Funding Programmes for Starting a Business


Graduates and scientists with an innovative business idea can use the EXIST programme to receive funding.

EXIST is a support programme of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) to promote the huge potential for business ideas
and entrepreneurs at universities and to increase the number of technology- and knowledge-based start-ups. There are two different lines of funding:

  1. The EXIST Business Start-Up Grant provides support for preparing innovative, technology-oriented and knowledge-based start-up projects
    developed by academics, graduates, and students. The entrepreneurs receive a grant for 12 months. The programme also covers the costs
    for material, equipment and coaching up to 30,000 euro. The university offers workplace and infrastructure andprovides technical and
    start-up-related assistance.

  2. The EXIST Research Transfer supports the development work required to prove the technical feasibility of new research-based ideas for start-ups,
    as well as the preparations needed for the business launch. The funding includes expenses for up to three staff members and for another person
    with managerial skills as well as costs of materials and equipment up to 250,000 euro. The maximum funding period is 18 months in the
    pre-start-up phase and 18 months after founding a company. During this second funding phase, the newly founded companies can be supported
    with up to 180,000 euro.

For further information and advice please contact L3S Resident Business Adviser Susanne Oetzmann.


mFund is a programme of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure that supports digital innovation in the field of mobility.


WIPANO is a new programme for innovative technology-oriented companies to support them in applying for a patent.

Competitions and Awards

Another way to get advice and financial support is to take part in business idea and startup competitions.

Preisgelder in Höhe von 5.000 Euro für das jeweils beste Start-up

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WECONOMY gibt jedes Jahr technologieorientierten Gründern gezielt Umsetzungshilfe bei wichtigen Themen wie Markteintritt, Organisations- und Unternehmensentwicklung sowie den Zugang zu einem spannenden Netzwerk aus Unternehmern, Managern, Experten und Gründern.

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Das Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) unterstützt mit dem "Gründerwettbewerb – Digitale Innovationen" Unternehmensgründungen, bei denen innovative Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien zentraler Bestandteil des Produkts oder der Dienstleistung sind.

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Financing and Coaching Programmes for Startups by Public Business Development Banks

Business Angels

Find out more about startup financing by Business Angels 

Private Equity

Bundesverband Deutscher Kapitalbeteiligungsgesellschaften (German only)

Public support programmes for startups:

Examples for Crowdinvesting Platforms

Examples for Crowdfunding Platforms