Operational Programme 'Hessen'

Programme involving participation by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), under the 'regional competitiveness and employment' objective


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On 25 July 2007, the European Commission approved a regional development programme for Hessen covering the period 2007-2013, entitled the "Operationelles Programm für die Förderung der regionalen Wettbewerbsfähigkeit und Beschäftigung in Hessen aus Mitteln des Europäischen Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE) 2007 bis 2013 [ERDF (Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective) operational programme for Hessen, 2007-2013]". This programme constitutes European Union funding for Hessen under the "regional competitiveness and employment" objective. The overall budget of the programme comprises some EUR 557 million, EU assistance from the ERDF amounting to approximately EUR 263 million (roughly 1.00 % of all the EU funding invested in Germany under cohesion policies over the period 2007-2013).

1. Aims and objectives of EU investment

The primary aim of the programme is to create and safeguard sustainable, competitive and well-paid jobs by enhancing the competitiveness of businesses in Hessen.

The ERDF programme for Hessen 2007-13 should help stimulate businesses' innovation capacity and improve the infrastructures required for business competitiveness. This should help achieve one of the goals of the Lisbon strategy, by enhancing competitiveness and employment in Hessen and in the wider economic area of the European Union as a whole.

The operational programme seeks to facilitate knowledge-based and innovation-led development in businesses, strengthen the enterprise base in Hessen by promoting business start-ups and growth, and reduce regional disparities by exploiting endogenous regional development potential.

2. The anticipated impact of the investment

Among other goals, the programme seeks to create or revitalise 1 500 training posts in 50 non-State vocational training establishments; promote 7 cluster initiatives and innovation-oriented cooperation networks; create or safeguard 1 050 full-time jobs by assisting 95 businesses with venture-capital and loan funds; and promote 8 700 business and business start-up advisory services.

3. Priority axes

In order to achieve the main objectives of the programme as set out under point 4, the ERDF operational programme for Hessen 2007-2013 is structured in terms of the following priority axes:

Priority axis 1: Innovation and knowledge-based economy

This priority axis calls for a sustained drive to use innovation to accelerate structural change in Hessen's economy. The innovation capacity of businesses should be improved by promoting application-friendly research and development (R&D) in R&D establishments, supporting technology transfer, clusters and innovation-oriented cooperation networks, encouraging business R&D in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research cooperation between SMEs and universities, supporting innovation assistants and information and communication technology (ICT) in SMEs, investment in non-State vocational training establishments and in ICT equipment for vocational training schools, and by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Priority axis 2: Start-up development and promotion of business competitiveness and employment, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises

In order to improve regional competitiveness and employment, it is necessary to accelerate structural change in the economy by increasing the number of business start-ups and stepping up investment in business modernisation and growth. This should be achieved by supporting businesses using both tried and tested and new financial instruments such as loans and venture capital, and by offering advice and infrastructure support. Priority axis 2 therefore supports the following measures: a loan fund and venture-capital fund for business start-ups and SME growth, advice centres for SMEs and start-ups, business advisory and training services, the emergence of business incubators, regional business start-up initiatives, regional structural investment in the creation, expansion or extensive modernisation of businesses, investment in childcare facilities in businesses and universities, support for business start-ups and small enterprises to improve the local economy in selected urban redevelopment areas.

Priority axis 3: Expansion of specific development potential and reduction of regional disparities

The third priority axis is intended to support activities capable of identifying and mobilising specific endogenous regional development potential in order to reduce regional disparities in Hessen. This should take tangible form through the promotion of integrated regional development plans, regional management activities, regional marketing measures, the revitalisation of derelict industrial, military and transport facilities, regionally important and primarily inter-municipal infrastructures for the location and development of businesses, integrated sustainable urban development plans, expansion of the tourism infrastructure to open up additional regional sources of income and growth potential and to exploit the natural and cultural heritage for tourism purposes, and by encouraging efforts to link the Calden regional airport to the regional and inter-regional transport network.

Priority axis 4: Technical assistance

Funding has also been allocated for technical assistance in the implementation of the programme, including measures relating to the preparation, administration, supervision, assessment, information and monitoring of the operational programme.

Priority axes 1 to 3 can also promote European interregional co-operation projects. This involves support for exchange-of-experience and networking projects as well as pilot actions involving regional and local authorities, businesses, universities, economic development organisations, associations and other bodies from various European regions. Support can also be given to the compilation of inter-regional analyses.

It should also be possible to use some of the ERDF funding (up to 5%) in priority axes 1 to 3 to experiment with innovative support methods and practices. This opportunity to experiment should be used to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance offered and support regional innovation systems and strategies.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Hessen'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Innovation and knowledge-based economy 104 754 159 28 192 495 132 946 654
Start-up development and promotion of business competitiveness and employment, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises 78 200 000 41 948 000 120 148 000
Expansion of specific development potential and reduction of regional disparities 71 500 000 46 860 000 118 360 000
Technical assistance 9 000 000 9 000 000 18 000 000
Total 263 454 159 126 000 495 389 454 654