Funding criteria for international projects

International projects funded by the DBU are primarily carried out abroad and partners in these countries must be substantially involved.

The following formal requirements apply for international projects:

  • In general, the applicant must provide an own contribution (amounting to 50% of the total costs) (see FAQs).
  • A German cooperation partner shall take the role as applicant (see FAQs).
  • We recommend that the persons involved in the project conclude bilateral cooperation agreements (see FAQs).
  • Proof of how the funding has been used must meet the requirements for external review. Documentation and invoices must be translated into German or English and, if necessary, converted into EUR using the conversion rate applicable on the date of invoice. Possible exchange rate fluctuations and transaction fees must be included in the calculation of costs during the application process.
  • Reports must be submitted periodically in German or English.

The following criteria are essential for an international project to be eligible for funding and must be exemplified in the application for funding: 

  • Environmental relief and ecological sustainability;
  • Exemplary nature of the project;
  • Innovation;
  • An innovation can be at the company/organisation level, at the regional/state level, in a specific market or industry, or in the global market;
  • Different kinds of innovations are eligible for funding. Applicants must define which kind of innovation they are striving for (social innovation, technological innovation, product innovation, process innovation, service innovation, business model innovation, organisational innovation, etc.);
  • Constellation of actors (German partners, partners on location, etc. – how does this constellation help the project to achieve its aims?);
  • Benefits at the project location;
  • As a rule, the DBU Funding Guidelines must be observed.


Depending on the project, important additional criteria may also play a role in the assessment of the project proposal. Information on the following points is requested, if possible:

  • Sustainable impact of the project after the project has been completed;
  • Participative structure/elements, diversity, equality involvement of the partners in Germany and in the respective foreign country;
  • Knowledge of the country/region and the language spoken there as well as the intercultural competence of the applicant;
  • Educational aspects (basic, advanced training and skills development), capacity building;
  • Relevance to SMEs (involvement of German SMEs and/or funding of small or medium-sized enterprises in the country in question);
  • Perspectives for added value;
  • Categorisation of the project impact in a sustainability context, e.g. UN SDGs, sustainable regional development, etc.