Founding spirit

250 guests from 142 German universities met at BTU on June 20-21 to exchange ideas about start-ups at the EXIST workshop organized by the German Federal Ministry of Economics.

EXIST works with around 200 universities and start-up networks throughout Germany. In order to strengthen the exchange of ideas and good practice approaches in start-up consulting at universities, EXIST workshops are held twice a year. They serve as a joint exchange of university representatives with experts, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) and Project Management Jülich.

The focus of the current workshop at the BTU is on "Sustainably securing structures, concepts, instruments and sources of funding". In presentations and working groups, the participants will discuss, among other things, how the start-up support structures created at universities can be maintained in the long term. In addition, parallel sessions will deal with current and strategic topics, e.g. "Sustainability in the network", "External sources of financing", "Artificial intelligence as an EXIST focus" or "Empowering women entrepreneurs".

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is currently funding 142 universities, 101 of which are collaborative projects. In his keynote speech, Dr. Stefan Drews from the BMWK's "Domestic Guarantees, Innovative Start-ups" department emphasized that the networking idea is central to the EXIST program. He added that the goal in the coming years is also to promote women for more diversity in the startup teams, even though an increase in female participation is already evident: while the share of women in EXIST startup grants was still 13 percent in 2018, it was already 20.6 percent in 2021.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has funded a total of 459 start-up projects through the EXIST program at German universities in the first funding phase until the end of 2021. The Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg is one of these funded universities - among others with the joint project "Startup Revier EAST", for which the BTU and the TH Wildau have received around 4.5 million euros in funding.

With the project "Startup Revier EAST | Entrepreneurs and Academics, Skills and Technologies", TH Wildau and BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg aim to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit in South Brandenburg and Lusatia by combining regionally focused and regionally based startup support, education and networking. Another key start-up project is the BTU Start-up Service, which has 224 initial consultations and 124 participants in qualification measures in the current funding period (2018 - 2022). Four EXIST teams are currently being supported and six are in preparation. In addition, the start-up service can look back on four successful start-ups.


EXIST aims to improve the start-up climate at universities and non-university research institutions and to increase the number and success of technology-oriented and knowledge-based start-ups. For this reason, the BMWK supports university graduates, scientists and students in preparing their technology-oriented and knowledge-based start-ups. In addition, EXIST has been promoting a lively and sustainable start-up culture at public and private universities in competitions since 1998.


Katrin Erb
Abteilung Wissens- und Technologietransfer
T +49 (0) 355 69-2802


Ilka Seer
Bereich Präsident*in
T +49 (0) 355 69-3612
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[Translate to Englisch:] Der Hauptberufliche Vizepräsident für Forschung und Transfer Prof. Michael Hübner während seiner Begrüßungsrede (Foto: BTU)
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