The project analyses the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for research and innovation in Germany. On the one hand, it estimates the contribution of SMEs in quantitative terms, including expenditure for research and innovation, receipt of public funding for R&D and innovation, and economic returns from innovative efforts. On the other hand, qualitative elements will be considered, e.g. the innovative ambition of SME’s innovation activities, collaboration with public science, incentives and obstacles for innovation, and the role of innovation for corporate development and international competitiveness. The study will provide both, conclusions on the importance of SMEs for research and innovation within Germany, and an international comparison on the role of SMEs in Germany and other economies.

A special feature of this study is the attempt to distinguish SMEs by their intention to grow. We will differentiate between growth-oriented SMEs and non-growing SMEs. Empirical analysis will focus on the former. A further separation will be made by the role of family businesses. The project addresses six research topics:

  • Identification of SMEs with the intention and the potential to grow;
  • Contribution of SMEs to research and innovation;
  • Organisation of innovation in SMEs;
  • Framework conditions and obstacles for innovation in SMEs
  • Public support for innovation in SMEs
  • Contribution of innovation to firm performance and competitiveness of SMEs

Selected Publications