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University of Bayreuth, Presse Release No. 170/2023 - 12 December 2023

„EXIST Women“: new funding for female founders

The Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of Bayreuth is now supporting ten female scholarship holders with their start-up projects. This is made possible by the new "EXIST Women" funding programme of the Federal Ministry of Economics, which aims to increase the number of female founders in the start-up scene.

Women have been severely underrepresented in the start-up ecosystem for decades, with only around 20 per cent of start-ups being founded by women. There are various reasons for this imbalance, ranging from the difficulty of balancing family and start-up life to a lack of role models and networks and a statistically verifiable disadvantage in terms of funding. All in all, this leads to women favouring a secure permanent position. Prof Dr Rodrigo Isidor from the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation has been researching female start-up culture and the significant discrepancy between male and female start-up figures for many years. "Although women have almost the same start-up intentions as men, there are still far fewer female founders," he explains. "More incentives must therefore be created to encourage women to become self-employed."

Now the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate wants to tackle this problem and has launched a new funding programme to help universities and colleges create incentives for women to start their own businesses: EXIST Women is a one-year funding programme by the BfWK in which the scholarship holders receive access to networking events, intensive and individual support from the university's start-up advisory service as well as renowned mentors and a three-month funding sum of up to 9,500 euros.

The first round of scholarship holders, their mentors, and the employees of the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. 

"The rush for the few places was high," says Tanja Meffert, start-up consultant at the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of Bayreuth and co-coordinator of EXIST Women. "We have now made a selection of very good female applicants who have the best prerequisites for self-employment. In order to select these applicants, the applications were scrutinised by a jury with start-up experience. In particular, the motivation to found a company was the main focus here, but also the qualifications required to realise the respective ideas. From social entrepreneurship to game design, the start-up ideas are a colourful mix - but we always treat them confidentially."

The mentors at their side are just as diverse as the ten EXIST Women participants receiving funding. From 1 December, nine experienced female entrepreneurs and founders will be passing on the expertise they have built up over the years to the budding entrepreneurs. They include Dr Helga Metzel (Managing Director of Museen im Kulmbacher Mönchshof e. V. and owner of "Helga Metzel Coaching"), Annegret Schnick (authorised signatory and COO of Gedikom), Birgit Weidl (Managing Director of Gloria Porzellanmanufaktur), Astrid Loos (self-employed with astridloos. Photografie), Patricia Knoll (CEO of JobTrüffel), Julia Förster-Oetter (owner of Atelier Förster-Oetter), Meltem Alca (CEO of ASKMI), Antonia Schmidt (CEO of NightinGames), Ina Medick (Managing Director of IF.DIGITAL).

The EXIST Women funding programme is rounded off by practical workshops tailored to the challenges faced by female founders. Topics such as creating a professional business plan, marketing and resilience are planned.

Prof. Dr. Rodrigo Isidor

Prof. Dr. Rodrigo Isidor

Chair of Human Resource Management & Intrapreneurship

University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-6280
E-Mail: isidor@uni-bayreuth.de

Portraitbild von Anja Maria Meister

Anja-Maria Meister

PR Spokesperson University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0) 921  55 - 5300
E-mail: anja.meister@uni-bayreuth.de