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Course of the project

The entrepreneurs are given the necessary autonomy during the period of funding so they can put both technical and entrepreneurial aspects of their ideas into practise. The team, Entrepreneurial Network, university or research institute work together in close co-operation to systematically prepare a successful market entry. Below a general overview of the milestones during project funding.

0ESF questionnaire
EXIST monitoring questionnaire (at the beginning of the funding)
1Coaching/materials and equipment expenses plan
3Seminar Entrepreneur Team
5Presentation of preliminary results

Business plan

Evaluation report

Businessplan Evaluation by the entrepreneurial network

EXIST- monitoring questionnaire (at the end of the funding; known as project questionnaire)

12Project conclusion
24, 48, 72EXIST monitoring questionnaire (after end of funding)

Questionnaire for participants regarding the European Social Fund (ESF) project

The following questionnaire collects data on the participants of the European Social Fund (ESF) project. Those in charge of the programme use your details to write reports identified by statutory requirements. Your details are also used to check if project implementation corresponds to the guidelines. Please answer the following questions carefully keeping this in mind. Your details will only be anonymously processed and will not be used for evaluating your person. You will require about 1 minute to fill out the questionnaire. Questions or parts of questions that are greyed out do not need to be filled out for this ESF-survey.

You will find the questionnaire on

Monitoring and evaluation of the ESF intervention period 2014-2020 by the Umfragezentrum Bonn (uzbonn)

In order to receive funding, participants confirm a consent form to have their personal data recorded and complete the ESF questionnaire. The European Union, which provided money for the support, would like to know what happened to the people after the support ended. The data is needed to determine if the money is spent on meaningful actions and if the support was successful and helped the people. In order to know whether the support was also successful in the longer term, some of the participants are now being asked again about their occupational situation. For this purpose, the participants receive an invitation to take part in the survey via SMS or e-mail. The Bonn Survey Center - uzbonn - was commissioned to conduct the survey. The participants selected for the survey receive the name and contact details of a contact person at uzbonn to whom they can address their questions. Further information on the evaluation can be found on the ESF pages.

EXIST Monitoring

On behalf of the BMWi, the Project Management Agency Jülich (PtJ) conducts surveys of all start-up projects or companies founded with EXIST funding.

The BMWi and PtJ are pursuing three fundamental goals with the repeated survey of funded start-up teams at different points in time:

  • First, the data will be used to draw conclusions about the achievement of goals and the effectiveness of the EXIST program.
  • Second, developments from the beginning to the end of the funding phase and beyond will be recorded and traced.
  • Third, the information collected provides a basis for managing and improving the grant program.

Participation in data collection for up to five years after project completion is mandatory for all funded start-up teams.

Personal Data Protection:

Data are processed in accordance with the Federal Data Protection Act and the Basic Data Protection Regulation (legal basis Art. 6 para.1 lit b DSGVO). Collected data will be used exclusively for purposes of internal program monitoring of the PtJ or - in anonymized form - provided for external evaluations or accompanying research on behalf of the BMWi. They are not made available to the public or other third parties.

You can find more information (according to Art. 13 DSGVO) here.

Coaching/materials and equipment expenses plan

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Coaching plan

This is a schedule for the EXIST Business Start-up Grant funding period with concrete information regarding milestones and measures for compiling a business plan. Training measures for the Entrepreneur Team to improve entrepreneurial approach and behaviour of individual members are also included. The list can be extended by a Gantt chart, which displays the time distribution for the period of grant funding. The aim of start-up coaching is to provide an objective and external view of the project on the basis of which the start-up and its specific potential can be developed. As far as possible, the list should show the complete consultation, training and skill building measures required. Consultation for technical matters or for product development as well as training courses for these topics belong to the content of the project and may only be paid for from the funds for materials and equipment.

Materials and equipment plan

The EXIST Business Start-up Grant funding puts up to 30,000 euro for materials and equipment at the disposal of the teams to implement their idea. It is imperative for project accountability that the use of funds be economical and cost-effective (principle of proportionality), showing concrete relevance to the project (acquisitions with a purpose). The university/ research institute is responsible for the acquisitions (General regulations for awarding work or services, maximum amount).

Seminar Entrepreneur Team

The EXIST Business Start-up Grant also includes the participation in a day long "Entrepreneurial Team" seminar so that team members have as much of an objective view as possible of their potential and entrepreneurial soft skills. You get a result, which includes an analysis of your team. Every team member is given his or her personal strength-weakness profile making targeted improvement possible. The aim of the seminar is to help you develop the qualities of your team, flesh out your business proposal as well as support you in developing your potential. It is not a selection procedure.

