Social and International Start-up Campus University of Erfurt (EXIST)

Project Description

The EXIST team
The project team: Martin Hellmann (University of Erfurt Gründerservice), Juliane Corredor Jiménez (Brandt School), Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm (Brandt School) and Martina Karl (project staff) (from left to right)

In 2019, Prof. Dr.Heike Grimm received around 700,000 Euros in federal grants for implementing a social and international start-up campus at the University of Erfurt. The grant is part of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology‘s (BMWi) national initiative “EXIST Potentiale”, specifically addressing the pillar “Poteniale heben” (Unlock Potential) of the “EXIST Gründungskultur” (Exist Start-up Culture) program. The successful applicants and project team of four led by Prof. Grimm submitted a convincing proposal which aims at promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of students and to further support ideas from international and interdisciplinary start-up teams.

Social entrepreneurship not only perfectly complements the University of Erfurt's teaching and research profile, but it also builds on an existing tradition of innovative startup ideas from the university students. Previously successful start-up teams from the Willy Brandt School, such as MINTy GirlsSharing Living or the app Amigo, provided essential motivation for the idea and the development of a social and international “Gründercampus” at the University of Erfurt. These projects were recipients of the Brandt School’s Commitment Award, which has been spearheaded by the "Engagementpreis-Stiftung" with support from the Brandt School partners "Town and Country Stiftung" and the "W.P. Schmitz Stiftung" for over ten years now. Along with the "Haniel Stiftung" and the Aletta Haniel Professor for Public Policy and Entrepreneurship, the "Engagementpreis-Stiftung" is the driving force behind the establishment of entrepreneurship education and research at the University of Erfurt and the Brandt School. The intersection of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy is an especially innovative aspect of the teaching and research portfolio and is one of the unique selling points of the Brandt School’s MPP program.


University of Erfurt’s Start-Up Service (German website)







Willy Brandt himself represented social change. The Commitment Award seeks to build on his legacy by awarding fascinating, new social projects. In 2022, the Engagementpreis Foundation is supporting the 11th Commitment Award at the Willy Brandt School…

Ms. Maha Aly successfully defended her PhD Thesis under supervision of Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm and Prof. Dr. David Audretsch on October 20, 2021, in which she investigated the impact of cultural values on entrepreneurial behavior.

Since 2019 the EXIST project by Prof. Heike Grimm aims at implementing a social and international start-up campus at the University of Erfurt and already records two successful EXIST start-up scholarship teams: ‘Coachingspace’ and the ‘MINTy Girls’. …

Brandt School Project Group kicks off Spirit of Football’s Journey to the Qatar Men’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup in Australia.

A guest talk by Dr. Marcus Schlegel, head of the EU-Audit and Revision department at Thuringia’s development bank, during Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm's leadership lecture.

Shortly before the end 2019, the University of Erfurt received great news about an upcoming project– the University was awarded 775,000 Euros in federal grants, funding activities through 2023.