Scientific Monitoring and Evaluation of the Programme “EXIST – University-Based Business Start-Ups“

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI) has been responsible for the accompanying research of the program “EXIST – business start-ups from science“ since May 1999. Its objective is to support the BMWi during the implementation and further development of EXIST.

The agreed focal areas of the three program lines, EXIST start-up culture, EXIST start-up grant and EXIST research transfer until the end of 2015 are:

  • Monitoring the projects funded within the EXIST start-up culture and processing experiences of implementing the measures and identifying good practice. This also includes the analysis of typical hurdles and problems of implementation as well as procedures to overcome them. One focal point are the new holistic strategy development, the creation of a university-wide start-up profiling, establishing permanent structures which support start-ups and on supplementary regulations the introduction of funding rounds which focus and securing the sustainability of projects and activities. 

  • Stimulating the exchange of experience between the funded projects and with other universities and initiatives for start-up support. The focus here is on the preparation and follow-up of the contents of the EXIST workshops which are organized as twice annual two-day events by different EXST networks.

  • Supporting the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the project sponsor during the implementation of the EXIST program. This includes the evaluation of diagrams and applications or progress reports submitted for the two-round competition, the support of the EXIST experts' forum's work and the preparation of short expert reports as well as advising the BMWi on issues of start-up support at universities and research institutions. In some cases, this includes the support of cross-project public relations depending on the client's or project sponsor's requirements. 

  • Analyses of the projects and start-ups funded by the EXIST start-up grant and EXIST research transfer. The focus is on empirical studies on the realization rates of the funded projects, the survival rates of the start-ups created from the projects and their economic development over time. A comparison of the relevant characteristics of the previous program EXIST SEED is also subject of the investigation. 

Four groups at universities are the focus of accompanying research and evaluation of EXIST:

  • 22 funded EXIST universities which received extensive funding after the first and second rounds of competition within the EXIST start-up culture;

  • 22 universities, which received financial support only during the conceptual phase, to develop strategic concepts for extensive start-up support but were not successful when applying for funding for project phase A;

  • Additional universities which received funding from EXIST-III between 2006 and 2011/12 and used this to create extensive offers to support start-ups 

  • Universities, which have never been funded by EXIST. 

The procedures and instruments of accompanying research can be characterized by the keywords: monitoring, interim evaluations, ex-post evaluation and overall controlling. Target groups of the investigation are the EXIST initiatives and their respective network partners, students, researchers and newly founded innovative companies as well as sponsors on the federal and regional level.