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EXIST Start-up Grants for Omiqa, PriceBase, and not less but better

Successful Start-up Support at Freie Universität Berlin: Three Spin-offs Win Substantial Seed Funding

№ 077/2020 from May 06, 2020

Automated pricing for app providers, a platform for high-quality genome analyses, and the first training program for healthy smartphone use: These three business ideas from founding teams at Freie Universität Berlin have each been awarded an EXIST Start-up Grant. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy rated the projects as innovative technology-based or knowledge-based business ideas with good chances for success. The Ministry is supporting the projects with more than 100,000 euros each. The initiators of the projects now have one year to develop their product and develop a business plan. Since the program was started in 2007, a total of 99 teams have received these grants. During the proposal process, they were supported by start-up advisors at Freie Universität Berlin, one of the most successful universities nationwide in winning grants through the EXIST program. Students and graduates as well as researchers at universities and non-university research institutions may apply.


For several years Tom Haltenhof, Alexander Neumann, and Didrik Olofsson did research together at the Institute of Biochemistry at Freie Universität. They realized that the next generation of DNA sequencing technology can lead to new knowledge in many disciplines. With their online platform Omiqa, they want to enable researchers lacking knowledge in bioinformatics to carry out complex analyses of genome data using the high-throughput method themselves. Omiqa's mentor is Florian Heyd, a professor of RNA biochemistry at Freie Universität Berlin.


Company founders Benedict Seyer, Patrick Bläsing, and Marc Thomas want to help app providers to increase their sales by using dynamic pricing for in-app purchases. On the basis of machine learning, their software PriceBase gives users individual offers at the right time in their user history, which means that premium functions are made available to more users and app providers can increase their sales at the same time. The mentor of the team is Hannes Rothe, an assistant junior professor of business informatics at Freie Universität Berlin.

not less but better

Christina Roitzheim, Selcuk Aciner, and Marius Rackwitz are developing not less but better, a training app intended to help reduce problematic smartphone use. Their goal: within 20 days, users should learn to eliminate habits that they themselves perceive as burdensom or obstructive, and to make their cell phone use healthier. With the help of their mentors Prof. Dr. Ralf Schwarzer and Dr. Jan Keller from the field of health psychology in the Department of Education and Psychology at Freie Universität, they tested and validated the effectiveness of the training program. Now they are preparing to enter the market.

With the EXIST program, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy supports scinece-based start-ups in the pre-start-up phase. At Freie Universität Berlin, start-ups are supported by Profund Innovation, a service facility in the Research Division. The EXIST program is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). Besides the seed-funding grants, there are two additional funding lines: EXIST Research Transfer and EXIST Start-up Culture – the Start-up University. EXIST Research Transfer supports research-based start-up projects that involve complex and risky development.

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