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Separate and full cost accounting

On 1 January 2007, the EU Commission issued the joint Framework for State aid for research, development and innovation (Framework for State aid) which took effect in Germany on 1 January 2009. The Framework for State aid is available online at:

Joint Framework for State aid for research, development and innovation (PDF)

The Framework for State aid is an internal administrative regulation to interpret Art. 87 para. 1 EGV (now called Art. 107 para. 1 AEUV), which prohibits state aid or aid from state funds of any type if these result in favouring specific companies or manufacturing sector and as such might falsify or threaten to falsify competition. This affects research and development orders at state universities in that accepting an order under the market price is interpreted as aid within the meaning of these provisions. Before the Framework for State aid took effect, not-for-profit universities and research institutions were exempt from this aid prohibition under Art. 87 para. 1 EGV. This has now changed and requires several changes to be implemented in our internal processes.

These changes are focused primarily on the introduction of “separate accounting”, a systematic distinction between economic and non-economic activities. According to Section 3.1.1 of the Framework for State aid, state financing of non-economic activities at an institution performing both economic and non-economic activities is not subject to the aid prohibition (Art. 87 para. 1 EGV) if the two activity types and their costs and financing can be clearly separated. The cost allocation to the activity types (economic - non-economic) is used as evidence that no “cross-subsidising” has taken place, and universities can compile this as part of the annual financial statements. If no such separation is presented, the EU Commission assumes that all state grants are aid. If an audit concludes that state aid is used for economic activities at universities, state grants may have to be repaid.

Non-economic activities include teaching, the distribution of research results and technology transfer so long as all income is reinvested in the university’s main activities, as well as so-called “grant projects”, such as DFG or EU projects.

The economic activities of a university include infrastructure rental, services (particularly consultancy services) for third parties and contract research.

Contract research or research services are not deemed to be subject to state aid if the university performs its services at market prices or, if no market price is available, at a price containing all costs and a suitable profit margin. For this purpose, full costs must be calculated.

If you have any questions regarding the definitions of economic and non-economic activities, or regarding offer calculations, particularly for ongoing project negotiations, please contact the Department for Research Funding and Management of Third-Party Funds at the responsible Division 1.
“Separate accounting and full cost accounting” software

You can access the “Separate accounting and full cost accounting” software at

Professors acting as project managers are automatically created as users and can log into the software using their ZIM user name and ZIM password. All other scientific staff are only approved for use if their professor requests this.

The application for an account to use the separate accounting software is available at: