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GFFU Startup Competition

Since 2017, the Gesellschaft von Freunden und Förderern der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf e.V. (GFFU) has been awarding an annual scholarship in favor of an outstanding business concept, which should enable the scholarship team to transfer the business concept to the application stage.

The aim of the GFFU Startup Competition is to support founders in the establishment and further development of their company.

The GFFU Startup Competition 2023 started on April 1st, 2023 and ended on May 31st, 2023. The award ceremony and announcement of this year's winning team was held on October 25th, 2023.

Startup funding of EUR 50.000 goes to "Steuerboard" team

Jakob Brandt and Matyas Sebastian Heins have won this year's GFFU Startup Competition with their innovative IT solution "Steuerboard". The GFFU supports the team with a grant of 50.000 euros startup funding for the first 12 months.


The scholarship is aimed at students, graduates, employees of HHU, the affiliated institutes and the University Hospital Düsseldorf as well as former members of HHU (applicant). The prerequisite for participation by former members is a successful degree from HHU, e.g. Bachelor's/Master's degree, state examination, doctorate or habilitation. Individual and team applications are possible. In the case of a team application, at least one applicant must be an active or former member of HHU. member of HHU and remain part of the funded team for the entire funding period.

Funding will be awarded to an applicant or a collaborative group of applicants with a particularly innovative and self-developed business concept whose content development and realisation capability are particularly convincing. The award decision is made by a nine-member jury made up of three members of the GFFU Executive Board, three representatives of HHU and three entrepreneurs.

If the award decision is not in favour of a single applicant, the total scholarship will be divided among the members of the winning team of applicants. The funding period is one year.

The scholarship is endowed with € 50.000 and is paid on the basis of a grant agreement. The scholarship serves

1. primarily to cover living expenses in the first year of realising the start-up concept and

2. to (partially) cover material, training and realisation costs or similar expenses during this period.

The funding amount is paid in 12 equal monthly instalments. If the funded project does not develop as planned over a period of 3 months or if the grantee(s) and the sponsors agree that the project cannot be realised temporarily or in full, the GFFU Executive Board may decide to interrupt or completely discontinue payment of the monthly instalments. Funding will be discontinued at the latest after the end of the second calendar year following the award of the scholarship. Any funding that has not been paid out by then will be forfeited.

Once funding has commenced, the grantee(s) shall report regularly at the end of each quarter on the activities undertaken and the progress made in developing the project. The report must be submitted electronically to the GFFU office within 10 working days of the end of a funding quarter without being requested to do so (see contact details in section 3 below). The complete or partial cessation of activities or failure to submit activity reports shall entitle the sponsorship to be cancelled.

The GFFU Startup Competition begins on 1 April 2023 and each applicant can submit their idea or concept until 31 May 2023. Applications must be submitted electronically at


The submitted business concept should be presented in writing, including a market and competition analysis, a concrete description of the organisation and team as well as a financial plan (incl. profit and loss account and cash flow plan). The business concept should comprise approx. 10 pages of text and the financial planning approx. 5-8 pages of text and tables.

The jury will make a free pre-selection from the applications received and invite the pre-selected applicants or applicant teams to a personal presentation (pitch) to the jury in June 2023. These applicants/applicant teams will be prepared for the event in advance through individual coaching. The winning concept will be selected from the business concepts presented in person.

The award ceremony and scholarship ceremony will take place on 25 October 2023. The GFFU Executive Board will then conclude a grant agreement with the winner or the winning team.

Simultaneous participation in the HHU Ideas Competition and the GFFU Startup Competition is excluded.

Award decision:

  • The jury decides on the award of the scholarship to one of the shortlisted applicants or to a team of applicants by means of a voting system.
  • For each business concept, the following categories may be considered: a. Conceptual elaboration (approx. ten pages), b. Presentation of economic viability/financial planning (approx. 5-8 pages) and c. Overall presentation of the business concept (lecture/presentation and presentation). Overall presentation of the business concept (lecture/presentation and Q&A approx. 1 hour) 1 to 5 points each can be awarded.
  • The points awarded in categories a. and b. are weighted at 30% each and in category c. at 40%. The scholarship will be awarded to the applicant or team of applicants with the highest total number of points.
  • If two or more applicants or applicant teams achieve the same number of points, an election decision will be made. In the voting procedure, each member of the jury has one vote. The applicant or team of applicants who receives the most votes will be awarded the scholarship.

More details and documents about the GFFU Startup Competition can be found at: unifreunde-duesseldorf.de

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