The right financing for a university start-up

Your studies are almost over and you have a unique business idea. You are well trained for this and you know exactly: This start-up idea belongs on the street. But as a person who has just graduated from university, you usually do not yet have enough capital to implement the vision.

In this article, the most important steps and points of contact to finance university start-ups and recent graduates who have a good business idea.

Do you want to become self-employed during or after your studies?

The question that students often ask themselves is: Does it make sense to start a business while you are still studying? Basically nothing speaks against it. However, start-ups from the university should, in particular, with regard to the necessary financing some points make aware beforehand:

  • Starting a business is always included Costs tied together. These can range from around 20 euros for a simple business registration to many thousands of euros for the formation of a GmbH. Which legal form is the right one for the business concept depends on many factors. What type of liability should be assumed? What equity is there? How is the founder’s business know-how?
  • Starting a business is always included responsibility tied together. As a founder, you are responsible for the company. This means that the business model is worked out and further developed intensively, since many different subject areas are the responsibility of business founders. As an entrepreneur, you can always make mistakes.
  • The first founding years are no manhood. This saying, which is associated with conventional vocational training: “Apprenticeship years are not master’s years” can also be applied to the first years of business. Sure, there are exceptions within the start-up scene where start-ups generate many millions of euros within a year. But entrepreneurs are more likely to work multiple hours a week, often below the average wage for a salaried worker.

Anyone who decides to become self-employed during their studies should be aware that financial support is possible, but that there are restrictions. Because most funding for alumni and students requires that the founders full-time entrepreneurial are active, i.e. not studying full-time at the same time. It is therefore probably more relaxed and associated with more support options to set up a company after graduation.

But: There is nothing wrong with perfecting the business concept and business plan during your studies. With the degree in hand, founders can start applying for funding.

What financing options are there?

There are many support options for founders from the university context. This support can range from mentoring and advice to financial support in the form of hundreds of thousands of euros. Each type of support is useful and should always be evaluated individually by the respective founder.

Get professional help in creating a business plan

No matter which funding options founders choose, the most important thing when applying for the coveted help is and remains the professionally prepared business plan, including financial planning. In order to receive funding, the financial plan must all important information contain. These include:

There are opportunities for funding if start-ups want to get expert advice. Depending on the federal state, up to 80% of the consulting costs can be reimbursed (subsidy check as a free start-up service). Especially when taking the first steps into self-employment, it is important to avoid mistakes that later cost a lot of money. Experienced start-up consultants can provide professional support here (service tip: coach and consultant search).

incubators and accelerators

There are many accelerators and incubators in Germany. These names sound wild, but actually these terms just mean that something is being “accelerated” and/or “hatched”. In the case of a start-up, these funding programs are designed to help the founders implement their business ideas. This help ranges from financial means in the small to medium budget range, to coaching and mentoring of the founding team, to the provision of equipment for prototyping.

It is important to note here that the financial support is usually earmarked. This means, for example, that a start-up receives a budget of 10,000 euros, but is not necessarily allowed to use this budget for any of the start-up’s needs. It is usually the case that the funds have to be used primarily for the commissioning of external service providers or the production of a prototype.


Scholarships, such as the North Rhine-Westphalia start-up grant, primarily serve to cover the cost of living for a founder. These scholarships usually amount to between 1,000 and 2,500 euros and are linked to the condition that a business start-up is planned and should be implemented within the next twelve months or a start-up has already taken place and this is no more than twelve months in the past lies. To do this, it must be ensured that the activity as a founder is carried out in the main profession. For this it is necessary that founders have to focus on the foundation and first steps as an entrepreneur. Some scholarships can in turn be combined with other funding. However, the combination of funding is a highly individual matter and varies from state to state.


There are certain funding pots for founders who come from the university context, which in turn are fed by the respective federal states as well as the European Union. To the well-known grant programs belong:

State promotional loans

Of course, as a university start-up, you can also register with a founder loan.Normally, as a start-up, you have already taken the above steps in order to be supported with the founding. this has following reason: Promotional banks require collateral and/or equity, which start-ups from the university context usually cannot provide.

Another possibility is to address investors, i.e. venture capitalists. This can quickly put a lot of money in a start-up’s coffers, but it also means that Company shares sold to investors will. This can mean that founders have to give up many shares in the company for comparatively little money right at the beginning of their journey. This can then take revenge in later financing rounds.

Would you like professional advice on creating a business plan as part of founding a start-up? We would be happy to check your individual funding options for appropriate business start-up advice free of charge. You are welcome to use our “Find a consultant” service or fill out our free subsidy check. We will contact you as soon as possible