Connecting with the start-up ecosystem is a crucial pillar of our interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach. Therefore, we are involved in numerous regional as well as international projects.

Overview of current projects

The University of Stuttgart successfully took part in the university competition EXIST Potentiale in December 2019 – organized by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) – and now the project Exi+ - Regionale Vernetzung has been given the green light.

The state is investing 1.6 million euros until the end of 2022 in the expansion of the cross-university decentralised start-up platform as part of the state initiative Gründermotor. "The start-up potential of the research and science location in Baden-Württemberg is enormous. With the Gründermotor, we are pooling the necessary forces and building a decentralised platform together with our partners in the state to leverage synergies and raise the topic of start-ups to a new level," says Prof. Dr. Alexander Brem.

The University of Stuttgart was successful in the EU call for Innovative Training Networks (ITN) with the EINST4INE project. The research and innovation project, funded under the European Union's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Horizon 2020 grant programme, is looking for prospective PhD students who are ready to tackle the fundamental challenges of future industrial systems.

The aim of this project, funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg, is to inspire interested students to become entrepreneurs. The aim is to create the conditions for a successful application for start-up-related funding programmes later on. To this end, students will further develop their idea over several months as part of a supervised "Entrepreneurs in Residence" programme. In addition, these entrepreneurs will share their experiences in the subject groups or subject societies, but also in selected lectures/seminars of the faculties of the University of Stuttgart that are weak in start-ups. In doing so, they should primarily present their own idea and their further course of action in order to serve as a close, practical example for other students and thus spread the idea of entrepreneurial activity.

The approved funding covers the years 2021 and 2022.

The most promising, technology-oriented companies emerge from the start-ups of doctoral students. Nevertheless, only a fraction of them found their own company, as they are usually not taught an entrepreneurial mindset. With the project "Elements 4 Founding", funded by the Vector Foundation, the University of Stuttgart is closing this gap. The goal is to sharpen the perception of doctoral students as entrepreneurs and to create an offer that accompanies them on their way to founding a company.

The IKILeUS project is therefore designed to combine the existing AI expertise of many collaborating departments in order to both communicate AI to the breadth of the student body in an interdisciplinary view and to use AI-based technologies in teaching to relieve the burden on teachers and to improve teaching. Topics will be addressed with a focus on specific courses and software solutions, while simultaneously looking at roll-out potential to additional user groups and areas.

More information

Together with ARENA2036 and the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science (ENI), the Green Office  at the University of Stuttgart has submitted a funding application to the Climate Innovation Fund of the state capital Stuttgart. The Greenesto project receives almost 100,000 euros in funding for its innovative workshop format in the field of climate protection.

More information

Information on the individual projects

Elements4Founding - Let science make the world a better place

Elements4Founding is a project of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science at the University of Stuttgart. The goal is to develop a holistic, sustainable approach to raising awareness and qualifying doctoral students and post-docs for the topic of entrepreneurship within three years, starting in summer 2022.

On the one hand, PhD students and post-docs should be motivated to perceive the path as a possible career path, and on the other hand, they should be taught a set of entrepreneurship methods in order to be able to transfer and commercialize scientific breakthroughs. Currently, only a fraction of the innovation potential of university research is transferred to the economy and society.

Existing approaches at universities mostly focus on the target group of students and there are hardly any validated approaches that explicitly address PhD students and post-docs. Therefore, a best-practice approach for entrepreneurship education programs at universities for PhD students and post-docs is to emerge from the accompanying research to the project.

The Elements4Founding project cooperates with the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) and is carried out in close collaboration with various offices of the University of Stuttgart, the start-up officers, the EXIST team, and the TTI (Technology Transfer Initiative). The project is financed by the Vector Foundation.

Interested parties can contact directly

Marcel Werle:

Kathrin Lichius:


Exi+ - Regionale Vernetzung

The University of Stuttgart successfully took part in the university competition EXIST Potentiale in December 2019 – organized by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) – and now the project Exi+ - Regionale Vernetzung has been given the green light.

With this project, the University of Stuttgart aims to improve and intelligently network its scope in the field of entrepreneurship in one of Germany's most innovative regions. A total of 1.6 minion euros had been put aside for this over the next 4 years, to help fund a growing alliance in the Stuttgart region. The strong connections forged will help to counter competition and encourage cooperation

"The true potential lies in networking", states Prof. Peter Middendorf, Vice Rector for Knowledge and Technology Transfer. “Our goal is to improve the visibility of the University of Stuttgart's support network, or anyone interested in business start-ups, by cooperating with important parties in the region.“

"Networking begins in your head", says Prof. Alexander Brem, who founded the Institute of Entrepreneurship at the University of Stuttgart in January 2020, and who is a great believer in developing a close connection between theory and practical experience. “We believe in cultivating a cooperative start-up culture in teaching, transfer and research, in order to realize our full potential for start-ups“, says the Head of the Endowed Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship in Technology and Digitalization, and digitalization, supported by funds from Daimler in the Daimler Foundation.

Based on existing support offers, an alliance for Entrepreneurship Stuttgart will be developed to establish cooperative measures such as consultations standards, community building, meeting points and branding, as well as seamless assistance for start-up projects.

The main protagonists involved in the cooperation for Entrepreneurship Stuttgart are the University of Stuttgart and the Hochschule der Medien. "Innovation takes place at interfaces. I am happy that this new cooperative project will give us the opportunity to create new spaces for such interfaces." Says Nils Högsdal, Vice Rector for Innovation at the Hochschule der Medien.

