Lean AI Startup Funding

The Lean AI Startup Funding (LAISF) is a program designed to quickly test and validate your idea in the field of AI and turn it into a business case.

6 Months of funding

for either one person full-time or two persons part-time

30,000€ material expenses

for everything you need to prototype and test your idea

The LAISF program

The goal of the Lean AI Startup Funding is to bring ideas from research into practice. Research-driven startup ideas are usually very tech-oriented and have little market readiness. LAISF gives you both the time and the financial freedom to validate your business model, develop your prototype and raise your investment readiness level.

Application options


If you are currently working as a PhD student at one of the hessian.AI partner universities you may apply to change your employment relationship and get exempted from your usual position for the time of the funding.

In this case the application process will be run via your research group leader / hessian.AI Principal Investigator.


In any other case you may apply for a scholarship with conditions based on your qualification (similar to the EXIST Gründerstipendium).

For detailed terms and conditions see the concept paper.


Please note that the legally binding version of the concept paper is the German version.

Awesome to see you want to apply

Check if you’re eligible

You can submit an application for the LAISF if you have

  • A research-driven AI business idea.
  • Not incorporated your company yet.
  • No other parallel funding of this project running.

Unsure if you should apply?

Application process

Applications will be accepted continuously. Funding decisions are made by a independent jury on a regular basis.

Our LAISF-Jury:

Next due date: August 25, 2024

Funding is expected to start 4-6 weeks after the due date. Please note: Before filing your application please contact the AI Startup Rising project team at !

Required documents:


Please submit your application documents as PDF via email to .


My startup is already incorporated. Am I eligible?

No. This is an early-stage support and incorporation within the funding period should be avoided, too, in order to not endanger your follow-up financing through other grants.

My idea does not stem from research. Can I still apply?

Main focus of the Lean AI Startup Funding is to support research-driven ideas. However, if your idea is good and you can argue why your business idea needs this kind of support, we are happy to hear from you. Please note that ideas for AI consultancy are not accepted.

What is expected from me once I get the funding?

After three months you will have to give a presentation about the progress of your project. A written project documentation has to be handed in 6 weeks after the funding period has ended. For further details see the concept paper.

Can I keep working in my regular job besides the funding?

Working besides the funding is allowed for up to 5h per week. However, it is possible to split the funding. In that case working part-time is allowed.

For further questions please contact the AI Startup Rising project team at – we are happy to help!