding measure;
  • Implementation of any requirements from the first stage and compliance with the financial framework recommended there for funding.

In accordance with the criteria and evaluation given above, a decision on funding will be made after the final application review.

7.3 Regulations to be observed

Sections 48 to 49a of the Administrative Procedure Act, Sections 23, 44 BHO and the General administrative regulations issued for this purpose, unless deviations from the general administrative regulations have been permitted in these funding guidelines. The Federal Audit Office is entitled to audit in accordance with Section 91 BHO.

8 period of validity

The term of this funding guideline is limited to the expiry of its state aid basis, the GBER plus an adjustment period of six months, i.e. until June 30, 2021. Should the application of the GBER be extended without any relevant changes to the content of the subsidy scheme, the term of this funding guideline will be extended accordingly, but not beyond September 30, 2023. If the GBER is not extended and replaced by a new GBER, or if relevant changes to the content of the current GBER are made, a follow-up funding guideline corresponding to the exemption provisions then applicable will come into force until at least September 30, 2023.

Berlin, March 19, 2019

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

On behalf
Ute Bernhardt


The following state aid requirements apply to this funding guideline:

1 General funding requirements

The lawfulness of the aid is only given if, in accordance with Article 3 GBER, all the requirements of Chapter I GBER and the requirements of Chapter III applicable to the specific group of aid are met, and that, in accordance with the case law of the European courts, the national courts are obliged are to order the repayment of unlawful aid.

With the application for funding within the framework of this funding guideline, the applicant undertakes to cooperate in compliance with the requirements of state aid law. For example, the information and documents requested by the donor must be submitted or submitted as proof of creditworthiness and compliance with state aid law. In addition, the applicant must participate in any proceedings (with) the European Commission and comply with all requirements of the Commission.

A prerequisite for the granting of state aid within the framework of an aid scheme exempted on the basis of the GBER is that it has an incentive effect according to Article 6 GBER: Aid is considered to be aid with an incentive effect if the beneficiary of the aid submits a written aid application before the start of work on the project or activity in the Member State concerned. The grant application must contain at least the following information: name and size of the company, description of the project with details of the start and completion date, location of the project, the costs of the project, type of aid (e.g. grant, loan, guarantee, repayable Advance or capital injection) and the amount of public funding required for the project.

State aid based on the GBER will not be granted if there is a reason for exclusion according to Article 1 Paragraphs 2 to 5 GBER; This applies in particular if the company has not complied with a recovery order due to an earlier decision by the Commission to determine the inadmissibility of aid and its incompatibility with the internal market or the company is a "company in difficulty" (as defined in Article 2 (18) GBER) is.

In accordance with European law, each individual aid over 500,000 euros is published on a special website (see Article 9 GBER).

Funding received can be checked in individual cases by the European Commission in accordance with Article 12 GBER.

Within the framework of this funding guideline, state aid is granted in the form of grants in accordance with Article 5 Paragraph 1 and 2 GBER.

The GBER limits the granting of state aid for economic activities in the following areas to the following maximum amounts:

  • Projects that mainly concern basic research: 40 million euros per company and project; this is the case if more than half of the project's eligible costs are incurred as a result of basic research activities; (Article 4 paragraph 1 letter i point i GBER).
  • Projects that mainly relate to industrial research: 20 million euros per company and project; this is the case if more than half of the eligible costs of the project are incurred as a result of industrial research or industrial and basic research activities; (Article 4 (1) (i) (ii) GBER).
  • Projects that mainly relate to experimental development: 15 million euros per company and project; this is the case if more than half of the eligible costs of the project are incurred as a result of experimental development activities; (Article 4 (1) (i) (iii) GBER).

When checking whether these maximum amounts (registration thresholds) have been complied with, the cumulation rules according to Article 8 GBER must be observed. The maximum amounts must not be circumvented by artificially splitting up related projects. Partial approval up to the notification threshold for a notifiable aid is not permitted.

2 Scope / amount of the donations; Accumulation

The following provisions of the GBER apply to these funding guidelines, in particular with regard to eligible costs and aid intensities; The eligible costs and aid intensities listed below specify the maximum framework within which the granting of eligible costs and funding quotas for projects with economic activity can take place.

The funded part of the research project must be fully assigned to one or more of the following categories:

  • Basic research
  • industrial research
  • experimental development

(see Article 25 paragraph 2 GBER; terms according to Article 2 number 84 GBER).

