from pilot
to market readiness

This program is for you, when you

Second batch application closed!

next Application deadline: to be announced

Program duration: May – July 2024


The AI Startup Rising Ignition program is a structured incubator with strategic impulses, individual coaching, and financial support.

In the incubator, we lead ten startups from the pilot phase to market readiness. We offer six coaching modules that build on each other over a period of 10 weeks. The focus is on the optimization and professionalization of your AI technology stack, quality management, sales, venture capital, marketing, and IP + legal.

You get


Each coaching module includes an introductory impulse by top lecturers with exemplary presentation or transferable blueprints. It also includes individual coaching tailored to the startups according to relevance and needs analysis. Some formats are planned as peer learning format in presence to enable exchange among each other, some will take place online.

Financial support

All ten incubator startups additionally receive funding of €10,000. Depending on the status of the startup, the money is transferred directly and a de minimis certificate is issued (incorporated companies) or the respective costs will be reimbursed (pre-foundation projects).

Final Event

Finally, we organize a community event to which we invite startups and corporates for an informal exchange.

After completing our incubator program, you will be ideally prepared to enter the market and make your innovative vision take off.

Coaching modules

Most workshop days will take place May and June, we will provide a detailed schedule after your application.

Launch module

The launch module is about planning and executing a successful pilot phase and preparing for market entry. The startups are in this phase with pilot customers and develop the maturity of their product in a targeted manner.

  • How do we design the pilot phase and how do we reach market readiness?
  • How do we build a quality management and optimize product and processes?
  • Which metrics of our value creation are particularly relevant and how do we measure our effectiveness and efficiency? (Lean Analytics)


The sales module is about the sales process and sales competence.

  • Which sales model suits us and how do we proceed strategically?
  • How do we implement our sales process? What metrics do we pay attention to? Which tools support us in the process?
  • How do we go into acquisition talks and how do we negotiate specifically?

AI / Technology

The AI-Tech module is about quality standards and technological quality management. We plan to cooperate with the AI Quality and Testing Hub in Frankfurt.

  • How do we meet quality requirements for data-based B2B solutions?
  • What do we need to pay attention to in terms of the “EU AI Act”?
  • How do we increase the technological efficiency of our software?
  • What is the need for an audit/assessment of the AI tech stack/process and how do we best use that for continuous improvement?

IP / Legal

The IP+Legal module deals with all relevant legal aspects of your startup with a focus on property rights, protective measures in product and business model and legal clarifications such as the formulation of general terms and conditions (GTC).

  • How can we build value from our intellectual property?
  • How can we protect ourselves overall in the product and in the business model?
  • Which legal regulations, such as general terms and conditions, do we need to have clarified before entering the market?


In the investment module we deal with your financial investment roadmap. Here we teach the basics of venture capital, clarify the investor perspective, reflect with you on possible shareholder models and develop a roadmap for the next few years.

  • How does venture capital work?
  • How do we reach investment readiness?
  • How do VCs rate our startup?
  • What might our investment roadmap look like?


In the marketing module we discuss your positioning and differentiation in the market.

  • How do we position ourselves in the market?
  • How can we distinguish ourselves from the competitors?
  • What is the core of our brand and how do we convey this?
  • What is special about our communication measures?


What are the eligibility requirements for the incubator program?

We expect you to participate regularly and to plan the appropriate capacities for the face-to-face and online workshops. You will receive a schedule with the dates as early as possible. For more information, see the application page.

Does our startup have to be based in Hesse or do we have to move to Hesse for this program?

No, since AI Startup Rising is financed by federal funds from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), an application from other federal states is also possible. We would welcome if you can describe how you want to use the hessian.AI network for your further development. And of course we expect that the journey for the dates taking place in Hessen should not be a problem for you.

How does the payment of the prize money work?

Established companies receive the prize money in their business account. Non-incorporated companies can settle material costs in the amount of the prize money via AISR. Payment as prize money to a private account is not possible in this case.

You have further questions?

Then contact the team of AI Startup Rising: Feel free to use the open office hours on the last Wednesday of the month or make an individual coaching appointment. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow AI Startup Rising on the social media channels of hessian.AI.


Second batch application is closed

Any questions?

IGNITION Cohort 2023