Starting a business

Universities in the Upper Rhine Valley actively promote spin-offs from within the respective colleges. By doing so, the universities offer numerous support and funding opportunities to start-ups and to those interested in founding their own companies, ranging from the development of ideas and financing issues to networking with investors and business incubators.

By furnishing orientation and advice on the topics of financing and support, the start-up offices at the individual universities provide the institutions’ spin-offs with individualized, personal support on their journey towards establishing their independent companies. For example, they might offer assistance with drafting a business plan or in applying for funding, organizing workshops and seminars on all aspects of setting up a company, and arranging events for exchange and networking. In addition, office and laboratory space is available to young entrepreneurs at the universities. Further support services include hackathons, founder pitches, boot camps, and competitions.

The networking events already in place at the individual universities offer founders the opportunity to establish contacts with the start-up scene on the other side of the Rhine. For example, founders from France or Switzerland can participate in the Founder Barbecue at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and expand their network. Further networking opportunities with spin-offs from the Upper Rhine region are offered by the “Festival Génération Startup” of the University of Strasbourg or by the events hosted by the Basel “Entrepreneurs Club”.

For the future, the university partners are planning to cooperate more closely in the area of start-ups and intend to bundle resources in order to promote exchange and knowledge on the Upper Rhine. Various trinational events are being planned for this purpose. Additional projects include creating a bilingual platform to make cross-border know-how available to founders and offer networking opportunities.

You can find an overview of current offerings from the universities on the Upper Rhine here:

University of Basel

The Innovation Office of the University of Basel offers tailor-made support for scientists wanting to translate excellent research into start-ups and entrepreneurial initiatives. Through their extensive network of experts, the Innovation Office is able to connect members of the University wanting to found a company with the right experience and knowledge. It also offers financial support through the University’s ‘Propelling Grant’ (50k CHF) and by facilitating access to investors and other funding opportunities.

University of Freiburg

The start-up office supports people interested in setting up a company at the University of Freiburg, regardless of industry, by providing founded advice, qualifying them with a wide range of further training on start-up topics and offering individual coaching. As a student university group, the Foundersclub Freiburg is very close to students and young scientists of all disciplines. All relevant stakeholders who are active in the Freiburg start-up milieu – from consulting to financing – joined the “Startinsland” start-up initiative.

Furtwangen University

The Furtwangen University’s Innovation and Research Center (IFC) is the central consulting and support institution for those interested in setting up their own business. Whether a student team, university inventor with a business idea or young scientist on the way to independence. From the initial consultation to the EXIST application as well as with the provision of offices and laboratories, the IFC makes offers for people interested in founding their own business in various phases. As a place of exchange and encounter, it links university start-ups with the regional start-up scene between the Upper Rhine and Lake Constance.

University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern

Our university promotes entrepreneurial thinking. The first point of contact for those thinking of founding their own company would be the collaborative Entrepreneurship Office of the TU and HS Kaiserslautern. Besides a broad and diverse range of qualifications and education and consultation sessions, we also offer idea competitions, strategy games, training events, and an annual summer school on entrepreneurial topics. The goal is to promote successful start-ups and managers to benefit the local economy and to expand upon the existing network in a sustainable way.

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

The KIT Founder’s Office “Gründerschmiede” promotes and supports spin-offs of students and scientists at KIT. It offers start-ups and people interested in founding their own company a comprehensive range of funding measures. Numerous networking events such as the start-up barbecue and exciting cooperations ensure a lively exchange with the regional start-up scene.


University of applied sciences Karlsruhe

The Center of Competence supports students and alumni with business start-ups and in contact with the business environment.

University of Koblenz Landau

The start-up office supports and accompanies students and employees of the University of Koblenz-Landau in the implementation of their business idea. The ED-School teaches those interested in founding a company how to develop creative and innovative ideas with Entrepreneurial Design Thinking and how to transform them into business ideas. The networking of the start-up relevant stakeholders within and outside the university ensures an improvement of the start-up culture at the university and in the region.

University Haute-Alsace

ETENA develops and runs a series of operations to promote entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit among students and young graduates in Alsace. In addition, SEMIA, the incubator for start-ups in the Greater East of France, provides support at all stages of business creation: personalized assistance, training, integration of a community of entrepreneurs and the provision of inspiring premises. 

University of applied sciences nothwestern Switzerland

The FHNW offers its students a variety of start-up support services. On the one hand, specific support such as a Start-Up Summer School or a three-month evening course on the topic of company foundation. On the other hand, the FHNW’s ImpactLab with its three focal points Creating, Growing, Changing supports existing start-ups and prospective entrepreneurs from the university environment with a comprehensive range of services. In addition, various events such as makeathons or monthly meetings are held to create a strong network of young entrepreneurs at the university.

Offenburg University of Applied Sciences

The Hochschule Offenburg promotes the entrepreneurial spirit among its students and employees through training modules, workshops and lectures. Future start-ups can receive support and advice from the Entrepreneurship Office and make use of the resources of the Fab-Lab and the future OGF Lab.

University of Strasburg

Student: ETENA offers you personalized support to move from the idea to the POC: the ideal springboard to access the SEMIA incubator and accelerate your development. Researchers: With Conectus, benefit from expertise and financial solutions for the maturation of your innovation and develop your relationships with industry. Companies: Efficiently develop your projects with Unistra’s technology platforms. Identify technologies of the future with Conectus.


For more information about trinational offers for startups, please contact:

Dr. Frauke Lorenzen

University of Freiburg, Innovation & Transfer


Copyright Picture: