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Our Network

Each university offers entrepreneurial support or is part of an entrepreneurial network.

Our map of the EXIST-Entrepreneurial Network shows which services can be found locally. Students, Alumni and researchers interested in startups can come here for guidance and support.

The EXIST-Alumni map displays which EXIST funded start-ups have developed into successful enterprises.

German Accelerator

German Accelerator empowers German startups to scale globally.

Details about the German Accelerator

Our programs are highly customized to the participants’ individual needs in order to help them enter international markets and succeed quickly. Since launching in 2012, German Accelerator has nurtured over 230 startups which have raised more than US$ 3.0 billion in funding so far.

German Accelerator is a team of successful entrepreneurs, investors, and experts who truly enjoy helping German startups become global category leaders. Participation in our programs is free of charge. German Accelerator is run by German Entrepreneurship GmbH and is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) – it is their belief that investing in startups is directly investing in innovation, job creation, and economic growth.

Startups can choose between San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and New York for a U.S. expansion or Singapore to scale to Southeast Asia. Life sciences companies are supported through our dedicated program based in Cambridge/Boston. The German Accelerator offices in Munich and Berlin provide additional central support. Visit for more information.

Kickstart International Program

New: „Kickstart International”

The German Accelerator's new Kickstart International program sensitizes startups to the topic of internationalization and prepares interested founding teams for the GA program abroad. Workshops and exchanges with experts ensure a steep learning curve for participants. The program is operated by German Entrepreneurship GmbH and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

The advantages of the Kickstart International program

  • Startups gain a better understanding of why and when international expansion is relevant to them.
  • The knowledge necessary to build a scalable business is taught early on.
  • The program helps determine if a company is ready for international expansion.
  • Start-ups lay the foundation for possible expansion plans under the guidance of experienced mentors.
  • All program participants can get in touch with over 300 mentors from Germany, Asia and the USA.

Terms of participation

Start-ups must be registered in Germany with one of the following legal forms: UG (haftungsbeschränkt), AG, GmbH, GmbH & Co. KG (for GbRs, a decision on possible participation will be made on an individual basis). In addition, applicants must be below the official EU de minimis funding.


EXIST cooperates with partners who are also committed to the promotion of start-ups and entrepreneurship.

In addition to universities and their entrepreneurship support, other partners are working together with the EXIST program, including the organizers of business plan competitions, the providers of financing and funding instruments as well as the institutions of entrepreneurial research.

Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt

Stablogo DPMA

© Deutsches Patent und Markenamt

The Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA) is the competence center for all industrial property rights of intellectual property - for patents, utility models, trademarks and designs.

As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, it stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalized economy. Its staff members are service providers for inventors and enterprises and further develop the national, European and international protection systems.

The DPMA informs the public about the industrial property rights valid in Germany. The office fulfils this task by means of its DPMAregister and DEPATISnet publication and search services available on the Internet.

Another important task is to inform potential applicants about what to consider when filing a patent, utility model, trade mark or design application. Here, the inquiry units and search rooms of the office provide assistance, as do the 20 Patentinformationszentren (PIZ) throughout Germany.

Source and further information:

Gründungswoche Deutschland

Gründerwoche Deutschland

© BMWi

During the nationwide action week, numerous free events for founders take place every year in November. All events are published in the Founders' Week calendar of events. Together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the partners of Gründungswoche Deutschland thus provide impetus for a new start-up culture and a friendlier start-up climate

The partners of the Gründungswoche Deutschland include universities, schools, chambers, start-up initiatives, business development agencies, companies, etc. The task of the partners is to hold non-commercial free events during the Gründungswoche.

Interested universities are welcome to register as partners at any time.

The Gründungswoche Deutschland is held in close cooperation with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which inspires millions of young people in more than 170 countries to embrace innovative ideas, start-ups and entrepreneurship.

The goal is,

  • To inspire (young) people to think and act entrepreneurially,
  • foster entrepreneurial skills and inspire creativity,
  • to enable the exchange of ideas, experiences and opinions on the subject of start-ups and self-employment,
  • To present initiatives to promote start-up ideas.

High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF)

Logo des HTGF (High-Tech Gründerfonds)

© High-Tech Gründerfonds

High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is a seed investor that finances high-potential, tech-driven start- ups. With EUR 892,5 million in total investment and an international network of partners, HTGF has already helped forge 500 start-ups since 2005. Driven by their expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and passion, its team of experienced investment managers and start-up experts help guide the development of young companies. HTGF’s focus is on high-tech start-ups in a range of sectors, including software, media, internet, hardware, automation, health care, chemicals and life sciences.

Investors in this public-private partnership include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the KfW Banking Group, and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V., as well as a number of private companies.

High-Tech Gründerfonds and EXIST work together since many years. Many EXIST-funded teams receive a seed investment from HTGF.

This is mainly due to the particularly high level of market, management and technical risks of technology-based start-ups. Young technology companies and start-ups are therefore often exposed to financing difficulties. Therefore, with the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) in 2005 an instrument was created, that invests venture capital in newly founded German technology companies and thus contributing to the closure of existing in this early-stage segment financing gap. The High-Tech Gründerfonds is part of the "High-Tech Strategy" of the Federal Government.

Fraunhofer Venture

Fraunhofer Venture

© Fraunhofer Venture

Fraunhofer Venture is a central department of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and a partner for founders, start-ups, Fraunhofer institutes, industry and investors.

Fraunhofer Venture is a central department of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and partner for founders, start-ups, Fraunhofer institutes, industry and investors. By providing access to Fraunhofer technologies, infrastructure, and know-how with more than 5200 patent families, it offers start-ups the possibility to faster and better establish their products on the market.

