Founders' Scholarship for startups - STARTPLATZ

Gründerstipendium NRW

Gründerstipendium NRW - Apply now!

Receive 1,000 euros per month for a year for innovative ideas!

The Gründerstipendium NRW provides the opportunity to kick-start your innovative business idea and enter the startup scene. The Ministry of Economics, Innovation, Digitization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia offers young and aspiring companies a monthly stipend of 1,000 euros for a maximum of one year, giving them the freedom to develop their dream of self-employment, network and receive coaching. If you have already developed initial ideas, are about to start a company, or have taken a step further and launched a startup in the past 12 months, then the Gründerstipendium NRW is suitable for you.  
Any community team member can apply for the Gründerstipendium NRW STARTPLATZ, the largest startup incubator in NRW.
Here you can directly book your membership.

For that, the STARTPLATZ offers:
  • Access to more than 100 experts and mentors
  • Access to our Slack workspace with more than 2,000 members
  • Access to the internal STARTPLATZ exchange area
  • Opportunities to exchange with other founders and interested parties

    Applicant Guide

    In the following sections, you will learn how to apply for the Gründerstipendium NRW at STARTPLATZ, how a jury session works, and what happens afterwards.

    1. Current Dates & Information
    2. From Idea to Jury Session
    3. Required Content for Your Application
    4. Your Application
    5. The Jury Session
    6. Decision
    7. Funding Application
    8. During the Funding Period
    9. After the Funding Period


    1. Current Dates & Information

    At STARTPLATZ, we hold a jury session every two months.
    • Next jury session: March 30, 2023
    • Application start: January 27, 2022
    Applications will be considered in the order in which they are received. Once this order is reached, the application form will be closed until after the session.
    Other dates for jury sessions in 2023:
    • Thu., May 25, 2023, 12:30-14:30
    • Thu., July 20, 2023, 12:30-14:30


    2. From Idea to Jury Session

    To present your idea in a jury session, you must first meet the formal funding requirements and have a Community Team Membership. Additionally, you must present your project in a preliminary pitch and submit your application. The order of the preliminary pitch and application is not important. You can register for the preliminary pitch first and then submit your application or vice versa, as long as you meet the deadlines (see "1. Current Dates & Information"). Here are the most important details for each step of the process:
    • Eligibility requirements
      General information about the Gründerstipendium NRW and the eligibility criteria you must meet can be found here: FUNDING REQUIREMENTS.
    • Preliminary pitch
      Teams must participate in our online format "Feedback on Your Startup Idea" before participating in a Gründerstipendium NRW jury session at STARTPLATZ. This is a good opportunity for you to practice your pitch and refine any points of criticism before the jury session. You can find all the information about the format and registration here. Please register early as there may be waiting times! To ensure you have enough time to implement the feedback before the jury pitch, your participation in the preliminary pitch must take place no later than the week before the jury session
    • By the way: Even if you take part in this before you apply to get general feedback on your idea, this counts as your preliminary pitch.
    • Application

      The application is exclusively done online through the form below on this page. The required contents of your application are discussed in more detail in section "3. Required content for your application". Please answer all questions on the checklist.

      We will review your idea paper for completeness. If one or more of the aspects listed below have not been addressed in the idea paper, we will eliminate your application from the race and inform you. You will then have the opportunity to improve your application. As soon as your idea paper is complete, you are welcome to reapply - as usual via the form below.

    • Invitation to the jury meeting
      If you have fulfilled all three requirements on our part - that is, participated in a feedback session, have a Community Team Membership, and submitted your complete application documents to us, we will invite you to the next available jury meeting.

    3. Necessary Contents for Your Application

    To help you prepare your application thoroughly and not miss anything, we have created a checklist of must-have contents for your application:
    • Name of the company/venture

    • Contact details of up to 3 founders
      Please only provide the contact details of the founders who are applying for the Gründerstipendium NRW. All other co-founders and team members can be listed in point 5 below.
    1. Executive Summary
      A short, concise, easily understandable and meaningful summary of the business idea, customer or market benefits, and future prospects.

    2. Business idea
      You can find more information about different business models here.
      • What specific problem or need does the project address?
      • How will the problem be solved?
      • How can money be earned with the business idea (business model)?
      • What is the customer benefit?

    3. Product or service
      • What is the unique selling point of the product or service?
      • What development steps still need to be taken?
      • How high is the degree of innovation?
      • How new is the product or service?

    4. Industry, market, and competition
      You can find information about industry, market, and competition here.
      • In which industry/sector do you classify your business?
      • Who are the customers for the product or service?
      • Which market is to be reached? How large is the market?
      • How is the problem currently being solved?
      • Who offers similar competition approaches?
      • Who are possible partners?

