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ERDF 2014-2020



In the 2014-2020 programming period, Bremen and Bremerhaven are to receive a total of € 103 million out of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) from the European Commission. The overriding objectives of Bremen’s ERDF programme in this period are:

  • to foster the development of a competitive economy based on knowledge and innovation which conserves resources and viable jobs which provide a living for women and men,
  • to make greater use of the regional potential to combat climate change, and
  • to strengthen social and spatial cohesion in the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven

in order to promote smart, sustainable and integrational development in the State of Bremen. With a view to achieving this, the State of Bremen has evolved a programme consisting of four thematic priorities, or “priority axes”:


Strengthening a specialised, business-oriented innovation system

This axis aims to initiate innovations and research projects in the State of Bremen. Research, development and innovation are important factors for the growth and competitiveness of companies in the region. For this reason, more than half of the new ERDF funding is going towards this priority axis.

Specific objective 1: Boosting research and innovation capacities in close-to-market research and innovation facilities with reference to the priorities of the RIS

Part of the funding is allocated for establishing and expanding close-to-market research facilities in the state. The main focus will be on fields in which the State of Bremen has particular strengths and expertise, e.g. aerospace or wind power. Funding will go towards the enlargement of the facilities’ buildings and to new appliances and technologies, groups of researchers and special services.

Who can apply?

  • Close-to-market research facilities
  • Companies cooperating on research and innovation

Specific objective 2: Boosting the R&D and innovative capabilities of companies in Bremen

Most of the funding in this axis is provided for research, development and innovation projects in which companies from the State of Bremen – in cooperation with other companies or research establishments – develop and bring to market specific new products, processes or services. Such projects tend to be risky, and in many cases companies can only cope with them if they have financial backing and work together with experts from the research community. A special focus here is placed on projects in environmental technology and research.

Who can apply?

  • Companies of all sizes and cooperative ventures between different businesses (mainly SMEs)
  • Higher education institutions, research establishments and research societies
  • Business promotion organisations and institutionalised networks/clusters


Diversification and modernisation of the economic structure

The SME axis is intended to initiate investment projects in small and medium-sized enterprises and to boost the number of start-ups in the State of Bremen.

Specific objective 3: Boosting the investment activities of SMEs

Promoting corporate investment

If small and medium-sized enterprises are to be able to grow, purchase new machinery, introduce more efficient production processes and thus safeguard and create jobs, they need to be able to invest. Small and young companies in particular, which lack collateral and equity, often encounter difficulties when trying to obtain bank loans for such investment. In order to close this liquidity gap and to enable more investment projects to be carried out, the ERDF supports the investment loans of the State of Bremen via the SME axis.

Who can apply?

  • Small enterprises
  • Medium-sized enterprises

ERDF microloans

Furthermore, funding is going towards microloans for micro and small enterprises, new start-ups, professional service providers and cooperatives. As the name suggests, this is about micro projects which, due to their small size, often cannot obtain funding on the credit market.

Who can apply?

  • Micro and small enterprises
  • New start-ups
  • Freelancers
  • Cooperatives

Specific objective 4: Boosting start-up activities

Advisory and training services for new start-up projects

Another objective of the SME axis is to boost the level of start-up activity in the State of Bremen. To this end, various support services for those wishing to start up in business in the State of Bremen are being combined and further optimised in 2015 with a view to establishing BEGIN, an even more effective advisory network.

Who can apply?

Anyone wishing to start up a business

Promotion of innovative start-ups

One focus of the new programming period is on particularly innovative start-up ideas which the ERDF supports with specific consultancy and coaching services under the “BRUT” programme.

Who can apply?

  • Students
  • Doctoral students
  • Academic assistants
  • Graduates
  • Young professionals
  • Innovative master craftsmen


Promoting carbon-efficient business and urban structures

Combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions in the State of Bremen is the third important theme of the ERDF programme in the State of Bremen.

Specific objective 5: Cutting carbon emissions in the commercial sector

On the one hand, the ERDF is concentrating on conservation and energy efficiency potential in companies in the State of Bremen. Funding is going towards information and consultancy services in order to pinpoint potential energy savings in companies and to provide information about specific efficiency measures. Building on this, the ERDF also funds very specific investment projects in the companies, e.g. for energy-saving machinery and process technology, more resource-friendly building and plant technology, more efficient and renewable-based energy generation, the use of renewable energy, and thermal insulation of the building envelope.

Who can apply?

  • Companies, factories, skilled craft enterprises, professional service providers and others engaged in commercial activities
  • Climate initiatives and consultancies
  • Public bodies (e.g. authorities, Bremer Aufbau-Bank)

Specific objective 6: Cutting carbon emissions in certain urban areas

On the other hand, the ERDF funding in this axis can be used to promote the drafting and implementation of climate change mitigation concepts focused on specific urban areas in the State of Bremen and viewing the various fields of action in the overall context. In this way, the potential savings offered by energy efficiency and climate change mitigation projects for improving the energy performance of buildings, for energy supply and distribution, but also on the issues of urban spatial design, infrastructure, mobility and logistics can thus be viewed in terms of their spatial interactions, making it possible to improve the interaction of the projects.


Stabilisation of disadvantaged urban areas via integrated development approaches

Finally, in the fourth priority axis, the ERDF promotes integrated urban development in the two urban districts of Bremen-Gröpelingen and Bremerhaven-Lehe. Both neighbourhoods are particularly severely affected by the repercussions of structural change and by poverty, exclusion and low employment and educational opportunities. On the other hand, Gröpelingen and Lehe have an especially important function as driving forces for integration in the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven.

Specific objective 7: Stabilising disadvantaged social areas and their local economies

Against this background, the prime objective of the ERDF is to promote projects which invest in education and employment and thus help to stabilise the local economy. In the context of a coordinated package of measures, funding is going towards urban renewal measures, neighbourhood initiatives, local support centres and educational structures, as well as advisory measures for the neighbourhood economy.

Who can apply?

  • Local small and micro enterprises
  • Neighbourhood initiatives and neighbourhood management
  • Neighbourhood residents
  • Authorities and societies


Overall, it can be seen that, over the next few years, the ERDF programme of the State of Bremen aims to provide an important stimulus towards promoting innovation, employment and the spirit of entrepreneurship in the region, to foster climate change mitigation, and to improve the prospects for those living in particularly disadvantaged neighbourhoods to participate.

Further information: programme structure overview (pdf, 130.5 KB)