The range of services of Fraunhofer Venture includes comprehensive support and consulting from the idea to the start-up, assistance for finding financing solutions to a possible sale of the company and is backed by different development programs and additional services.

EXIST regularly funds start-up teams from Fraunhofer institutions.

Business Angels Netzwerk Deutschland e.V. (BAND)



Business Angels Netzwerk Deutschland e.V. (BAND) is the association of business angels and their networks. BAND is spokesman for the business angels networks towards politics and the public and also represents the interests of young innovative companies and the interests of business angels. BAND is involved in the entire value chain for the entire ecosystem of start-up financing, organizes exchange of experience and fosters cooperation. BAND is supported by business angels networks, public and private members and sponsors and is funded by the BMWi.

BAND stands for the concept of the "double-wing" business angels who participate in both capital and know-how to young, innovative start-ups and for using their personal network of contacts. Business Angels are at the beginning of the financing chain, where the bottleneck is particularly large. That is why they are of great economic importance. A study by the ZEW from April 2014 shows: The approximately 7,500 business angels in Germany with investments of 650 million euros a year, the most important external sources of financing in the early stages, foloowed by the VC industry with 590 million euros.

Almost all of the 40 business angels networks in Germany, where 1,400 angels are organized, are members of BAND. BAND invites the networks for regular network meetings to share experiences, to define positions and to discuss new developments. When building new networks BAND is at hand to help i.a. with the BAND Starterkit

BAND is the organizer of the "German Business Angels Day", the largest congress for informal venture capital in Germany and Europe, promotes the dialogue of experts (BANDexpertforum) and cares about building a rain Community of Business Angels (BAND Business Angels Community Summit). For sustained professionalization of the business angels market BAND organizes training events (Bandacademy) and offers practical assistance (BAND Best Practice Case and BANDquartel).

Participation requests from start-ups through the central BAND One pager directs BAND on to the individual networks. To ensure transparency of business angels market BAND is responsible for surveys of stakeholders in the business angels market; BAND Brain & Memory is the collection point for all research that is done on business angels.

BAND operates continuously on publicity to further spread the Business Angels concept. BAND maintains contacts with politics, administrations and associations and organizations which support or finance young companies and is committed to improving the framework conditions for business angel investments. So BAND has contributed to the introduction of "INVEST - Subsidy for venture capital" in Germany, to launch the "European Angels Fund" (EAF) as a pilot and to gain the taxation of capital prevented from free float. BAND is closely linked with other national business angels associations and is active member of Europe Business Angels (BAE), the European Federation of National Associations Angels.

BAND's Patron is the BMWi.


Logo BayStartUP

© BayStartUP

BayStartUP organizes renowned Bavarian business plan competitions: Munich Business Plan Competition, Business Plan Competition Northern Bavaria, BPW Swabia and BPW ideenreich South East Bavaria. During these competitions, the start-ups present their business ideas to an expert jury of successful entrepreneurs, investors and business managers. Each participant receives an extensive feedback. The best concepts get cash prizes.

Matching of start-ups and investors

With its 300 active business angels and over 100 institutional investors, BayStartUP runs one of the largest investor and business angel networks in Europe. The team of BayStartUP supports innovative, fast growing startups in finding a suitable investor.

Workshops, Know-how & Coaching

The workshop program includes all relevant topics for a successful founder and entrepreneur: from basic business planning to taxation, law, sails, internationalization etc. The focus of the personal coaching lies in the challenges of founding a company, of business development and financing.

Success stories from Bavaria

In the past financial year, BayStartUP provided over EUR 62 million in capital to 50 start-ups, with financing rounds between EUR 50,000 and EUR 6 million. Companies supported by BayStartUP are active in the market with over 13,100 employees and generate sales of almost EUR 1.4 billion (as of 2017).

Übersicht BayStartUP

© BayStartUP

Businessplan-Wettbewerb Berlin-Brandenburg (BPW)

Logo von BPW


Found a successful company

The Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg (BPW) is Germany’s largest regional start-up initiative. It supports founders in developing their business concepts. In this way, the BPW fosters the foundation of successful and sustainable companies.

The start-ups benefit from over 130 events, which give a good opportunity to deepen the start-up specific knowledge and to use the expertise of over 350 coaches. These offers are provided free of charge.

Participate successfully

The Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg is tailored for founders, who have a good business idea in any industry field and plan to implement it in Berlin or Brandenburg. During the competition the start-up teams may create a business plan or may use the business model canvas for visualizing their business idea. The seminars provided during the competition focus on basic topics for starting a business. Additionally the founders can use personal coaching of industry experts. The best business concepts are awarded prize money. See more details about the BPW on

Förderkreis Gründungs-Forschung e.V. (FGF)

Logo von FGF


The aim of the Förderkreises Gründungs-Forschung e.V. (FGF) is to promote research, teaching and knowledge transfer in relation to Entrepreneurship, Innovation and German Mittelstand. The Association regards itself as a network with a coordinating role in research and teaching.

The FGF e.V.

  • supports the establishment of chairs in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and German Mittelstandruns
  • Working Groups in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and German Mittelstand
  • publishes scientific studies and papers
  • organizes conferences, workshops and congresses on topics relevant to the FGF
  • operates an expert database on topics relevant to the FGForganizes “The Venture” – a business plan competition with a prescribed technology
  • arranges speaker on topics relevant to the FGF

Die Gründungsplattform


The free “Start-up platform” offers tools and advice for startups in Germany. It supports prospective founders during the entire start-up process, from brainstorming and business model development to financing application. It can also be used by EXIST-teams. Many universities use the start-up platform in the entrepreneurship education as well as for applying for the EXIST-funding.

The start-up platform was initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and by the KfW. It was implemented by BusinessPilot.

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