The cooperation between these two partners in other projects has already resulted in the development of several successful and sustainable formats – such as the joint master’s in Intra and Entrepreneurship. Hartmut Rösch, Director of the Generator Startup Center at HdM, is convinced that, "this new cooperative project and particularly the collaborative consultation activities will soon bear fruit and lead to more and more sustainable science-based start-ups on the Stuttgart campus."


Gründermotor Projekt – Plattform for Entrepreneurship Education

The state is investing 1.6 million euros in the expansion of the cross-university decentralized startup platform by the end of 2022 as part of the state's Gründermotor initiative. "The start-up potential of the research and science location in Baden-Württemberg is enormous. With the Gründermotor, we are pooling the necessary forces and building a decentralized platform together with our partners in the state to leverage synergies and raise the topic of startups to a new level," says Prof. Dr. Alexander Brem. 

Gründermotor image film

Source: Vimeo
Video transcription

An initiative from science, business and politics

Initiated in 2018 by the state government, Vector Informatik, the University of Stuttgart and Pioniergeist and completed in the inner circle by FESTO, STIHL and the Stuttgart Media University, the Gründermotor initiative has made a name for itself nationwide. The focus of all activities is on building scalable startups as the foundation of tomorrow's digital SMEs under the motto: Next Generation Mittelstand. Gründermotor identifies the most promising talents and startups across all topics and universities in order to accompany them to investment maturity and develop them further together with its partners.

Hybrid structure

The driving institutions are Gründermotor GmbH & Co. KG and the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science at the University of Stuttgart. Together, the technology and knowledge transfer via spin-offs from the universities into the economy and investor landscape is to be expanded. The contact for business and investors is Gründermotor GmbH & Co. KG. The Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science at the University of Stuttgart represents the state's universities and is responsible for public partners. Together, new cooperation concepts and joint value creation are to be used to create direct access to both worlds in order to consistently support startups as innovation drivers in Baden-Württemberg. The aim of the aforementioned funding is in particular the development of an overarching research and teaching platform in the field of entrepreneurship education.

Collaborative research and teaching in entrepreneurship education

Complementary to the existing start-up support activities of the state, supra-regional formats such as the excellence program Meisterklasse, matchmaking formats and the Academic Seed Accelerator Program (ASAP) are to be expanded. Together with the offerings of the university partners and those of the state accelerators, a consistent and structured learning platform for founders is to be created. In addition, further training courses for coaches and lecturers are to be offered in parallel within the framework of train-the-trainer and co-mentoring. On the basis of the Gründermotor network, supra-regional exchange offers for researchers and teachers in the field of entrepreneurship will be developed and supported.

Collective visibility for the Gründerland BW

The Baden-Württemberg-wide platform is intended to generate a collective visibility that gives the already excellent start-up initiatives a broader reach and actively promotes young programs. The goal is to create a startup network that is visible beyond Baden-Württemberg's borders, in which as many Baden-Württemberg universities and research institutions as possible work together with partners from science, business and society. More than 100 institutions from the fields of business and science are now partners in the initiative. Under the common motto "Next Generation Mittelstand", the goal is to jointly shape entrepreneurs and start-ups from Baden-Württemberg into sustainable growth companies.


Find the project website here


The University of Stuttgart was successful in the EU tender for "Innovative Training Networks" (ITN) with the EINST4INE project.

A new research and innovation project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant scheme is on the search for budding doctoral researchers ready to embrace the fundamental challenges of future industrial systems.

EINST4INE (the European Training Network for InduStry Digital Transformation across Innovation Ecosystems) is a €4M research initiative addressing some of the gaps and challenges faced by industries adapting to the digital revolution.

In a virtual event on 8 and 10 February 2021, the consortium of European and Australian partners officially launched EINST4INE’s 48-month programme.

With world-leading expertise in the areas of Open Innovation, Industry 4.0, digital transformation, and innovation ecosystems, the EINST4INE team will develop new methods, skills, concepts and roadmaps to guide businesses towards digital transformation.

The project’s comprehensive research agenda and multi-disciplinary approach will lead to tangible outputs and outcomes relevant to start-ups, large firms, low- to high-tech industries, as well as enterprises with service or product-service offerings.

Worldwide, companies have committed trillions of dollars to the digital technologies transforming our everyday lives – from how we do business and purchase products to how we manage our personal finances – though not necessarily successfully.

That is because the challenge lies not only within the implementation of digital transformation, but in the complementary shift and innovation in business planning and strategy required for the new technologies to deliver their full potential.

EINST4INE’s forthcoming recruitment campaign will see the appointment of 15 high-performing, early-stage researchers ready to tackle the real-world challenges faced by industry by expanding their expertise in innovation and technology management. 

The project’s programme of research training and development will build the cohort’s ability to navigate an evolving business landscape increasingly shaped by innovations such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and big data.

Through project-based research, their investigations will span the human side of digital transformation, management, new technologies, and innovation ecosystems.

EINST4INE’s doctoral researchers will become future leaders, experts, and strategists of business and digital transformation – equipped with the hybrid tech-digital behavioural skills and cutting-edge knowledge to enable companies to benefit from digital innovation.

The consortium:

EINST4INE is coordinated by RMIT Europe (Spain). RMIT Europe is the European hub of RMIT University (Australia), a global university of technology, design and enterprise. 

The EINST4INE consortium comprises RMIT Europe (Spain), Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT (Finland), Aarhus University (Denmark), University of Cambridge (UK), Universität Stuttgart (Germany), Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Italy) and Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (Italy), as well as 15 industry and two academic partnering organisations: RMIT University (Australia) and the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley (USA).

Funding acknowledgment:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956745.


Results reflect the author's view only. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.



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Melanie Minderjahn

M. A.

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