European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure DE-2016-1/2555 – measures in Germany

Consulting on business knowledge

Förderung unternehmerischen Know-hows

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 January 2016 – 31 December 2022
Context COVID-19, Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Supporting businesses to stay afloat
– Access to finance
Author Sandra Vogel (IW)
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 02 November 2022)

Background information

The instrument forms part of a broader programme meant to improve the business knowledge and competitiveness of young businesses and small and medium-sized companies. The instrument grew out of four previous programme lines and was set up in 2016. It takes a targeted approach and also provides special financial support for consultation for female entrepreneurs, micro businesses and integration of migrant workers.

The instrument, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund, was set up by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy (BMWi) and is run by the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control BAFA.

Content of measure

During a downturn, small and medium-sized companies can apply for financial support for consultation services. When qualifying criteria are met, 90% of the consultation costs of up to €2,700 will be covered. 

The measure is aimed at:

  • young companies that have not been on the market for more than two years (young companies);

  • companies in their third year since the foundation (existing companies);

  • companies that are experiencing economic difficulties - regardless of company age (companies in difficulty).

Young businesses located in the East German federal states (excluding Berlin and the Leipzig region) are able to get up to 80% and a maximum of €3,200 of consultation costs covered, while young businesses in Lüneburg get 60% and a maximum of €2,400 covered. All other young businesses located in the West German federal states, in Berlin or in the Leipzig region, will receive a funding of 50% or a maximum of €2,000 for consultancy services. Young businesses are defined as having entered the market no longer than two years ago. The enterprises must comply with the EU definition of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Existing businesses in the new federal states (excluding Berlin and the Leipzig region) are also able to get up to 80% of consultation costs covered. However, the maximum grant is €2,400. Existing businesses in Lüneburg get 60% and a maximum of €1,800 covered, while all other existing businesses in the old federal states, Berlin and Leipzig get 50% and a maximum of €1,500 covered.

The employer must first apply to a regional agency, for example, the Chambers of Commerce or Chambers of Craft, which check the company’s eligibility. Following approval, the employer is free to choose any certified consultant agency for advice.  

COVID-19 Update:

In April 2020, the BMWi announced that all businesses affected by the pandemic will get 100% and a maximum of €4,000 of consultation costs covered. The improved conditions will be available until the end of 2020. However, in early June 2020 BAFA announced that all of the programme’s financial support has been exhausted.  

Use of measure

This measure proactively supports young businesses and SMEs in avoiding mismanagement and insolvency. The annual financial resources have been exhausted since early June 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A full evaluation of the new programme (set up in 2016) is not yet available. However, the German newspaper 'Sueddeutsche Zeitung' reported in June 2020 that some consultants provided false information to clients and promised financial support, though clients were not eligible for funding. In the report, the media also warns about unprofessional consultants that provide services within the scope of the programme without having sufficient expertise. 

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
European Funds
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown



Views and reactions




Eurofound (2022), Consulting on business knowledge, measure DE-2016-1/2555 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

30 January 2023


Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

Governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine. This article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch database from January to September 2022.


12 September 2022


First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


12 September 2022


Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses that governments across the EU have started to implement to support companies affected by the rising prices, and those with commercial ties to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.


5 July 2022


Policies to support refugees from Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses of EU Member States, including those of the social partners and other civil society actors, enabling refugees to exercise their rights under the Temporary Protection Directive.


Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.