How do you finance the start of your self-employment?

You’ve got many possibilities: E.g., you can do bootstrapping, find one or more investors or take out a loan from a bank. In any case, you should check whether you are eligible for public funding. Especially innovative technology- and knowledge-based start-up projects have a good chance to raise public funds. We would like to introduce you to five funding programmes that could be suitable for founders with an academic background.

EXIST Founders Scholarship

You are a student, graduate or scientist from a university or non-university research institution and have an innovative technology-oriented or knowledge-based business idea? Great! Talk to us and let us clarify together whether you can apply for the EXIST start-up scholarship. If your start-up project has a significant unique selling point and good prospects for economic success, the chances are very good. The scholarship includes the securing of the personal livelihood of the founders, material expenses and coaching funds. Detailed information on the EXIST start-up scholarship can be found at (german).

EXIST research transfer

You are a founding team at a university or research institution and would like to transfer your current research results from academic research into application and start a company based on them? Great! The EXIST-Forschungstransfer funding programme supports you in the preparation and implementation of technically particularly risky and complex development work. Let’s find out if you are eligible for this funding program. EXIST research transfer can be used to finance personnel expenses / costs for a maximum of four personnel positions as well as material expenses / costs. Detailed information on the EXIST research transfer can be found at (german).

START-UP University Start-ups NRW

Are you a founding team from a North Rhine-Westphalian university that would like to become self-employed with a technological, business or social innovation? Do you perhaps offer an innovative, knowledge-intensive service? Very good! Talk to us! Together we can check whether you meet all the requirements for this funding programme and whether it makes sense to submit an application. The program “START-UP University Spin-offs” provides funds for personnel lump sums, project-specific material and material expenses, investments as well as expenses for external services. Detailed information can be found at (german).


Bio-Tech founders pay attention. Have you heard about GO-Bio? This BMBF competition gives younger scientists who are already experienced in research the opportunity to further develop innovative research topics in the field of biosciences in Germany with their own research group and to apply them in a targeted manner to commercial exploitation. The funding will be used to identify the application potential of the development, to validate it technologically and to prepare the commercial potential of the development with the aim of establishing a biotech company. Detailed information on Go-Bio can be found at (german).


“Validation of the technological and social innovation potential of scientific research – VIP+” is an open funding measure and is aimed at researchers from universities, non-university research institutions jointly financed by the Federal Government and the Länder, and federal institutions with R&D tasks. The VIP+ funding programme supports scientists in examining and demonstrating the innovation potential of research results and in developing possible areas of application. This research and development work is funded with up to 1.5 million euros. Detailed information about VIP+ can be found at (german).A