“Our times are so exciting you can only shock people with boredom,” said the late playwright Samuel Beckett, who deceased at the end of the 1980s. Niedersachsen’s small and medium-sized companies really can only be shocked by boredom, with the conditions of competition on the international markets changing so quickly from one day to the next. Even if a company has no international commitments itself, it is exposed to ever greater international competition, since the world economy is so intertwined nowadays. In order to increase the competitiveness of companies in Niedersachsen, the state has entrusted large parts of its funding to NBank, Niedersachsen’s investment and development bank.
Offer customised to each company situation. The key focus is on promoting investment in small and medium-sized companies, that is providing the capital needed for equipment, staffing costs or to secure liquidity. The aim is to put together the ideal overall financing packages of low-interest loans, grants or securities for companies.
Innovation is the key to economic success. Innovation is the key for small and medium-sized companies to assert themselves in light of the rapidly changing conditions of competition. It is especially when financing these innovations that these companies meet obstacles. The market acceptance of an idea is difficult to judge at the beginning. In general, innovations require a large amount of capital, since high staffing and material costs are incurred before the potential success, without this success being certain. For banks and savings banks, awarding credit is therefore linked to risks which are difficult to calculate. However, small and medium-sized companies are highly dependent on borrowed capital, since they do not have sufficient financial resources and direct access to the capital market is almost impossible. Optimisation in the funding of innovations helps to overcome some of these hurdles and to minimise the risks. Small and medium-sized companies are mobilised to develop new products, processes and services, rather than merely improving existing products.
Companies which are only just discovering their innovation potential have particular requirements. They need structures and qualified staff to implement an idea, and look for access to resources in research and development. It will therefore become increasingly important to transfer research results from universities to companies. Today, NBank is already using funding from the state and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to promote cooperation between universities and companies, as well as outsourcing from universities. This cooperation between business and science is happening in a unique way in the “Innovation Incubator” at Leuphana University in Lüneburg. With its many innovation projects, this large-scale project is aimed not only at creating and securing jobs, but also at strengthening the innovative potential of small and medium-sized companies in particular. New ideas and processes are developed and highly qualified graduates produced.
Consultancy provides transparency in promotion options. Consultancy services from NBank give companies transparency regarding the range of support from the state, federal government and EU which can be taken advantage of in Niedersachsen. The more intensively a company makes use of this, the more customised their support is and the more sustainable the success promised by the support in the end. The state and the company both benefit.
Michael Kiesewetter (born in 1969) has been the CEO of NBank, Niedersachsen’s investment and development bank, since late 2010. Before this, he worked at NORD/LB from 1995, ultimately as head of corporate development at the state bank. Previously, he was head of department for North-East Europe and managing director of a Nord/LB subsidiary in Latvia.