DLR_Startup Factory

DLR start-ups – from research to market
The ‘DLR_Startup Factory’ is a comprehensive and effective company building programme with a focus on the deep tech sector.

Adobe Stock

The DLR_Startup Factory is a company-building programme focusing on DLR technologies, offering founders a comprehensive and systematic framework programme for establishing successful research-based startups. In this way, we are strengthening the promotion of DLR spin-offs. These startups turn the results of research into applications and onto the market, generating ideas and driving innovation. Products and services from DLR spin-offs create added value and contribute to tackling societal challenges.

Welcome to the DLR_Startup Factory!

Are you interested in the possibility of founding a spin-off company based on DLR technologies or supporting one as an investor?

Whether you are a DLR employee researching a future technology or already have a concrete idea for a startup and would like to set up your own company (startup path) – DLR offers comprehensive support in all phases of your project.

DLR also provides intensive support to external entrepreneurs who find deep tech fascinating and would like to set up a company using DLR technology.

The planned startup must be related to DLR technologies. If you are a DLR employee and would like to set up a spin-off based on your research without founding your own company, you can take the Techpreneur Path.

If you are an investor looking for exciting startup projects, you have come to the right place! We give you access to promising startup initiatives and up-and-coming companies from DLR's research fields.

What opportunities are there for me to participate in the DLR_Startup Factory?

Ways to get involved and cooperation opportunities at a glance:

Ways to get involved and cooperation opportunities
Ways to get involved and cooperation opportunities at a glance

Our offer for DLR founders and external techpreneurs:

  • Systematic company building programme with intensive support and numerous workshops
  • Advice on deciding on the startup or techpreneur path
  • ‘Future Innovators – A Helmholtz Transfer Academy’ offers three modules that build on each other and help you decide which path is right for you (participation is open to all members of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres)
  • Financing of startup projects
  • Networking between DLR founders and the startup scene
  • For spin-offs with high potential under certain conditions: DLR could possibly participate as a shareholder and co-investor

Want to find out about your options without obligation? We are happy to advise, coach and connect you! startups[at]DLR.de

Let's shape the future together and create value for society!

On the path to a successful spin-off, startup teams systematically go through the five stages in the DLR_Startup Factory and are individually supported by coaches and experts in a comprehensive framework programme. The creation of strong and highly motivated startup teams is a core organisational element at all stages.

DLR_Startup Factory
The five stages in the DLR_Startup Factory
The five stages in the DLR_Startup Factory

Stage 1: Ideation

We actively promote the creation of new startup initiatives.

Over three modules, the ‘Future Innovators – A Helmholtz Transfer Academy’ programme enables participants to learn methods of innovation, develop an entrepreneurial mindset and create business ideas. Networking between participants, team workshops and exchanges with experienced entrepreneurs round off the programme. The focus is on finding out how research can be transferred to create value for society and analysing one's own entrepreneurial skills and motivation. ‘Future Innovators’ is a Helmholtz-funded programme run jointly by the DLR_Startup Factory and the Startup Office of the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY.

As a further measure to promote the development of new business ideas, we offer the new ‘Techpreneur Path’. This enables DLR employees to initiate spin-offs based on their research without founding a company themselves. This path includes, among other things, the identification and selection of market-relevant DLR technologies by the DLR_Startup Factory, as well as intensive support in the development of new business ideas and the search for external co-founders, so-called techpreneurs.

Stage 2: Development of the business idea

With help from our startup coaches, new startup ideas resulting from stage one and from researchers interested in founding a company are further developed into concrete business cases and are prepared for validation in stage three. The core element of stage two is a several-day boot camp.

Stage 3: Validation of the business idea

Concrete and positively evaluated business ideas from stage two are analysed here, regarding how the proposed product or offer matches the needs of potential customer groups. Project funding partially releases researchers from their other activities. Thanks to the early understanding of customer needs and problems, suitable products can be developed.

The results of stage three are valid findings on customer needs and product requirements, initial customer contacts and – in the event of positive validation – an adapted action plan including the next steps for technology development. The results are presented to a jury and, if the assessment is positive, are followed up in stage four.

Stage 4: Preparation for market entry and foundation

This stage includes the systematic preparation of the startup as well as the founding itself within the scope of financed startup projects. This requires technological maturity and a successful ‘proof of concept’. This means that a theoretically developed project could be made a reality. This stage also includes developing the technology towards a product prototype while the spin-off is being prepared. Here, intensive support from startup coaches, personnel and team coaching as well as a comprehensive workshop programme is provided. Stage 4 is successful if projects result in startups that have their first customers and whose business model shows growth potential. Depending on the financing strategy, this stage may include reaching investment maturity to enable the immediate acquisition of capital.

Stage 5: Financing

Securing financing and liquidity is the basis of every company and is also essential for DLR spin-offs. DLR startups are supported in the search for financing options, particularly in the search for investors, even before they are formally founded. Under certain conditions, DLR can participate as a shareholder and co-investor to enable the startups to raise larger rounds of funding.