Advantages of the EXIST "Entrepreneur Team" seminar

Participation brings with it number of advantages:

  • You get an appraisal of the quality of your team and suggestions for personal enhancement.
  • You see what soft skills are necessary in an average day in the life of an entrepreneur.
  • You are confronted with realistic situations and tasks.
  • You get to know your strengths and can improve them if necessary.
  • You get to know your weaknesses and can work on those.
  • You can assess better what sort of role distribution might make more sense in your enterprise in the future (front or back office)
  • You are in a position to see the extent to which your own perceptions tally with those of your observer by comparing the two.
  • You get to know other EXIST scholars who might be important for your personal contact network.

How does the EXIST "Entrepreneurial team" seminar work?

Up to five entrepreneurial teams can participate in the one-day seminar. Their job is to tackle different types of exercises. These might be, for example:

  • presenting a business idea
  • working on case studies
  • working on tasks as a team
  • role play (e.g. discussion with a customer, with an investor)
  • exercises under time pressure

ou will be observed by trainers while absolving the tasks. Under assessment will be, for example, your strengths and weaknesses in teamwork, allocation of tasks and possible gaps in skills, your organizing skills, your ability to persuade others and to cooperate with them, your ability to assert yourself and your argumentation skills, etc.

An online test or questionnaire prior to the seminar gives the trainer an idea of the capabilities of the Entrepreneur Team so that the seminar can be more effective. The result of the seminar comes in the form of oral feedback during a team discussion. Written feedback with a detailed strength-weakness profile and with tips for possible improvement within the team will be sent to every team member a few days later. We guarantee the safekeeping of these personal details at all times.

When will I receive my invitation to the seminar?

You will receive an invitation to participate in a one-day seminar within five months after the funding from the EXIST Business Start-up Grant has begun. Research teams that are funded by EXIST Transfer of Research receive an invitation within the first year of Phase I of funding.

Presentation of Preliminary Results

In order to identify challenges and create solutions to the obstacles arising, the business plan draft as well as the development status of the project is presented in front of and evaluated by the entrepreneurial network. The focus of this presentation should be the concept of the business idea und startup structure, the target market as well as the strategy to enter the market, resulting costumer value, the unique selling points of the product or service, competition and financial strategy. The presentation is a milestone and an opportunity to discuss critical aspects with and may get support by the entrepreneurial networks related to administrative and entpreneurial challenges. The project-management agency will be informed of project status, by sending in the pitch deck and form (‘Bewertung Zwischenstand’) to evaluate the preliminary results.

The subsequent evaluation form (‘Bewertung Zwischenstand’) may be found here.

Business plan

This forms the basis for further work on the business, strategic development and if necessary, the acquisition of follow-up financing. The business plan is presented in the 10th month of the grant funding period. Success or failure generally depends on the care with which the plan was prepared. It is a helpful and sensible tool particularly after the start-up period to see if the business is developing as planned or if any assumptions and strategic decisions need to be rethought. An entrepreneur does not leave his success to chance and is constantly checking, comparing and adjusting. At the same time, the business plan serves as a final project report. In addition, a final evaluation report and questionnaire on project development are required to document the progress of the project for the sponsors. You find the relevant templates here.

Project conclusion

After twelve months, the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant ends. Now the way is paved for founding your own start-up.
During the funding phase, you will have developed a business plan that will serve as a strategic basis for the further development of your company. The evaluation of your business plan by the project sponsor also shows whether the objectives of the funding policy have been achieved. The result will be sent to you and your university or research institution.

Project conclusion

For the formal handling of the project, a proof of use must be prepared in cooperation with the university/research institution and the founding team. It shows that the project was carried out as envisaged in the idea paper and the coaching and material expenditure plan. Project report as well as business plan serve as proof of this substantive documentation. The proof of expenditure is provided by the voucher list, which was already used for the coaching and material expenditure plan. A corresponding template can be found here .

EXIST Alumni

Subsequent entrepreneurs profit from the experiences of previous generations of entrepreneurs. In addition, positive as well as negative success stories signal to politicians, business, universities/research institutes and the start-up community that they should actively participate in shaping business spin-outs from universities. It is of particular interest for the EXIST programme to keep track of the progress of past funded teams and to document this progress. Up to five years after project completion, all teams are sent a questionnaire once a year and are asked about the status of their business. This is how a medium term viral EXIST alumni community is being established.

What funding is available following the EXIST Business start-up grant?

Innovative and high-growth start-ups require follow-up financing following the EXIST start-up grant. This can be an investment from a business angel, a publicly funded investment fund, a venture capital fund or a family office. Finding a suitable investor takes time. You should therefore deal with the topic of financing at an early stage during the EXIST phase in order to avoid a financing gap after EXIST.

Talk to the start-up network at your university or research institution about this. Your contact person can tell you about suitable programs. In addition, the start-up networks usually hold pitch events at which you can make contact with investors. You can also use the federal, state and EU funding database and the federal government's funding advisory service to conduct your own research into suitable funding programs.

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Download templates

In our download area you will find all the documents you will need in the course of the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant.

To the downloads



Research Centre Jülich GmbH
Project Management Jülich (PtJ)
Office Berlin
Postcode 610247
10923 Berlin
Phone: 030 20199-411

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