A brief guide to EXIST-Gründerstipendium
Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) runs a special innovation program to promote startups, called EXIST. It gives grants to transfer university research into startups, and helps foster a culture of entrepreneurship through innovation workshops, coaching/consulting services (from the assigned Entrepreneurial Network of coaches and mentors), and industry connections. The stages of their entrepreneurial journey are uniquely entitled: Get Started, Get Prepared, Get Together, and Get Traction.
Around 2,300 startups from a wide variety of research fields have graduated from the EXIST program, roughly 60% of which were in medicine and life sciences. Many other innovative technology-based startup projects and knowledge-based services are also funded.
Teams of up to three founders are supported, preferably with diverse backgrounds. Rarely do three students receive EXIST funding. At least one founder should be a non-student, whereas everyone on the team needs to have been within five years of graduation from a university. Another key requirement is that businesses are not supposed to have been registered prior to starting EXIST.
The EXIST program gives entrepreneurs freedom to start a company with almost no financial risk. With a maximum funding period of one year, teams receive both personnel and material expenses.
- Personnel Expenses:
- PhD students: 3.000 EUR /month
- Graduates: 2.500 EUR /month
- Technical Staff: 2.000 EUR /month
- Students: 1.000 EUR /month
- Material Expenses:
- Single foundations: up to 10.000 EUR
- Teams: up to 30.000 EUR
- Coaching/Consulting: up to 5.000 EUR
- Child Support: 150 EUR /month
How to start with the application process
- Think about potential sponsor Professors, before even applying, and whether or not their university is affiliated with EXIST. It may take some time to find a sponsoring Professor. Make a list of potential sponsors related to your research focus, major, or specialisation.
- Prepare a 25-page concept paper that includes your business idea, market and competition analysis, and business plan, which is co-created with the university. The affiliated university then submits your application to the project management agency, which makes the ultimate decision. It is important to note here that the university / research institute makes the submission, however every stakeholder is involved in creating the application: the university, founding team, and sponsoring Professor who’s involvement varies depending on the extent to which the project furthers his/her research focus. He/she however must always sign off on the application.
With respect to Berliner Startup Stipendium (BSS), EXIST is a great follow on public funding opportunity as long the BSS program hasn’t lasted longer than 8 months.
Interested in High-Tech SeedLab’s program and learning about subsequent funding opportunities? We will open up applications in October for batch 2021. Take a look at our website to learn more about our program requirements and contact us if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), as well as the State of Berlin.