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Centre for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and SMEs (CENTIM)

Funding programmes for founders

You want to set up a business, but are facing financial and technical hurdles in implementing it? If you have an innovative and viable business idea and would like to apply for support in the form of a funding programme, the Start-up-Manufaktur and the ZWT will advise you and accompany you through the application process.
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Ready to start up? The EXIST-Gründungsstipendium can provide the necessary financial support (Photo: Unsplash)

Many imaginative ideas arise at universities that have the potential to be transformed into a viable business model and ultimately a potential start-up. Committed students, graduates and employees develop business ideas and start-up projects from personal interests, projects or research that they would like to pursue in the context of a business start-up. Often, it is not the implementation of the idea that is the obstacle to realising the dream of owning a business, but rather a lack of financial resources and professional input.

The federal and state governments offer various scholarship programmes for prospective entrepreneurs. Here we introduce you to EXIST-GründungsstipendiumGründungsstipendium.NRW and EXIST-Forschungstransfer. If you are interested in one of the programmes, please contact Start-up-Manufaktur for more information.

The scholarships are non-repayable loans and finance your living expenses so that you can fully concentrate on your start-up project.

EXIST Business Start-up Grant

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The BMWK's EXIST funding programme aims to facilitate a strong start-up culture at universities (Logo:

The EXIST funding programme of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) has set itself the goal of providing students, graduates and academic staff with particularly promising start-up plans with the best possible support in the form of a start-up grant.


  • Idea: You are working on an innovative technology-oriented start-up project or an innovative knowledge-based service that is based on scientific findings.
  • Team: You are an individual founder or you are founding a team. In the case of a team start-up, up to three people can be funded; the start-up team itself can also be larger.

Amount of funding:

  • Between €1,000 and €3,000 per month per person, depending on your most recent degree
  • Funding period: 12 months
  • Additional funding for material expenses (up to 10,000 €) and coaching services (up to 5,000 €)


  • The applicant for the EXIST-Gründungsstipendium is always the university.
  • Applications can be submitted at any time.
  • After reviewing the documents, the Project Management Organisation Jülich decides whether to accept or reject the application.
  • Approved funds are paid out to the university, which administers them for the founding team
  • Funded teams present the first results of the business plan after five months and submit the final business plan after ten months.

More information on the EXIST start-up grant can be found directly on the website:


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The state of NRW also offers its own scholarship programme. The Gründungsstipendium.NRW of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIDE) supports innovative start-ups in the region.


  • Idea: You have a business idea in the field of future-oriented technologies and innovative services.
  • Team: You are an individual founder or you are founding a team. In the case of a team start-up, up to three people can be funded; the start-up team itself can also be larger.
  • Foundation: Your company was founded no more than twelve months ago or is due to be founded in the next twelve months.
  • Location: Your place of residence is in NRW.

Amount of funding:

  • 1,000 per month per person
  • Funding period: maximum 12 months
  • Individual coaching


  • The H-BRS advises and supports you in the application process and puts you in contact with an accredited start-up network.
  • You prepare an idea paper and present your idea to a qualified jury.
  • If the jury recommends funding, you submit an official funding application.
  • Once the application has been approved, the funding period begins
  • Applications can be submitted at any time.

You can find more information about the Gründungsstipendium.NRW directly on the website:

EXIST Transfer of Research

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In the two phases of funding of the EXIST programme Transfer of Research, research results with start-up potential are funded. (Source: Unsplash)

The EXIST Transfer of Research programme funds outstanding research-based start-up projects. In two successive funding phases, research results with start-up potential are further developed, implemented in technical products or processes and finally transferred into a business. The goal of Phase I of funding is to prove technical feasibility, prepare a business plan and finally establish the company. The aim of Phase II is development work up to market maturity and the start of business operations.


Phase I of Funding

  • Idea: You have an innovative idea with a high technical risk and have already been researching it for over a year. The realisation requires pure development work of at least one to one and a half year.
  • Team: Funding is available for teams of three scientists from universities or non-university research institutions and one person with business management expertise. All team members must have at least a Master's degree.
  • Company: The company must not have been founded at the start of the project, but may be founded during the period of funding.

Phase II of Funding

  • In order to be eligible for phase II, the project must have successfully completed phase I and founded a GmbH.
  • The company founded in Phase I is the applicant (not the university as in phase I ) and contributes its own funds to the funding in a ratio of 1:3.

Funding amount

Phase I of Funding

  • between 0.5 million and 1.5 million euros (personnel expenses as well as material expenses up to a total of 250,000 €)
  • Funding period: 18 months (optionally up to 36 months)

Phase II of Funding

  • A maximum of 180,000 €, but no more than 75 percent of the specific costs of the project
    Funding period: 18 months


Phase I of Funding

  • The applicant is the university
  • Project outlines can be submitted by 31.01 or 31.07.
  • If the project outline is evaluated positively, the team pitches the project pitch before a jury of experts, who decide whether the project is accepted or rejected.
  • Generally, the project can start at the earliest 6 months after submission of the project outline.

Phase II of Funding

  • The application is submitted by the company established in Phase I
  • The decision on funding in Phase II will again depend on the recommendation of the expert jury, which meets four times during the course of a year.
  • Applications for Phase II of funding can already be submitted approx. 6 months before the end of Phase I.

More information on the EXIST Transfer of Research can be found directly on the website:

Contact persons at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

The university is your first contact and partner when applying for either the EXIST programmes or the Start-up Grant NRW.

In our start-up consultation, we advise you on the right programme for you and give you feedback on your idea and the documents to be submitted.

Katharina Kämmer from ZWT will assist you with the application process.

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The Start-up-Manufaktur is an initiative of CENTIM and is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action as part of the EXIST programme (Logos:


Katharina Kämmerer (DE)

Katharina Kämmerer

Research Funding, Department: Engineering and Communication (FB 03), Institutes: TREE, ISF/IDT, Overarching topics: intellectual property rights and exploitation, support for start-ups


Sankt Augustin


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