For the classification of research work into the categories of basic research, industrial research and experimental development, please refer to the relevant reference in paragraph 75 and footnote 2 of the R & D & I Framework.

The eligible costs of the respective R&D project are to be assigned to the relevant R&D categories.

Eligible costs are:

  • Personnel costs: costs for researchers, technicians and other personnel, insofar as these are used for the project (Article 25 paragraph 3 letter a GBER),
  • Costs for instruments and equipment, insofar as and for as long as they are used for the project. If these instruments and equipment are not used for the project during their entire service life, only the impairment determined in accordance with the principles of proper accounting during the duration of the project is considered eligible (Article 25 (3) (b) GBER),
  • Costs for buildings and land, insofar and as long as they are used for the project. In the case of buildings, only the depreciation determined in accordance with the principles of proper bookkeeping during the duration of the project is considered to be eligible for aid. In the case of land, the costs of the economic transition or the capital costs actually incurred are eligible (Article 25 (3) (c) GBER),
  • Costs for contract research, knowledge and for patents acquired directly or under license from third parties in compliance with the arm's length principle, as well as costs for advice and equivalent services that are used exclusively for the project (Article 25 paragraph 3 letter d GBER),
  • additional overheads and other operating costs (including for material, supplies and the like) that arise directly from the project (Article 25 paragraph 3 letter e GBER).

The aid intensity per beneficiary within the framework of a subsidy in accordance with Article 25 paragraph 2 letters a to c may not exceed the following rates in accordance with Article 25 paragraph 5 GBER:

  • 100% of the eligible costs for basic research (Article 25 paragraph 5 letter a GBER),
  • 50% of the eligible costs for industrial research (Article 25 (5) (b) GBER),
  • 25% of the eligible costs for experimental development (Article 25 (5) (c) GBER).

The aid intensities for industrial research and experimental development can be increased to a maximum of 80% of the eligible costs as follows:

  • by 10 percentage points for medium-sized companies;
  • by 20 percentage points for small businesses;
  • by 15 percentage points if one of the following conditions is met:
    1. the project includes effective cooperation
      • between companies, at least one of which is an SME, or is carried out in at least two Member States or one Member State and a Contracting Party to the EEA Agreement, with no single company paying more than 70% of the eligible costs, or
      • between a company and one or more research and knowledge dissemination organizations, which bear at least 10% of the eligible costs and have the right to publish their own research results;
    2. the results of the project are widely disseminated through conferences, publications, open access repositories or through royalty-free software or open source software.

The eligible costs must be substantiated in accordance with Article 7 Paragraph 1 GBER by written documentation that must be clear, specific and up-to-date.

For the calculation of the aid intensity and the eligible costs, the amounts before deduction of taxes and other charges are used.

When complying with the maximum allowable aid intensity, the cumulation rules in Article 8 GBER must be observed:

The accumulation of several grants for the same eligible costs / expenses is only permitted under the following rules or exceptions:

If Union funds that are centrally managed by Union agencies and are not directly or indirectly under the control of the Member States and therefore do not constitute state aid are combined with state aid (including, among others, funds from the European Structural and Investment Funds) in determining whether the notification thresholds and maximum aid intensities or amounts have been complied with, only State aid shall be taken into account, provided that the total amount of public funds granted for the same eligible costs (including centrally managed Union funds) does not exceed the most favorable financing rate set out in the relevant provisions of Union law .

Aid exempted under the GBER, for which the eligible costs can be determined, can be cumulated with

  1. other State aid, provided that these measures concern different identifiable eligible costs;
  2. other State aid for the same eligible costs partially or fully overlapping each other, but only if this cumulation does not exceed the maximum aid intensity or amount applicable to such aid under this Regulation.

Aid for which the eligible costs cannot be determined may be cumulated with other State aid for which the eligible costs cannot be determined, up to the relevant upper limit for the total financing, which is applicable in the individual case is set out in the GBER or in a decision of the European Commission.

State aid exempted under the GBER may not be cumulated with de minimis aid for the same eligible costs if this cumulation exceeds the aid intensities or maximum aid amounts set out in Chapter III GBER.

1 - https://foerderportal.bund.de/easy/easy_index.php?wahl=easy_formulare, area BMBF General forms and templates for reports.
2 - For the definition of economic activity, see point 17 of the R & D & I Framework.
3 - The cover sheet does not count towards the ten pages.