This programme aims at improving the entrepreneurial environment at universities and research institutes. It also aims at increasing the number and success of technology and knowledge based business start-ups.
EXIST is the follow-up to the programme of the same name in the 2007-2013 ESF programming period.

The EXIST programme comprises three schemes:

  • The EXIST Transfer of Research funds outstanding research-based start-up projects that are associated with complex, high-risk development work.
  • The EXIST Business start-up grant funds the preparation of innovative start-ups at universities and research institutions, particularly the creation of a viable business plan and the development of marketable products and services.
  • The EXIST Culture of Entrepreneurship module is implemented in the form of a competition entitled "The University of Entrepreneurs". The aim is to develop and implement university-wide overall strategies to establish a culture of entrepreneurship and encourage more entrepreneurial spirit at universities.

Target group

  • Research teams at universities and non-university research institutions - maximum of three scientists and technical assistants - and one person with business expertise six months after the project launch (transfer of research).
  • Nascent business starters, start-up teams who are junior academic staff, university graduates or students. The university or the research institution applies for and receives the funding (business start-up grant).
  • Public and private universities in Germany involved in the development and implementation of an overall strategy for business start-ups. Sub-contracted co-operation partners can also be included in the funding (culture of entrepreneurship).

Profile of the programme

Target group
  • Start-up entrepreneurs
  • Universities

Start-up projects from universities and non-university research institutions

Number of projects


Implementation period

2014.12.09 - 2023.12.31

  • Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
Funding priority

A: Promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility

Additional Information

web­site of pro­gramme


Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz

Oliver Hunke
Referat VIIC 4

Scharnhorststrasse  34-37
10115 Berlin