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Startup Your Idea Contest - The Finale

The best ideas from Cologne students and scientists

PITCH - Check out the 8 best ideas from Cologne students and scientists

MEET - Meet people interested in founding a company, start-ups and the Gateway Start-up Centers

MATCH - Contribute to a start-up idea

PITCH At the grand finale, eight teams from Cologne's universities pitch their innovative ideas in two categories - with prize money totaling €10,000 at stake. You choose your favorites for the audience award.

MEET Get to know like-minded people. Start-ups from Cologne's universities, colleagues from the Gateway Start-up Centers and many other players from the start-up ecosystem will be on site. Find out how the Gateway can help you find your own idea or further develop your existing idea.

MATCH Do you have a start-up idea and are still looking for fellow campaigners or would you like to contribute your skills to an existing start-up? Connect with people interested in founding a company on site and drop by the Start-up Market - because our start-ups are also looking for support in various areas.


On January 18th 2024 in the Aula 2 of the University of Cologne

5pm: MATCH Startup Market

6pm: PITCH pitches by the finalists

8pm: Award ceremony for the winning teams

8.20pm: MEET Networking at the Startup Market

*Subject to changes

How many submissions were there and how were they evaluated?

This year, we had 28 submissions from the Gateway universities and were evaluated based on the assessment criteria "start-up idea", "customer and competition", "competencies of the teams" and "feasibility of the idea". The first round of evaluation was carried out by the transfer scouts and representatives from all universities. The TOP8 in each category were then evaluated by a jury of experts and the 4 finalist teams were nominated.

Who are the expert jury members?

The expert jury includes:

  • Marc Kley, Director of Gateway ESC
  • Prof. Dr. Jutta Stahl, University of Cologne, Department Psychology
  • Markus Gick, Managing Director xdeck
  • Tanja Zirnstein, Alumna of the University of Cologne and Managing Director of UVIS
  • Philipp Hauptmann, Analyst STS Ventures
  • Dr. Nele Stadtbäumer, founder of the start-up Grievy

How does Gateway help me?

You will find support from one of the Gateway Start-up Centers at all four participating universities. We are your contact for start-up ideas and transfer projects. We help you to develop your idea or your research results further - with advice on funding and business models, workshops and events, coaching sessions, etc.

Click here for more information.

What is the Female Entrepreneurship Prize?

The Ford Fund provides the Female Entrepreneurship Prize, which is endowed with €1,000 in tangible assets and specifically supports female founders who want to realize their business ideas.

Qualification for the prize is automatic with the submission of ideas by teams that consist of at least 50% female founders on the day of submission.

The winning team will be selected by the Ford Fund and be announced at the final.

This prize and the on-site sign language interpretation are financed by:

Ford Fund & Global Giving

We would like to thank them for their support.

Impressions from the last Finale

Organized by:

Gateway universities