Record value in the awarding of EXIST start-up grants in 2020

April 21, 2021

Despite the Corona pandemic, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) recorded a new record level of applications and approvals for EXIST start-up grants in 2020.

With 426 applications for EXIST start-up grants in 2020, the demand for the BMWi's start-up funding was higher than at any time since its launch in 2007. The number of approved start-up projects was also at a new high of 229. Compared to the previous year 2019, this was an increase of 63 applications and 10 approvals; the approval rate was 54 percent. This shows the first effects of the new start-up culture promotion through EXIST potentials, whose ultimate goal is to increase the number of spin-offs.

Top 10 Grants 2020

University/research institution grant
Technische Universität München 17
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH) 15
Technische Universität Darmstadt 7
Universität Stuttgart 7
Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften München 6
Technische Universität Berlin 6
Universität Potsdam 5
Leibniz Universität Hannover 5
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) 5
Technische Universität Braunschweig 5


The increase in the number of female founders from 16 percent in 2019 to 18 percent in 2020 is also encouraging. The aim of the EXIST Start-up grant is, among other things, to awaken the spirit of female founders and to motivate female students, graduates and scientists to consider entrepreneurial independence as a conceivable career option.

Most of the approvals for the Start-up EXIST grant went to Bavaria (49 approvals out of 89 applications), followed by North Rhine-Westphalia (36 approvals out of 75 applications) and Baden-Württemberg (31 approvals out of 78 applications).

The most popular technology fields in 2020 included software with 150 applications, followed by Internet with 64 applications and communication technologies with 35 applications.

You can find out what startup advisors at the University of Stuttgart, Leibniz Universität Hannover and SRH Hochschule Heidelberg have to say about the current startup scene in our latest article: Founding in times of corona.

Source: Project Management Jülich (PtJ): EXIST statistics

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This image shows Melanie Minderjahn

Melanie Minderjahn


Research Associate, PR Manager

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