The EXIST Business Start-up Grant

The EXIST Business Start-up Grant supports students, graduates and scientists from universities and research institutes who want to turn their business idea into a business plan. The start-up projects should be innovative technology or knowledge based projects with significant unique features and good commercial prospects of success.

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Terms and Conditions for EXIST Business Start-up Grant

The start-up teams receive an EXIST start-up grant at attractive conditions for a period of 12 months to develop a business plan and prepare for their business start-up with the support of their university or research institution.

The most important prerequisite is that the planned business idea must be an innovative technology-oriented or knowledge-based product with significant unique selling points and good prospects of economic success.
Services are also funded under these conditions. The application is submitted via the university or research institution. You can find out about the milestones of the EXIST funding phase by looking at our exemplary project progression. You can also discover current EXIST start-up projects.

EXIST Business Start-up Grant
EXIST is a funding programme provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Who is supported by the fund?

  • Scientists from public, non-profit

    • research institutes
    • universities
  • University graduates and former academic staff members (up to five years after getting a degree or dropping out).
  • Students who have completed at least half of their studies at the time of applying.
  • Entrepreneur Teams of up to three people. Teams that are made up of a majority of students are only funded in exceptional cases.
  • One of the maximum of three team members may have a qualifying professional education and can be funded as the technical staff or one of the team members may have a degree that is more than five years old.

What will be funded?

  • Innovative technology based start-up projects.
  • Innovative knowledge based services based on scientific findings.

How does the funding work?

  • The grant covers personal living expenses:

    • Entrepreneurs with a doctorate receive 3,000 euro/month
    • Graduates with a university degree receive 2,500 euro/month
    • Students receive 1,000 euro/month
    • Child benefit: 150 euro/month per child
  • Materials and equipment:

    • worth up to 10,000 euro for solo start-ups (for teams max. 30,000 euro)
  • Coaching:

    • 5.000 Euro
  • The maximum period of funding is one year.

What do the university, research institute and entrepreneurs have to achieve?

  • University or research institute

    • is involved in an Entrepreneurial Network.
    • provides the entrepreneur with a mentor, a workplace and guarantees free use of infrastructure.
    • manages the grant
  • Gründer/in

    • receives coaching services from the Entrepreneurial Network.
    • participates in a one-day "Entrepreneurial Personality" Seminar.
    • presents a first draft of the business plan after five months.
    • submits the business plan after ten months.
    • takes on the responsibility of making tax and national insurance payments.

Is it possible to launch the business during the funding phase?

Yes, but the launch should not take place at the beginning of the funding.

Who submits the application?

  • Universities
  • Research institutes

When can the application be submitted?

  • The application may be submitted at any time.

Funding application

Information, documents and support for the application

Read more


The EXIST Business Start-up Grant is a support programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and is co-financed by the European Social Fund.

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