Turn your Idea into a start-up

with the RWTH Ideation Program!

The Program

The Ideation Program at a glance:

  • 3-month sprint - from idea to pre-seed readiness
  • Continuous 1:1 coaching
  • Development of: Business plan, including financial planning & pitch deck


Program Overview

What does the program structure look like?

Our program starts every 2 months - applications are accepted throughout the year. Our program is competitive, which means that after an application, an interview takes place. Based on this, we select the most innovative and motivated teams for the next batch.

The program is structured around 3 milestone sessions: Kick-off, Half-time Pitch, and Final Pitch. Within 3 months, you will elaborate the essential building blocks for your future company in continuous 1:1 coaching sessions, alongside 3 deliverables: pitch deck, idea paper, and business plan. You will be supported by a designated coach throughout the entire period.

The first session of the Ideation Program is the Kick-off, where you get to know your batch and your personal coach. After 6 weeks, you will continue with a dedicated pitch exercise - the Half-Time Pitch. At the end of the Ideation Program, you will present your results in the Final pitch and receive constructive, in-depth feedback. During the program, you will get access to many useful, exclusive services and to the ecosystem of the Aachen start-up scene. In addition to the milestone sessions, you will receive input via other topic-based workshops (e. g., on funding or product-market-fit) that will take place via online workshops.

The entire program is supported by the Excellence Start-up Center.NRW and does not involve any IP or equity investment. This means that after our commitment, all we need from you is full effort - at least 10h per week for 3 months.

Target Group

Our program criteria:

  1. Team: Show us that you have a complementary competence profile and, if applicable, already have a mentor circle - we want to see that you are motivated and have a great interest in the program.
  2. Business Idea: Do you have an innovative idea and cover a gap in the market? Show us that you are competitive due to your research advantage and possibly already existing intellectual property.
  3. Business Model: We want to see that your business model is well thought out.
  4. Feasibility: Convince us that your idea can be transformed into a comprehensive business plan within the framework of our program and can then be brought to market quickly.

For solo founders we offer support in the search for co-founders; for the generation of ideas, we recommend the participation in the  Founder's Bootcamp.


Our 3-month program takes you from defining a business model to successful pre-seed funding with ongoing 1:1 coaching from our experienced start-up coaches. The program provides an effective and scalable approach to educating, training, and supporting pre-seed entrepreneurs entering the start-up ecosystem. During the coaching sessions, we will help you define a clear, coherent business model and create a compelling application for a pre-seed funding program. In addition, your coaching will give you valuable insights on building a professional pitch presentation that is suitable for investment. The most common pre-seed funding program for which we help teams with their application is the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. This program, initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), provides financial support to innovative start-ups in the seed phase. We will also provide you with further information on other funding programs, such as the Gründerstipendium NRW.


Expert Hubs

The RWTH Expert Hubs complement our coaching programs by providing topic-specific platforms for start-ups and by

  • introducing you to (research) experts from the RWTH environment and other start-ups to discuss, among other things, subject-specific issues;
  • providing you with access to our RWTH infrastructure, so that you can further develop your prototype;
  • enabling you to use our Collective Incubator as a co-working/office space, event location and maker space;
  • informing you about current trends and topics and to network with your peers at regular networking events.

Financing workshop – Learn everything you need to know about financing your start-up from finance experts. You will receive valuable input on developing your financial plan.

Product-Market-Fit – To help you validate your idea with customers, we offer a session on product-market-fit. Demonstrating a product-market-fit is one of the most important prerequisites to convince investors of your merits.

EXIST-consulting-hours – We have set up a monthly counseling hour or public funding options, esp. the EXIST Business Start-up Grant.

Success Stories



ACCURE is an AI-based battery management platform and emerged from the largest European research group for battery systems at RWTH Aachen University. The three ACCURE founders - Dr. Kai Philipp Kairies, Dr. Georg Angenendt and Dr. Johannes Palmer - were early members of our Ideation Program. ACCURE combines cutting-edge research with a practical understanding of the industry's challenges to safely and effectively deploy, operate and recycle batteries. Today, just over 2 years after ACCURE completed the Ideation program with a successful EXIST Business Start-up Grant application, the company of more than 40 battery experts and data scientists is helping companies worldwide to make batteries safe, reliable and sustainable.

Find out more about the success story of ACCURE at https://www.accure.net/



ANTICIPATE develops an AI-based assistance system for automated verification of manual assembly processes. The two founders Kevin Denker and Heiko Wirtz started the spin-off from the Digital Capability Center Aachen at the end of 2021. Subsequently, the two have been supported by us through both our Ideation and Incubation programs and were thus able to successfully apply for the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. Today, ANTICIPATE already has around 10 software and AI experts working together to make AI technologies more transparent, reliable and easier to use for companies worldwide.

Learn more about ANTICIPATE at https://www.anticipate.ml/


© IonKraft

IonKraft is a young spin-off of RWTH Aachen University. Its mission is to make plastic packaging recyclable using plasma coating technology. Many packages are made from different plastics to create the densest possible packaging. However, these multilayer systems are not recyclable. IonKraft has developed a new barrier coating that offers the same performance as the multilayer system but is more cost effective and fully recyclable.

Learn more https://ionkraft.com



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