Students and research assistants: from university to business foundation

Have you come across an exciting business idea during your studies or while working as a research assistant? Start your own business now.

Students and research assistants bring a lot of creative potential with them and are also up to date with the latest research. This gives them the best possible qualifications to start a business.

Universities are becoming increasingly important for the start-up ecosystem in North Rhine-Westphalia. This is where knowledge and technologies are developed and business ideas created. Most of the companies supported by venture capital come from the university context.

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is well positioned for this: 70 universities and 14 clusters of excellence speak for themselves. Funding programmes increase the rate at which this potential is converted into start-ups.

Overview of the measures

There is a bundle of measures for this:

  • Start-up founders from universities can get special support and advice under the Exzellenz Start-up Center North Rhine-Westphalia (information in German only). To encourage a zest for entrepreneurship in university students, interested parties can contact start-up advisers at universities who provide support for funding applications for programmes in North Rhine-Westphalia and Germany.
  • Start-up teams from universities are being supported directly through the Start-up Transfer NRW funding programme (information in German only). Start-up projects can receive funding of up to 320,000 euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
  • In addition to the traditional funding channels we also offer for start-ups by students and academic staff the EXIST programmes for start-up grants and research transfers provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. They support scientists and students with innovative start-ups. For example, living expenses under the EXIST start-up grant programme are funded for a maximum of one year up to 3,000 euros per month, plus money for coaching sessions or material expenses. Further information can be found here.

With additional individual measures, the start-up procedure for students and research assistants should also be simplified:

  • NRW patent validation programme for overcoming technological hurdles,
  • Standard licence agreement for use by business founders,
  • Option for business founders to take terms off.