The EXIST Research Transfer programme supports outstanding research-oriented startup projects that have links to expensive and high-risk development work. It consists of two phases. In the first phase, the economic and technical usefulness of the scientific work is established and further developed as well as preparations made for the founding of the company. In the second phase, the focus is on launching business operations and securing external follow-on financing of the company.
Support is conditional on the transfer of scientific know-how to the company. As a rule, this means that during the period in which support is provided, the scientist is required to devote all his energies to the project. Besides scientific expertise, the team must be able to demonstrate business skills, which should be an integral part of the team.
At the initial stage of preparing to submit an application, possible patent law-related questions must be discussed and clarified with the employer’s technology transfer units.
There are two stages to the application procedure. In the first stage, a project description is drawn up and evaluated by experts. The written proposal covers the main aspects of the description of the product, the market and the team. In the event of a positive evaluation of the proposal, the project leader receives an invitation to present his project to a jury. Thereafter, the final decision is made about whether to grant approval.
In all, three scientific positions and one post for a business expert can be applied for under the EXIST Research Transfer programme. These are paid as scientific workers in accordance with the collective wage agreement for civil servants of the federal states (TV-L). In addition, equipment worth up to €250,000 can be applied for. The first phase of the research transfer is limited to 24 months. In well-founded individual cases, an application can be made for an extension.
Once the 24 month-period is over, participants can apply for a second stage of the research transfer programme, which foresees the market entry of the product. This stage provides for another 18 months of funding and up to €150,000. In the second stage, the company receiving support must itself make a 25% contribution – that is, up to €50,000. A positive evaluation of the first phase by the project promoter is a prerequisite for the extension.
The closing dates for the submission of applications for the EXIST Research Transfer are 31 January and 31 July of each year. Funding can be expected to begin half a year later. Further information about this funding instrument of the Federal Ministry for the Economy can be found on the web-pages of EXIST.