Few specifications, countless possibilities: The zdi-BSO-MINT funding program

What is behind the funding program? Why is it worth thinking outside the box when designing the course? And how fast can the funding flow? Heinz Stöckemann from the zdi regional office provides the answers in an interview.

Heinz Stöckemann studied economics and is a consultant at matrix GmbH & Co. KG. He is primarily active in the zdi.NRW project, where he oversees the zdi-BSO-MINT funding program together with Gregor Frankenstein-von der Beeck.

Dear Heinz, zdi-BSO-MINT - what is behind this cryptic acronym?

zdi-BSO-MINT is simply short for in-depth Bprofessional and SstudyOorientation in the MINT area as part of zdi.NRW. At its core, the support program is about giving students in general schools detailed insights into MINT training and study programs through courses and workshops.

The program is an important building block at zdi, which aims to show students from grades 7 and up to grade 13 what certain job profiles entail. What are the future prospects of certain training or study subjects? At zdi-BSO-MINT, students can try out potential professional fields. It's not just about arousing and manifesting interest, but also about preventing false interest. A "No, I don't want to do something like that." is just as important as a "Yes, I can imagine that being great for my professional future." That's what zdi-BSO-MINT is there for. In order to explore your own interests as a student and to determine knowledge about your own abilities and skills.


The program is funded in equal parts by the NRW regional directorate of the Federal Employment Agency and the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science. The latter is also the client of zdi.NRW.

Is the funding program an answer to the fact that there are not enough young people in the STEM field? Or was the program initiated preventively?

The program has now been in existence for over 11 years. It was already foreseeable at the time that STEM professions and STEM courses in particular would experience a shortage of skilled workers now and in the years to come. It was therefore created in order to master the urgent skilled worker situation in NRW at an early stage. But it is also a prevention program, because in-depth career and study orientation never ends. Professions and job descriptions are constantly changing. For example, what a plant and machine operator needs to know today can hardly be compared to what was common twenty years ago.

All zdi-BSO-MINT applications go through your desk. In your opinion, what makes a zdi-BSO-MINT measure successful?

A central component of all zdi courses is that the children and young people are not simply told what a specific MINT area or MINT profession involves, but that the students experience it themselves in practice. In zdi-BSO-MINT courses, the participants focus on a specific MINT topic together with the lecturers. In the course of the course, the lecturers then point out specializations within job profiles. That's why it's important to think about how a heterogeneous group of students can actually be inspired when designing the course. Ideally, the students are involved in the conception of measures. How the zdi regions implement the individual zdi-BSO-MINT measures in detail is of course up to them. You are almost free in the course design. Many regions come up with really great ideas with which they inspire the students. What the lecturers often hear in such courses is: "I didn't even know that I could do that and what it all had to do with it!" Moments like this show how important the measures are. Because the students are not always aware of what exactly is hidden behind certain MINT professions and in which professions that apparently have nothing to do with MINT, there is a lot of MINT. 

Are there certain prerequisites for the course design that have to be met? Is there a complicated and lengthy process behind the application and approval?

There are a few formalities, such as the minimum number of participants, a corresponding professional qualification of the lecturers or a minimum duration. But the formalities are deliberately kept low-threshold so that as many zdi regions as possible can carry out career and study orientation measures. Due to the low minimum requirements, zdi-BSO-MINT measures can also be implemented at very short notice.

If you have a good concept and an exciting topic that interests the young people, then a course can be realized and implemented quickly. As the zdi regional office, we are always enthusiastic when the zdi regions come around the corner with new ideas. Ideally, the zdi participants should inquire about the formalities before designing the course. Because if everything is right, then we can also approve such a measure at short notice.

What do you wish for the future of the zdi-BSO-MINT funding program?

I wish I had more courage when designing new offers. Whether art, culture or sport. Whether industry, trade, services or crafts. Regardless of whether it is training or studying. MINT is interdisciplinary and can be found everywhere! As a zdi region, you can definitely think about it: What have I had in my portfolio for a long time, what could I redesign or even redesign? At zdi.NRW we always say to the students: Test yourself! Try new things! This also applies to the zdi regions. Try out new things, because this is the only way to come up with innovative ideas and offers. Ask the students what they feel like doing and what they would like to do or research. Develop offers together. In the meantime, each zdi region has a certain number of partner schools. Try to enter into a discourse with the students about the schools. Of course, all of this is easier said than done. For this you need partners, companies and universities who stand by you as the zdi region. But companies and universities are also quick to jump on good ideas.

Many thanks for the interview!

zdi-BSO-MINT has now reached 400.000 participants. Here is the anniversary story.

Do you need inspiration for course design? Here you will find an overview of particularly successful measures and innovative ideas from the zdi community in recent years.

All information about the funding program and contact options can be found here: www.zdi-portal.de/zdi-bso-mint.

You might also be interested in these posts


Attention zdi community: Start new funding programs


Second round of funding for regional STEM clusters | Online exchange of experiences of the zdi community


15 years zdi | Since 2009, zdi-BSO-MINT has reached 400.000 young people