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Kickstart@TH OWL

Program

You have an innovative idea that you want to propel further, but require both financial and conceptual support? Then apply today for the "KickStart@TH OWL" program. Individuals or teams from TH OWL can be uncomplicatedly and flexibly supported for up to six months. During this duration, teams can receive up to €7,500, coaching assistance, and unrestricted access to labs, along with guidance.

Your benefits at a glance:

  • €7,500 - Support of up to €7,500 for idea validation
  • Infrastructure - Access to our labs and co-working spaces
  • 6 months - Coaching support for your team over a period of 6 months

This program is funded by:

 

Previous Winners of Kickstart@TH OWL

 

The idea behind "Valetudo" is a smart cable pull tower, familiar from the gym, for the end customer in the home. Benjamin Böhme and Finn Wiesmann want to develop a sensor system that recognises and analyses the movements of the athletes. Movement data and exercise information are displayed via an app.

Application process

  1. To apply for the Kickstart@TH Stipendium, you need to complete a provided and meaningful concept paper and submit it within the application deadline (28.06.2024 | 11:59 PM). The documents should be sent to the following email address: gruenden@th-owl.de. A pre-selection of teams will be made by the staff of the TH OWL Entrepreneurship Center based on the submitted concept paper. Selected founding teams will be notified and invited to a pitch presentation. The decision for funding will be made by a qualified jury composed of members from the OWL Entrepreneurship Network. This selection will be based on a personal presentation (pitch, around 7 minutes) in which the founders introduce their concept and team. Immediately after, the presenters will have the opportunity to answer specific questions from the jury (15 minutes). The jury's decision on funding will be made promptly.

    Upon approval by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), the selected founders will be personally informed and can begin the 6-month funding period. During this funding period, the services offered by the university can be acquired and provided to the teams/individuals. A one-week sprint will take place, and the StartupLab team will be available as coaches for the founders at all times.

Funding is available for:
- The early idea phase: You don't have to be there yet!
- University-internal individual founders or teams, whether students, employees or doctoral candidates

Contact and Materials

If you are now interested in the "Kickstart@TH OWL" program, we look forward to receiving your application! Here, we provide you with all the relevant information:

If you have questions about the process or any further details, please feel free to reach out to us at the email address gruenden@th-owl.de.

FAQ

What is funded?

The program aims to facilitate the straightforward testing of initial ideas and concepts that have the potential to lead to future business ventures (idea proposals). Over the 6-month funding period, activities such as providing a 'Proof-of-Principle,' building a demonstrator, or conducting market or feasibility analyses can take place.

It is a prerequisite that the intention is to establish a new venture. At the time of application, a project idea should exist, but the business should not have been founded yet.

Supported:

  • Idea stemming from a thesis, final project, or study (whether it's a product or service)
  • Preparatory work for EXIST funding or similar programs
  • Provision of a Proof-of-Principle
  • Development of demonstrators, including MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)
  • Focus on scientific-technical questions

Not supported:

  • Product already on the market
  • No intention to start a business
  • Business already founded
Who is funded?

Funding is available for individual founders or teams within the university. The founders can be students, staff, or doctoral candidates at TH OWL. All members of a team must have an affiliation with TH OWL, meaning they must be studying, working, or pursuing a doctorate at the university.

What is the funding like?

From the time the funding is approved, the founders receive financial support totally 7,500 euros. This is not a direct grant, the money is administered by TH OWL and runs for a maximum of six months.

In addition, the scholarship holders benefit from coaching, the so-called Sprint. The one-week sprint marks the funding start and is obligatory if funding is approved. The start of the funding period is based on the application period and begins with the first sprint day. It cannot be freely chosen.

How will be the teams / individuals selected?
  1. To apply for the Kickstart@TH Stipendium, you need to fill out a provided, meaningful concept paper.
  2.  A pre-selection of teams will be made by the staff of the StartupLab based on the submitted concept paper. Selected founding teams will be notified and invited to a pitch presentation.
  3. The decision for funding will be made by a qualified jury from the OWL Entrepreneurship Network. This selection will be based on a personal presentation (pitch, around 7 minutes) in which the founders introduce their concept and team. Immediately after, the presenters will have the opportunity to answer specific questions from the jury (15 minutes).
  4.  The jury's decision on funding will be made promptly. After approval by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), the selected founders will be personally informed and can begin the 6-month funding period.
  5.  During the funding period, the services offered by the university can be acquired and provided to the teams/individuals. A one-week sprint will take place, and the StartupLab team will be available as coaches for the founders at all times.
What can be financed with the €7,500?

The €7,500 in funding can be used for necessary materials, procurement of specialized parts, or specific consulting services. The procurement will be carried out by the university, and the earmarked use of funds must be documented in writing. Personnel expenses or funds for covering living costs cannot be financed. Here are further examples of possible procurements:

What can be funded:

  • Materials
  • Rent or purchase of specialized equipment (to remain at the university)
  • Production of specialized parts
  • Specialized consulting services
  • Software licenses for the university
  • Possible outsourcing (requires consultation with the project sponsor)

What cannot be funded:

  • Personnel (personnel expenses)
  • Standard lab equipment, e.g., laptops
  • Personalized software licenses
  • Marketing expenses and shop set-up

The funding of €7,500 does not need to be repaid, even after the 6 months.

What is the one-week sprint like?

This intensive coaching takes place at the beginning of the lecture-free period and is supported and supervised by professors and coaches from the startup team. The Sprint's structure is tailored to the specific business idea and the project's current status. During the 5 days, the following topics are covered:

  1. Assessing Needs (6-month goals, milestone planning, etc.)
  2. Understanding Customers (Market and target audience analysis, etc.)
  3. Developing Offerings (Value communication, Unique Selling Proposition, Positioning, etc.)
  4. Planning Products (Patents, Brands, Product development, etc.)
  5. Presenting Ideas and Founding (Legal forms, Financing, Pitching, etc.)
What will happen after these six months?

In the event of success, the conclusion of the idea test should be the further pursuit of the founding idea. This can take place, for example, through the application for additional startup support programs, such as Gründerstipendium.NRW or the EXIST program, or by starting a company.

Receiving funding from Kickstart@TH OWL does not preclude the possibility of obtaining further funding in the future, such as Gründerstipendium NRW or potentially the EXIST scholarship.

Idea paper: What if I don't know the exact costs of the required purchases?

 

In the idea paper, a rough cost estimate is required. We want to understand what you intend to do with the funds and how much money you need to test your idea. You don't need to obtain cost estimates for this, an estimate of expenses and a breakdown of the €7,500 is sufficient for the application.

Is the university the rightful owner of the idea?

Even though the university supports you both ideologically and financially with your idea, you remain the creator of your idea and retain the rights. We do not claim any ownership of your idea but aim to assist you in starting your own company.

The prototypes designed and built, as well as consumables purchased with the funding, remain your property even after the funding period. Only the acquired equipment must remain at the university and is the property of TH OWL.

Pitch presentation: What is a pitch?

If you advance to the next round, you will be invited to a pitch presentation. During this presentation, you will have 7 minutes to convince the jury of your idea. The presentation takes place in person at the Startup Center in Lemgo, and you have the freedom to structure your 7 minutes as you see fit. You can choose to use presentation slides, speak freely, or bring something tangible or demonstrable. Try to align your presentation with the content of the completed idea paper. It's important that all members of your team are present.