Consulting spotlight

Short consulting sessions à la Steinbeis

Free advice for SMEs

The Steinbeis Foundation helps small and medium-sized enterprises gain access to technology and science expertise through free short consulting sessions. These sessions are organized by Steinbeis Beratungszentren GmbH, which puts companies in touch with experts throughout the Steinbeis network and provides detailed advice and information on new products, technologies and processes.

Requests for a short consulting session can be submitted by companies, representatives of various chambers, L-Bank, economic development institutions, and managing directors of Steinbeis Enterprises, in each case specifying what the session should address. All forms required can be found online. Short consulting sessions must meet the following criteria:

  • The organization’s head office must be in Baden-Württemberg
  • Annual revenue (last financial year) cannot exceed € 100 million
  • Only one session per year
  • Applications, decisions and approvals are managed by Steinbeis 

Systematic success

Financing innovations

Few companies make proper use of the funding options open to them. The extent of the problem is most apparent in the financing of innovations. Just under 10% of all companies exploit all of the potential funding available to them.

Helmut Haimerl, director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Technology Promotion & Project Financing, recommends the following approach for systematic funding management. The first step is a meeting to discuss the projects in question and the company’s situation. Then comes the analysis phase, where ideas and plans are evaluated and suitable funding programs can be selected. At this point different ways to structure financing need to be considered. With highly innovative projects, it may be worth considering several sources of funding. Preliminary talks with project sponsors or the bank help clarify priorities and avoid going around in circles. The options are then assessed together with all key parties. The decision typically revolves around the size of grants, or the bank’s or project sponsor’s schedule. It is important that all parties understand what is needed to submit requests and are committed to going ahead with the project.

It is also important to systematically capture all data needed for the funding program. At this stage, it is also important to find suitable partners and come to certain agreements. Any new demands from the project sponsor need to be met, and, once funding is approved, requests need preparing along with proofs of utilization and reports.

The process can be long-winded, but the benefits more than make up for it:

  • Innovation grants covering up to 50% of development costs
  • Investment grants covering up to 50% of costs for SMEs
  • Low-interest loans, subsidized subordinated loans.

Funding helps companies exploit market potential systematically and enhances their growth potential.

Funding renewable energy

Seminar program

The third revision of Germany’s Renewable Energies Act (EEG) came into effect on January 1st, 2012. With it come a variety of changes for companies, such as the introduction of a market premium for the direct selling of electricity generated from renewable sources. The aim of the premium is to encourage greater use of storage technology and flexible generation to match market needs.

These amendments have been added to the seminar program “Funding Renewable Energy”, run by the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Corporate Finance. The seminars can be held in-house or attended at associations and selected universities.

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