Gründungsstipendium NRW

€ 1,200 per Month per Year for Innovative Ideas

The Gründungsstipendium NRW grant (start-up grant provided by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia) offers you the opportunity to get your innovative business idea off the ground and become part of North Rhine-Westphalia’s regional start-up community. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action, and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIKE) supports every founder who is planning to set up a business, or has just started this process, by providing a monthly grant of € 1,200 for a maximum of one year to support them in taking their first steps into the world of entrepreneurship. You will also be given the opportunity to exchange ideas through start-up networks and receive guidance from individual coaching.

Be it a product, process, or service, it is important that the idea is innovative and forward-thinking. Through innovative, forward-thinking ideas, you can invent new products and fill gaps in the market, or optimize processes and services in ways that benefit people in your region. Your idea can relate to any topic – an IT solution for administration, a new sorting system for logistics, improved protective clothing for industry, or medical devices for dementia sufferers – every good idea pays off!

With the Gründungsstipendium.NRW grant, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action, and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia gives young and budding entrepreneurs the freedom to pursue their dream of self-employment, to network, and to be coached. If you have only just developed your idea, are about to launch, or are a little further along in the process and have launched your start-up within the past 12 months, then apply for the Gründungsstipendium.NRW grant now!

the process of applying for Gründungsstipendium.NRW
© Projektträger Jülich, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Who can receive funding?

Funding is available for individual founders or teams of up to three people, all of whom are over the age of eighteen and have both their registered place of residence and primary place of residence within North Rhine-Westphalia. Another prerequisite is that founders must either be planning to become self-employed by setting up a new business in North Rhine-Westphalia within the next 12 months, or have already done so within the past 12 months. The time frame for setting up the business starts one year before the application is submitted and ends one year after. Interested applicants who are not German or a citizen of an EU member state should note that they need to hold a valid residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment or a permanent residence permit. The supplementary sheet to the residence permit must not contain any restrictions that preclude the applicant from working full-time on a start-up business.

How does the funding process work?

Once funding has been approved, founders receive € 1,200 per month, per person, for a maximum period of one year. The money can be used to cover living expenses as well as to invest in the start-up. In addition, beneficiaries receive coaching from accredited start-up networks to support and guide them through the process of setting up their business. These networks have relevant experience in supporting start-ups and assist founders in building contacts within the regional start-up community as well as with established businesses and investors. The assigned coaches advise founders on an individual basis, and together with each founder, they create mentoring road maps tailored to their business ideas.

Where and how can I apply?

To be able to apply for a start-up grant, you must first contact one of the accredited start-up networks (Gründungsnetzwerke). Founders are free to choose the network. A map of the area and an alphabetical list show the accredited start-up networks or start-up network partners in North Rhine-Westphalia. This list is updated on a continuous basis to ensure that founders can benefit from comprehensive quality support at a convenient local location.

To facilitate close cooperation and exchange, it is recommended to look for a start-up network located close to where you intend to set up your business. The start-up network advises founders and guides them through the subsequent application process.

After an initial consultation with the start-up network, the founders prepare an informative concept proposal in which they present their business idea, outline the current market situation and their own competitive opportunities, and assess the feasibility of their business idea and its potential for success. They also provide a brief introduction into their own background and their business-specific skills and capabilities. After they have submitted this concept proposal to their start-up network, the founders are invited to pitch their idea to the network’s jury. Founders are permitted to pitch their idea before different juries or to different networks in exceptional circumstances only, and they must have the prior approval of the first jury. In other words, if a founder’s initial pitch is unsuccessful, they may have an opportunity to rework their pitch and present it again, however they must do so before the same jury. Jury meeting dates are regularly published on the website here.

Gründungsnetzwerke in NRW

What happens during the jury meeting?

The jury decides whether or not a founder is recommended for funding. The jury is appointed by the supervising start-up network and consists of three to six members from the surrounding region who have relevant start-up experience. The jurors base their decision on the previously submitted concept proposal as well as a presentation given by the founder team during which all members present their idea. Directly after the pitch, founders have the opportunity to answer specific questions from the jury. The jury assesses the team and its start-up idea based on the following criteria: the character of the founder/founder team, the innovativeness of the business idea, feasibility, customer benefits/demand, and the target market/sector/competition.

The jury’s decision on whether or not to recommend funding is communicated promptly through the supervising network. Within four weeks of the jury meeting, the selected founders should submit an application for funding to Project Management Jülich using the Wirtschafts-Service-Portal.NRW. To register, a personal identification document with an activated online identification function (ID card, electronic residence permit or eID card for EU citizens) is required. Once the full application has been submitted, a decision is made in relation to funding.

Overview of the application process

  1. The founder contacts an accredited start-up network.
  2. They prepare an informative concept proposal.
  3. They pitch their business idea and concept proposal to the jury.
  4. If the jury decides tu issue a funding recommendation, the founders can submit their official application via the Wirtschafts-Service-Portal.NRW.
  5. Once funding has been approved, the 12-month funding period begins.

During the funding period

Beneficiaries should regularly meet with their coach during the funding period to discuss their progress and any potential difficulties with their start-up project. If the business has not yet been founded at the time of application, it must be founded within six months of the start of the funding period. This entails having the founders named on the business’ trade register entry, its initial articles of association, or on a duplicate of its initial commercial register certificate.
The grant is paid bimonthly. Payments need to be requested in advance, every two months. For grants issued from 01.10.2023 the requests are made via the Wirtschafts-Service-Portal.NRW. If the beneficiary’s address or bank account details change during the grant period, or if changes are made to the founder team, Project Management Jülich should be informed immediately.

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