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Gateway ESC Accelerator - FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Gateway ESC accelerator program

Application and Requirements

When does the application period end?

The application period ends on 15th August 2022.

What are the prerequisites for participation?

You should be a technology or science based, social or green and innovation-led startup. You should aim to expand to international markets. You should have a good command of English.

At least 1 team member has to have any kind of affiliation with the network of universities in Cologne (Gateway Network / Hochschulgründernetz Cologne e.V.): i.e. current student, alumni, researcher, teaching/administrative staff etc.

Universities include: Cologne Business School, German Sport University Cologne, Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management (FOM), Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, ifs internationale filmschule Köln, International School of Management (ISM), Hochschule Macromedia/Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln (RFH), Technische Hochschule Köln, Universität zu Köln / University of Cologne.

What phase should my startup be in?

It is not necessary to already be established as an enterprise. However you should be advanced in your concept and already have a solid team (minimum two team members). We do not accept solo start-ups.

Do I have to live in Cologne?

No. But in case we are holding in-person events in Cologne, at least 1 team member should be present. Participation in events is obligatory.

Do I have to be / speak German? Does my (future) startup have to be based in DE? Can I have international co-founders on my team?

The accelerator will be held entirely in English. You do not have to speak German, although it certainly might come in handy sometimes.

We do not have requirements for where your startup has to be based in the future, but we especially welcome startups that aim to reach international markets. Co-founders and team members of any nationality are very welcome.

How does the application work? Which documents are required?

1st step: Complete the Application Survey. 2nd step: Send your pitchdeck to gateway-accelerator@uni-koeln.de

How big should the team be? Can I also apply on my own?

Only teams of minimum two persons can apply.

Does the startup have to be in a certain industry?

There is no certain industry requirement, however we especially welcome technology and science based, green and social startups.

Is there a maximum age for founders?

There is no age requirement.

When do I know if I have been selected for the program?

We will evaluate the applications after the deadline on 15th August 2022 and contact you as soon as possible.

Is my company too advanced to participate?

All startups up to the age of 3 years after legal establishment are welcome.

Can I reapply if I have been rejected?

Of course, please do not hesitate to apply for the next batch.

Can I participate more than once?

Participation is only possible once.

Did you know?


Unlike other accelerator programs, we do not take any equity from you. The program is 100% free! 🙌

How long does the program last?

It will last 6 months, from September 2022 until February/March 2023.

What does the program include?

Individual team needs analysis, participation in workshops, tickets for special exclusive events, individual mentoring and coaching.

On which topics are events offered?

Our focus lies on leadership and team development. We also offer workshops about funding, marketing, PR, internationalisation, sales and pitchtraining. You will have the opportunity to connect with mentors for different expertise at our „Mentor Day“ at the start of the program.

When does the accelerator start?

The first events will be held mid of September 2021.

Are there any costs? / What are the costs?

Gateway ESC Accelerator does not take any equity. You do not have to pay to participate. If your company is already established legally, the program is De-minimis relevant.

Do I have to surrender shares?

No. Gateway ESC will not claim any shares to your startup.

How does the accelerator work during the pandemic? Do you hope to organize face-to-face events during the year?

Due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, currently it has not been decided whether the events will be held online or in-person. We do hope to host in-person events, however the health and safety of everyone involved is always put as our first priority. We may switch to an online format at any time if necessary.

I'm an investor / a company and would like to get in touch with the startups / get information about them. How?

Please reach out to our startup coaches, Frederik Lindner or Evelyn Berresheim-Christ, or send us an email to gateway-accelerator@uni-koeln.de.