    5. Founder team
      • What education, experience, and competencies does the founding team have?
      • Do they contribute to the realization of the business idea?
      • Are there any other supporters?

    • Gründerstipendium NRW
      • How can the Gründerstipendium NRW support your planned startup project?
      • How and for what purposes should the funds be used?
      • In which areas do you need support from your coach?

    • Pitch deck for the jury session
      Send us your pitch deck to further illustrate your project. Please upload it as a PDF and suitable for a 5-minute pitch (PDF name: Name of the company/project_GS).
      Do you want to work a little more on your pitch deck? No worries! Here are a few tips for creating your deck. The pitch deck that you upload with your application does not have to be the same one you later show to the jury. So you can continue to work on it and simply share your latest deck via screen share during the jury session.

    4. Your application

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    5. The jury session

    Every founding member must be present at the pitch, even those who are not applying for the scholarship. In a five-minute pitch, you will have the opportunity to convince us of your idea. Afterward, the jury has 10 minutes to ask questions.    

    6. Decision

    Your project will be evaluated based on the following dimensions:
    • Innovativeness of the business idea
    • Targeted market, industry, and competition
    • Customer benefit and need
    • Feasibility and perspective of the startup idea
    • Founder personality/founding team
    The decision to select a project for funding also takes into account whether funding is necessary. The juries evaluate the projects using a standardized evaluation form to ensure equal treatment of all applicants. You will be notified in the days following the jury session of the outcome of your application. If your application is unsuccessful, you will receive feedback from our jury and, if your idea has developed accordingly, you are welcome to apply to us again. If your application is successful, you will receive a recommendation letter from our jury, be assigned a coach, and receive all the important information and instructions for the next steps.  

    7. Funding application

    If you have successfully passed the jury session, you will receive an email with your recommendation letter, the assigned coach, and a link to the application tool from the Project Management Jülich (PtJ). The application should be submitted within four weeks. Each applicant must submit a separate application as it is a person-specific funding. The application process in this tool takes between 15-20 minutes. Please have the following information and documents ready:
    • Contact and account information
    • Copy and paste answers from your idea paper (which can be viewed in the confirmation of your application)
    • Declaration of the applicant (template)
    • Recommendation letter
    • Name of the coach (in consultation with us)
    • If applicable, commercial register extract/trade registration (if the company has already been founded)
    • Identification document
    • If applicable, residence permit
    • If applicable, work permit
    If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the contact person at PtJ. After the application has been received in full, it will be approved within the next three months and the funding will start. Please contact your coach by email as soon as you receive your positive funding decision. He or she will inform you about the next date for a group coaching session and will be available to answer any questions you may have.  

    8. During the funding period

    Your coach will work with you to create a coaching plan for the duration of the funding period. He or she will assist you in developing the business concept, conduct an analysis of the need for further intensive consulting on specific issues, and provide further consulting according to the action plan in the startup network or by independent consultants. During the funding period, you must apply for the next installment every two months (template)  

    9. After the funding

    No later than fifteen months after the start of the implementation period, a utilization report must be submitted to the approval agency. The utilization report consists of a substantiated report checked and approved by the coach, containing a description of the development of the startup idea, and in the case of post-startup funding, a description of the economic development of the company and its prospects, as well as a confirmation by the scholarship recipient that the granted funds were used for the implementation of the startup project. The templates for the report and the utilization report can be found here.  

    Any more questions?

    Do you have any more questions that we have not been able to answer yet? Then please feel free to write to us at  


    STARTPLATZ was founded in 2012 and is a startup incubator and accelerator with locations in Cologne and Düsseldorf and a meeting place for the Rhineland startup scene. On around 4,500 sqm in Cologne's Mediapark and 1,900 sqm in Düsseldorf's Media Harbour, an ecosystem has emerged that provides up-and-coming startups and innovative companies with space to grow, consulting and coaching, workshops & events, and access to the large network. More than 300 startups have already worked on their business ideas here, over 150 million euros have been invested in them, and more than 200 teams have been supported in the accelerator. Together with partners from the ecosystem, STARTPLATZ also offers corporations and medium-sized companies various solutions from the startup world to successfully implement and promote digitalization and innovation processes.

    Would you like to learn more?

    Startplatz offers a strong network and events on various topics related to digitalization and entrepreneurship, as well as perfect preparation for financing! For particularly dedicated teams with extremely innovative ideas, we also have a special program, the STARTPLATZ Accelerator!

    Information about the Accelerator Information about the Startplatz Membership