ZENIT – Center for Innovation and Technology in North Rhine-Westphalia, DE
Established in 1984 in Mülheim an der Ruhr as a non-profit innovation consulting organisation, ZENIT has been firmly embedded in the business and innovation landscape in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Its mission from the start has been to support especially regional SMEs to develop or adopt innovative and sustainable business concepts by taking advantage of various information and consulting services of ZENIT. Thus ZENIT’s official mission, as laid down in its statutes, is “The promotion of innovation and technology, above all in small and medium-sized enterprises in North Rhine-Westphalia”.
As a public-private partnership, the shareholders of which are an association of companies (some 200 regional SMEs), banks and regional ministries, ZENIT represents the interface between business, finance and politics and as such plays an important role in regional innovation and SME policy. Expertise ranges from international business strategy and innovation management to technology funding. ZENIT currently has a total of 50 employees.
Field of competences:
ZENIT’s services are categorized into three main areas: 1. Europe, 2. Technology & Innovation, 3. Funding which reflects perfectly the objectives of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The EEN consists of 600 organisations in over 60 countries worldwide. In the period from 2008 to 2004 the network helped more than 2.6 Mio. SMEs to innovate and grow international.
ZENIT’s target groups are SMEs, higher education and other scientific institutions, as these are an integral part of the innovation chain and crucial in the transfer of knowledge and technology. Furthermore ZENIT as semi-public agency for the Regional Government of North Rhine-Westphalia and has best relations to procurement departments across Europe.
ZENIT has coordinated the NRW.Europa project since the inception of the Enterprise Europe Network in 2008. Beyond this ZENIT was NCP for SME in FP7 as well as NCP for CIP Eco-innovation and CIP ICT PSP until the end of 2013. The programme of CIP ICT PSP was in particular related to public institutions and SMEs as main target groups. It focused on transnational public services. Within the programme calls the EC started to launch innovation procurement projects. Until end of 2014 ZENIT was member in the ICT experts group of the Member States at European Commission.
Since 2012 ZENIT is active as a competence centre for public procurement of innovation in NRW. They assisted the Ministry of NRW to integrate PCP and PPI into the innovation and research strategy of the Land NRW and gave in-depth consulting services to public procurer.
Since 1st January 2017 ZENIT manages the EU Contact Point for Public Procurement of Innovation throughout Germany. The EU Contact Point offers competent consulting services for proposers in Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) and Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions (PPI) as well as networking calls under HORIZON 2020 and other EU funding programmes. German public authorities can receive in-depth services in proposal writing and project management. Support will be given to international consortia looking for German partners.
ZENIT has broad experience of the different EU funding schemes, like Structural Funds/ESIF, Horizon2020 as funding experts and as partner in projects financed by ESIF and/or H2020. ZENIT won in 2015 the tender of the regional government of North Rhine-Westphalia of the project named “Brückenbildung”. The aim of the project is to create synergies between the Structural Funds in North Rhine-Westphalia and the H2020 programme. This is the first and unique project in the EU, which tries to create synergies. This project can determine for example the identification of potential follow-up PPI actions.