FAU Sandbox: Set up your own start-up

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Applications for the FAU Sandbox can be made from 1 June to 12 July 2020. In this picture: Kick-off event in the Zollhof Tech Incubator in Nuremberg. (Image: Victoria Goldberg)

A good start for start-ups

Since summer semester 2019, FAU Sandbox has been offering students 2000 euros of funding to found their own start-up. In addition to funding, students who are taking their first step towards becoming entrepreneurs receive help and support in other areas.

Making it easy to start a company

Students often hesitate when it comes to turning their promising ideas into reality. Why? ‘An idea usually doesn’t get off the ground because people think the obstacles are too difficult to overcome,’ says Melanie Viehbahn, who works at the Central Institute of Healthcare Engineering (ZiMT) and is responsible for the FAU Sandbox. Many people are put off by the task of trying to set up a company alongside studying for a degree.

Although several state and private funding opportunities are available, they are not geared towards students. ‘We want to break down these barriers with the FAU Sandbox. Students can therefore apply simply by submitting a short pitch,’ explains Melanie Viebahn. ‘We don’t ask for a business plan that has been defined to the very last detail. We are much more interested what the applicants have to offer in terms of solving a specific problem and how they plan to market their solution?’ A rough plan for the next two months is also a good idea. ‘The money from the FAU Sandbox can be used, for example, to set up a website, although funding is not limited to online or IT start-ups,’ explains Melanie Viehbahn. Students from all subjects are welcome to apply.’

What makes the FAU Sandbox different from other types of funding for start-ups is that entrepreneurs retain all the rights to the products they develop. In contrast to the business angels you might see on television, Melanie Viebahn says that FAU’s Sandbox is not concerned about securing a share of the profits if the venture is a success.

Entrepreneurial skills as a bonus

From joint kick-off events and seminars aimed at teaching specific skills, for example at the Zollhof Tech Incubator in Nuremberg, to selected teaching units about entrepreneurship at the University: In addition to start-up funding, Sandbox participants also gain vital skills for starting their own company and meet other entrepreneurs and successful business people.

Timeline for the FAU Sandbox 2020

  • June 1 2020: Start of call for applications
  • July 12 2020: Deadline for applications
  • July 20 2020: Team selection is announced
  • July 31 2020: Kick-off in d.hip
  • September 2020: Mid-term presentation in Brucklyn Hall
  • October 11 2020: Final pitch during the Digital Tech Summit

All info available at


Sandbox mid-term presentations

During the mid-term presentations in Brucklyn Hall, the teams were able to convince the jury, mentors, partners, potential investors and invited guests about their business idea. (Image: Melanie Viebahn)

Sandbox Networking

In addition to presenting their pitches, the teams had plenty of time for networking and exchanging experiences in start-ups. (Image: Melanie Viebahn)

Final of the 2019 FAU Sandbox

The grand final of the 2019 FAU Sandbox took part during the Digital Tech Summit in Nuremberg. (Image: Melanie Viebahn)

Sandbox kick-off event in Zollhof

The FAU Sandbox started with a kick-off event at Zollhof Tech Incubator in Nuremberg. After a short introduction, each team gave a short presentation about its business idea. The teams were then assigned a mentor according to the topic and sector of their idea. (Image: Victoria Goldberg)

Sandbox Final

During the final presentations about their business ideas, the teams were given another opportunity to make a convincing case to the audience. The results showed that the support provided to the teams by the FAU Sandbox in the form of initial start-up funding, mentoring and workshops was a complete success. (Image: Victoria Goldberg)