The Future is Female: Thuringian start-up services organize joint event for female founders

25 prospective female founders met at the invitation of the start-up services of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena and Technische Universität Ilmenau from February 2 to 4 for the "Female Founders Retreat" at Rittergut Positz.

From February 2 to 4, 2024, the start-up services of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Technische Universität Ilmenau invited prospective female founders to a two-day networking and training event at Rittergut Positz. The special feature: The event was aimed exclusively at women. The so-called "Female Founders Retreat" was aimed at participants of the new "EXIST-Women" funding program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), which aims to encourage women at universities and research institutions to become self-employed.

Together with six employees from the start-up services neudeli (Bauhaus University Weimar), K1 (Friedrich Schiller University Jena) and Ilmkubator (TU Ilmenau), 25 prospective female founders spent the weekend at the conference center of the Positz manor in Oppurg, Thuringia. Here they were able to concentrate fully on their start-up projects in the natural surroundings and devote themselves to networking with like-minded people far away from everyday life.

The specially designed program included networking opportunities and specialist workshops on topics such as pricing, social innovation and time and self-management. In addition to intensive work units, a lot of emphasis was placed on exchange and shared experiences, for example with a guided tour of the manor followed by archery or morning sports sessions.

"The retreat is a project close to our hearts that we have wanted to implement for a long time," says Miriam Köble, organizer and start-up consultant at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. "It's great that we were able to realize the project with the help of EXIST funding and the commitment of my colleagues."

The participants were also enthusiastic about the retreat, praising the exciting and interactive program as well as the networking opportunities for women interested in founding a company: "There are wonderful women who want to shape the world, non-judgmental and empowering - right in the city next door," said one participant, summarizing her experience.

The start-up advisors from Weimar, Jena and Ilmenau are also enthusiastic about the success of the Female Founders Retreat: "As start-up services in Thuringia, we are networked in the Thuringian university start-up network "StarTH" and work closely together. We also want to bring this cooperation closer to our female founders and increase the proportion of women among founders in the long term," says consultant Ede Möser from Jena. His colleague Franziska Dettke from Ilmenau adds: "The EXIST funding helps us to make even better use of resources. The success of the weekend encourages us in this and we are already planning to meet again in the summer".

Last year, the universities in Ilmenau, Jena, Weimar and Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences successfully applied for the "EXIST-Women" funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. Women from the university context were then able to apply for the limited places in the program and were each selected in a jury process. They will receive funding until the end of November 2024 in the form of advice and further training opportunities as well as optional financial support. The universities design their programs independently of each other, but would like to intensify networking within the locations.

About "EXIST-Women":

The BMWK is expanding start-up funding for female entrepreneurs and founders from the scientific environment. To this end, the established EXIST funding program has been expanded to include the new "EXIST-Women" funding line.

The new program line aims to encourage women at universities and research institutions to venture into entrepreneurial independence so that more women will act as managing directors and shareholders of innovative start-ups in the future.

>> More about EXIST-Women

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