Nanofutures is a funding initiative within the WING programme of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. It funds research groups of young high potentials that focus on nanotechnology and nano-materials. It represents a good practice example of how to tackle skills-related challenges in KETs.This initiative aims to support young professionals and to encourage training and continuing education activities in industry and science, contributing towards creating a European research area and intensifying internationalisation. It also aims to achieve greater participation of German R&D actors in the EU framework programmes, as well as expanding bilateral cooperation with countries such as China, Korea, Brazil and Israel.
Thirty groups have been funded so far, resulting in start-ups, new academia-industry cooperation, patents, and the take-off of scientific careers. Nanofutures is implemented by organising research groups of three to seven young high potentials that receive 1.5 million to 3 million EUR to build up their own independent research group and necessary infrastructure, including equipment. Cornerstone of the initiative is the autonomy given to the research groups on how and when they spend their money, preventing them from being hampered by existing research structures or the agenda of other research staff.
The WING initiative is implemented through calls for project proposals that are evaluated against one another in a multi-phase selection procedure. The core of the projects consists of application-oriented collaborative research that has industry and academia work in tandem.