Project funding

Environmental relief – innovation – model character

We promote solution-oriented projects to protect the environment. Relevant areas are environmental technology, research and communication as well as the protection of nature and cultural assets. For this, we offer 12 funding topics plus one open-topic funding. The focus is particularly on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Individual and cooperative projects are possible. In addition to projects in Germany, the DBU also funds international projects to a limited extent, so far primarily in the countries of Central and (South) Eastern Europe (CEE). Funding for international projects beyond CEE is possible in individual cases.

We provide competent and service-oriented advice. We are independent and neutral in terms of party politics. We offer result-oriented consulting by competent, interdisciplinary teams and help with the further qualification of the projects through our support of the applicants from the project outline to the realization. We support the communication of project results for particularly successful projects.

The path from your project idea to DBU funding

Project outlines and funding applications can be submitted at any time . In this regard, please refer to our application instructions. We prefer a 2-step application process:

  • Project outline: We recommend that you first submit a short project outline via our online portal for an initial assessment of your project idea (3-10 pages; content and outline: see application instructions). The innovative character and the concrete environmental relief are of particular importance for the evaluation of the project outlines. Further criteria are the model character and the practical relevance. If necessary, we will provide you with instructions on how to revise your project outline.
  • Funding application: If your project idea matches the funding purpose and the funding opportunities, the DBU will ask you to submit a complete funding application based on your project outline (guideline: 20 pages; content and structure: see application instructions). In the next section, you will find a summary of our notes and working aids for the application in this regard. The DBU may consult external experts for the evaluation of project applications; the experts consulted will be bound to confidentiality. If necessary, you will receive advice from us on how to revise your project application.

In principle, the following are not supported

  • Projects that serve the fulfillment of statutory compulsory tasks;
  • non-project-related applications from facilities and institutions (institutional funding);
  • Projects without implementation perspective;
  • pure investment projects;
  • projects that have already been started;
  • Projects for the market launch of developed products;
  • Projects involving only basic research;
  • Monitoring Environmental Impacts;
  • Studies without concrete implementation reference;
  • Increase funding from other funding sources;
  • pure printing cost and travel cost subsidies;
  • Projects that do not comply with EU state aid law.

Working aids for the application

We have summarized our application tools for you here. The detailed funding criteria can be found in our funding guidelines. As a rule, 50% of project costs can be funded for companies, GbR/BGB companies, associations, foundations, private individuals and other institutions; here, funding is provided on a cost basis (gross wages plus overhead surcharge, material costs, external services, travel costs). For universities, colleges, academies and institutions with basic state funding, up to 100% of the project expenses can be funded; here, funding is provided on an expenditure basis (personnel costs, material costs, external services, travel costs). The type and amount of funding is reviewed and determined individually in each case.

Instructions for funding on a cost basis – for companies, GbR/BGB companies, associations, societies, foundations, private individuals and other institutions

Guidance for grants on an expenditure basis – for universities, colleges, academies and public institutions with basic state funding.

The path from approval to project completion

Our approval letter will inform you of the funding conditions (eligibility requirements and grant conditions) that apply to your project. Please complete and return the form for acceptance of the grant and payment of the personal contribution to the DBU. Project management is carried out on two levels: technical and financial.

Financial: Subsidies

The payment of the first grant installment is made directly at the beginning of the project. Further disbursements will be made according to the progress of the project and after submission of your financial proofs of use. Please use the form proof of use (cost basis) or the form proof of use (expense basis). The final installment will not be made available until all documents required for technical and financial project completion have been submitted to the DBU and reviewed by both the Financial Project Controlling Unit and the Technical Unit. Explanations are provided in our information sheet on financial statements of use.

Technical: reporting requirements

The dates for your interim reports will be determined individually depending on the project and will be communicated to you in your grant letter. The final report is due no later than three months after project completion.

They also create a project fact sheet that serves as brief information about the grant project for interested parties. Here you have the opportunity to document the status of your project activities. After you have bindingly submitted text and image(s) and the responsible DBU department has approved your project identification sheet, it will be published on the DBU website. The procedure is also explained in an explanatory video.

Work aids for project management

We have summarized our project management tools for you here.

Public relations for your project results

We like to consider particularly successful projects in our public relations work – in the DBU newsletter, as an exemplary project on the DBU website, in the DBU annual report, for social media contributions(LinkedIn, facebook, Instagram, Twitter, flickr, YouTube, mastodon) and at various trade fairs and events.

Preamble to our funding guidelines

The Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) was established by the German government in 1990 as a foundation under civil law. The task of the foundation is to promote projects for the protection of the environment, with a special focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. When the DBU began its funding activities in 1991, the first “Guidelines for Funding by the German Federal Foundation for the Environment” were published.

Revisions were made in 1998 and 2004. Based on a comprehensive evaluation, fundamentally redesigned funding guidelines are now being presented which, on the basis of the principles formulated in the Establishment Act and the Foundation’s Articles of Association, address the current challenges of environmental protection while taking social change into account. The DBU’s range of funding is based on interdisciplinary funding topics that are continuously adapted to the changing requirements of environmental protection.

At the same time, the possibility is created to take up innovative ideas from project partners via open-topic funding and to promote innovative environmental protection projects with special significance that are located outside the defined funding topics. In accordance with the foundation’s mission and guiding principles, the German Federal Foundation for the Environment promotes innovative, exemplary and solution-oriented projects for the protection of the environment. It implements this mission in the sense of sustainable development in its ecological, economic, social and cultural aspects, with special consideration for small and medium-sized enterprises in their dynamic diversity.

Environmental protection should also be understood as health protection. Funded projects should achieve sustainable effects in practice, provide impetus and have a multiplier effect. The DBU supports the communication and dissemination of the project results and brings them into the discussion processes on the key challenges of environmental protection. It is the DBU’s concern to contribute to the solution of current environmental problems, which result in particular from unsustainable economic and lifestyle practices in our society. The DBU sees key challenges above all in climate change, biodiversity loss, the unsustainable use of resources, and harmful emissions. In this way, the funding topics tie in with both current scientific findings on planetary boundaries and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN. With its funding activities, the DBU also aims to make a contribution in particular to the implementation of the German government’s sustainability and biodiversity strategies. Education and the active participation of children and young people are of outstanding importance for achieving ambitious sustainability goals.

The DBU is tackling this central task as well as the challenges of increasing urbanization.Complex environmental problems can only be mastered through interdisciplinary, systemic approaches that incorporate social practice. The DBU’s funding aims to set the tone here and consistently integrates the statutory fields of activity in its range of funding. The research, development and use of new environmentally friendly technologies and products in the sense of precautionary integrated environmental protection, the preservation and restoration of the national natural heritage as well as the promotion of environmental awareness and behavior of the people through information and measures of environmental education are equally and equally considered in the funding topics. The digitization of production, business and information processes is advancing at high speed and offers many approaches to solving environmental problems. Making consistent use of this in all funding topics is an important concern of the DBU.