The new programme "EXIST-Potentials" supports German universities and their entrepreneurial networks in further developing a sustainable, university-based culture of entrepreneurship. It is part of the funding initiative of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy "EXIST-Culture of Entrepreneurship".

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Purpose of EXIST Potentials

The purpose of "EXIST-Potentials" is to implement an active and visible culture of entrepreneurship at universities and to create and enhance the necessary framework for innovative and fast-growing university-based start-ups. This should ensure the creation of sustainable jobs in the medium run.

EXIST Potentials targets all universities in Germany that would like to leverage existing potentials in university-based entrepreneurial support. The funding programme has three thematic priorities:

  • to qualify as a university for start-ups in the long term,
  • to emerge as coordinator of a regional start-up network within a regional association for start-up support,
  • to distinguish itself as a start-up university in international competition.


Leverage of potentials
The best-practice examples of the EXIST- Entrepreneur Universities should be shared with other universities. It will especially help small and medium-sized universities in building their own support structures for university-based start-ups. As a result the support for start-ups will become more professional and additional entrepreneurial potential at universities will be identified.

Regional networking
High-tech start-ups and a sustainable culture of entrepreneurship need well developed networks. EXIST supports the building of such entrepreneurial networks between universities, research institutions, industry partners, financial institutions and other stakeholders.

International leadership
German universities have a good potential to become a global player in university-based startups. It means to early support selected start-ups in entering international markets and e.g. in building international teams. Furthermore, the German universities should stronger network and cooperative with foreign universities, which have advanced experience in supporting university based start-ups

The funding takes place in two phases: a concept phase (up to six months) and a project phase (four years). The programme ends in 2023. Further details can be found in the programme directive (in German)..

EXIST-geförderte Hochschulen

EXIST-funded universities

All universities that have received or are currently receiving funding within the framework of EXIST

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