Support program for entrepreneurial students at UAS

Next submission deadline: 01.09.2024

With «First Ventures», Gebert Rüf Stiftung supports bachelor’s and master’s students of Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences UAS who are developing an innovative business idea out of their studies towards the market. The support includes progressing contributions up to a maximum of CHF 150,000 as well as an individually tailored coaching program which will smooth the way to launching a startup. For this focus program funds of CHF 2 million p.a. will be made available. The Impact Clips show what the previous First Ventures winners have achieved.

Objective: Innovation at Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences

«First Ventures» focuses on entrepreneurial UAS students such as Sarah Harbarth (FHNW) who want to pursue their innovation projects during their studies or immediately after graduation. The project contributions of a maximum of CHF 150,000 pave the way for the establishment of their own spin-off. For the duration of the First Ventures project, the project managers are employed by the University of Applied Sciences and have full budget autonomy.

Start-up projects in the early phase can apply for smaller grants of up to CHF 25,000 or CHF 50,000, while advanced projects can apply for CHF 150,000 in order to be commercialised:

PROOF up to CHF 25,000 Check project idea for feasibility
VALIDATE up to CHF 50,000 Validate business case
EXECUTE up to CHF 150,000 Implement product/service on the market


The evaluation and decision phase takes one month for «Proof» or «Validate» applications and three months for «Execute» applications.

The «First Ventures» program not only provides financial support, but also individually tailored business training and coaching sessions as well as access to a broad start-up network. The curriculum is designed to equip the potential company founders with the tools they need to successfully put their business idea into practice.

Essential Requirements

  • Applications are open to Bachelor’s and Master’s students of all departments and disciplines and to graduates of universities of applied sciences up to six months after graduation.
  • Graduates of continuing education master's degree courses are not considered.
  • Project leaders and any members of the project team are employed by the university of applied sciences for the duration of the project. They are explicitly involved in the project. An appropriate letter of support must be enclosed with the application.
  • The duration of the project is between a few months to a maximum of two years, depending on the funding amount and the budget that ranges from CHF 25,000 («Proof»), CHF 50,000 («Validate») to a maximum of CHF 150,000 («Execute»). The different funding amounts can be cumulated, but up to a maximum of CHF 150,000 per project.
  • Funding will be used primarily for the salaries of the project managers and project team members employed by the UAS. The use of university funds is welcomed.
  • As part of and up to a maximum of 10% of the «First Ventures» budget, a voucher can be reserved for infrastructure services, supervision, expertise and coaching. This voucher can be used for services within and outside the university.

Content-related Support Criteria

We are looking for innovation projects with high impact potential for the economy and society that offer concrete solutions to problems and at the same time meet the quality standards of the respective research and development area. The applicants are distinguished by their professional expertise, willingness to take risks and personal commitment.

Submission of Project Applications

​​​​​Before submitting a proposal, applicants interested in participating are requested to contact the First Ventures program management.

Projects can be submitted to Gebert Rüf Stiftung by one of the quarterly deadlines (1 February, 1 May, 1 September, 1 December) in accordance with the guidelines for submitting an First Ventures proposal.

Please use our web portal for your first stage application and upload all the required documents there (project proposal form «First Ventures», support letter of UAS and elevator pitch).

Applicants for «Proof» or «Validate» grants of up to CHF 50,000 are invited to present their project to the board of trustees via Zoom within one month of submitting their project. The funding decision will be communicated within 1-2 days of the presentation.

Applicants applying for an «Execute» grant of CHF 150,000 will be invited to present their project to the board of trustees after the first round of evaluation. The funding decision will be communicated within 1-2 days after the presentation. These selected candidates can complete a pitch training programme:

Deadline Pitch-Training Presentation to the board of trustees
01.05.2024 MON 17.06.2024 WED 03.07.2024
01.09.2024 MON 14.10.2024 FRI 01.11.2024
01.12.2024 MON 03.02.2025 THURS 20.02.2025
01.02.2025 MON 07.04.2025 WED 23.04.2025
01.05.2025 MON 16.06.2025 WED 02.07.2025
01.09.2025 MON 06.10.2025 WED 22.10.2025


Project Monitoring

  • A support agreement will be concluded with the project managers whose applications are approved.
  • All copyrights will be retained by the projects.

Approved projects can find more information on the support agreement, reporting and project communications here.

Program Management

Dr. Marco Vencato, Deputy Director, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, St. Alban-Vorstadt 12, 4052 Basel, marco.notexisting@nodomain.comvencato@grstiftung.notexisting@nodomain.comch, tel. +41 61 270 88 20

Approved projects – First Ventures

Picture Credits Header

Christoph Läser Photograph AG Basel