EXIST program in Germany | Promoting technology, digital health startups

EXIST program in Germany

EXIST program in Germany for technology, digital health startups

EXIST is a support programme under the umbrella of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

Objectives of EXIST startup programme:

  • To prove the entrepreneurial environment at the universities and all the research institutes.
  • To increase the number and also the success of knowledge-based and technology business startups.
  • To promote long-lasting entrepreneurial culture in both private and public institutions of higher learning.

The BMWi has been giving a wide range of support to potential university graduates, scientists as well as students to prepare their technology and knowledge-based startups.

The primary target groups, therefore, are the university graduates, scientists, and the students.

To achieve the above laid down objectives conclusively, the EXIST programme is structured as follows:

  • EXIST Business Startup Grant: This is a very comprehensive program set to provide financial support to start-ups at the early stage who are usually from universities and other institutions of research. These funds are aimed to help them prepare their innovative technology and knowledge-based start-up projects.
  • EXIST Culture Entrepreneurship: Concerned with offering support to universities to formulate and implement an all conclusive and sustained university-wide strategy for boosting the entrepreneurial spirit and culture.
  • EXIST transfer of Research: This one is concerned with funding for the resource development necessary o prove the start-up technical visibility based on the conducted research and also in the initial stages of preparation which are required for launching a business venture.

However, it is important to note that EXIST is co-financed by the European Social Fund.

Success rate

Since its inception, EXIST has achieved all its objectives and continues to dedicate many resources for the majority to benefit from its programmes. EXIST Start-Up Germany is established with the principal objective of fostering cooperation and exchange between Germany and Israeli entrepreneurs. However, the exact total number of applicants per year is not readily available.

The programme is mainly tailored to support the tech-entrepreneurs from Israeli who want to apply for EXIST Business Start-Up Grant in Germany. The EXIST Business Start-Up Grant provides up to 150,000 EUR in one year and also offers administrative support and coaching per the requirement of each team.

From 1998-2012, The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) offered support to a total of 72 projects at the universities, spending approximately 104 Million Euro in four EXIST phases. The primary goals of this support were:

  • To develop contacts with all those who may be interested in the start-up.
  • Offer education and vocational training to potential entrepreneurs.
  • Get in touch and create networks with those with entrepreneurial interests in the region and most importantly initiate the topic of Start-Up-Program in the curriculum of natural sciences and technical faculties.
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How EXIST support startups?

The EXIST offers its support tailored specifically to each team or an individual. Under the EXIST Business-Start-Up scheme, the entrepreneurs usually are given a grant ranging from 1000-3000 euro per month for one year. The amount varies depending on their degree.

Additionally, they get material worth 10,000 euros for solo start-ups and 30000 for team start-ups. Finances for coaching is 5,000 euros and where applicable child benefit of 150 euro each month.

Here is a breakdown of the funding per month in Euros:

Image courtesy of exist.de

Under the EXIST Transfer of Research, the funding caters for staff expenses up to a maximum of four staff members and 250,000 euro for materials and equipment. The average funding period is in most cases one year and six months, but in some cases, the funding period may be more extended than this.

In the second phase of EXIST funding, the newly founded technological firms are supported with up to 180,000 euros to complete their product design. Also enables them to be able to solicit for more funding externally for their company’s operation.

Qualification criteria for startups

Startup teams that can be up to a maximum of three people. However, one of the team members is required to be a person possessing a recognised vocational qualification. The person may also be one who has fully completed university education and not less than five years ago.

  • Academics and non-university researchers.
  • Students who have completed at least half of their study at the time of application.
  • Graduates or former research assistants (up to not less than five years after leaving the institutes)
  • Specific research and industry areas supported.

The primary research areas are science and technology. This can be supported by the recent moves by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) to establish “EXIST Start-up Germany” to connect technology-oriented entrepreneurs from Israeli, with EXIST being an integral partner of this programme.

This programme is piloted to start in two central technologically growing locations; Berlin and Munich. When it comes to technological startups innovations, these two cities rank exemplary very high.

A report by CBInsights, in 2014, showed Berlin as the leading tech hub, which has continued to dominate the Germany tech for the past three decades. Munich is the second in the table.

Image courtesy of CBinsights

How to apply for EXIST?

The application criteria for EXIST is simple and not complicated as long as you meet the qualifications. The projects outlines are submitted from 1st January to 31st January and from 1st July to 31st July of the current year.

The applications for phase one funding are usually submitted by the research institute or the university. Phase two applications are carried out by the business in the course of formation or by the newly formed enterprise.

Phase I

There are two stages of phase one funding application:

Stage I: Project outline

It is the mandate of the university or a research institute to submit project outlines of the research teams. All applicants are supposed to use Skizze, which is an electronic application system.

Documents required at this stage:

  1. Statement by the Entrepreneurial Network.
  2. Details of the entrepreneurial team.
  3. Work plan: detailed description and time plan for the work packages.
  4. Project description as per outline.
  5. Easy-Skizze.
  6. Statement by the specialist mentor.

Stage II

After the review of the project outline, if favourable, the applicant is requested to hand over a proposal to the jury of experts and also, he is asked to present a formal application.

There are a few documents required at this stage:

  1. Cognizance of the facts relevant to subsidies.
  2. Project application form.

It is essential noting that, in both stages, all the documents are submitted in both electronic forms through the secure online portal and in hard copy, to the project management Julich.

EXIST overview
Website www.exist.de
E-mail ptj-exist-forschungstransfer@fz-juelich.de
Address for applications Research Centre Jülich GmbH
Project Management Jülich (PtJ)
Office Berlin
Post-box: 610247
D-10923 Berlin
Phase I funding applications Phase I funding
Project application form ‘AZK’ Application form

Phase II

Application for funding in this Phase are submitted six months before the end of Phase I.

The following documents accompany the application:

  1. Memorandum of association of the business(MOA)
  2. A thoroughly detailed business plan.
  3. Project application form.
  4. Evidence of financing own contribution.
  5. Cognisance of the facts, relevant to subsidies.
  6. Description of the proposal and work plan required for phase two funding.
  7. Presentation of results of Phase I of funding.

EXIST Start-Up programme has been fundamental in offering support to scientists, graduates and continuing students. It has aided professionals with passion in business and technology, in particular, to realise their dreams. Through its simplified segmentation; EXIST Business Start Up, EXIST Culture of Entrepreneurship, and EXIST transfer of Research, EXIST has tailored its programmes to fit the applicants.

Image credit: www.exist.de

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