Friday, 22 November 2013


I would love to be my own boss. If you are thinking same, I have gathered some information from a recent workshop 'Starting a business in Germany', which might be useful for you.

Since August 2012, German government has slightly changed their law to allow non-EU students to start their business after their studies here in Germany. According to Residence Act (§ 16), students can also support their studies with additional income being freelancer. For example, they can be self-employed software developer, doctor, architecture or language interpreter, whereas interpreter may not be the best option in Hannover because more than 90% people speak English here. However, you should keep in mind that as a student, you can only work for 20 hours per week. After graduation, if you have a business plan to implement, you can apply for 18-month residence permit but your business idea should be something that supports Germany's economy. For example, there is no Nepalese restaurant in Hannover. So, it can be very appealing business plan. For PhD students, your business should be related to your research. Once you have business plan, you need permission from foreign authority and serially need to register your business at Trade Licensing Office. In case you are interested in freelancing, Tax Office is the place you should go to. EU students have to go through the same process but just that their application will be bit quicker.

On the other hand, if business is not your cup of tea, after your study and during this 18 months, you can find a suitable job.

So what are the things to keep in mind before starting-up?
1. Research your market
2. Develop and test your product
3. Find partners and suppliers. Especially if you don’t speak German, it’s very important to find German partner.
4. Write a business plan (Just a quick search in Google will give you million guides on how to write one)
5.  Get funding.

In Germany, its quite common for students to start their own spin-off companies upon graduation. Laser Zentrum Hannover is one of the spin-off companies of the Leibniz University. If you are ambitious enough, help is everywhere. So imagine you want to start a company after University, German government has these amazing funding supports:

This funding is for innovative technology-oriented start-up projects. The projects have to have a high customer benefit and unique selling points in market. This funding is available for all graduates from Universities. Even if you haven’t finished University, you can still apply for it but the start-up team has to be minimum 3 people.

This is for students, who want to commit on high-technology start-up after their PhD or Masters. Students applying for this funding must have Masters as a minimum qualification. The team also needs to be minimum of 3 academics or technicians.

The Best thing to do:
Develop your idea in your PhD thesis and register a patent through your institute or University. After your study, buy that licence and start a new company with it. That will be very profitable because registering patent is very expensive.

Here are some of the links, which might be useful for you: