Support for startups that contribute to a green economy
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IMPACT of sustainability-oriented startup support

.Green startups have more difficulties raising capital than non-green ones (see Green Startup Monitor 2018). At the same time, they are particularly attractive high potentials. They can develop great performance potential both in terms of economic factors and in terms of their environmental impact.

In view of the necessary transformation toward a sustainable economic system, support for these innovative startups is therefore of great importance in terms of both environmental and economic policy.

With the Green Startup Special Program, the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) is establishing a national funding program for the first time in Germany that specifically supports those startups that make a contribution to a Green Economy. The DBU has the following requirements for funded projects:

  • They should achieve sustainable effects in practice,
  • provide impetus and
  • have a multiplier effect.

However, up to now, there has been no suitable impact model for funding activities with these criteria. Especially for innovative funding approaches, such as the DBU’s Green Startup Special Program, such a model is of great benefit so that tax and funding resources can be used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Project results

The Impact project developed a model to capture, assess, and improve the holistic impact of a startup support program. This included:

  • The integration of sustainability aspects into an impact model of startup support.
  • The development of a concept and methodological framework for a scientifically robust, evidence-based recording of the intervention effect of startup support programs on economic, ecological and social target variables.
  • The provision of indicators and measurement tools to capture and present short- and medium-term differences between the group of funded startups and a control group.

The project strengthened the transformation to a sustainable economy. In this way, it contributed to achieving the goals of the energy transition, Climate Protection Plan 2050 and other sustainability policy objectives in Germany.

In addition, the Impact project improved the possibility for startup funding actors, as well as the DBU, to monitor and control the achievement of the above-mentioned self-set ambition.


The impact of startup support on the market, the environment and society has hardly been analyzed so far. The IMPACT Guide: From Evaluation to Impact Management of Startup Support Programs offers startup support actors, program managers and accompanying research impulses, orientations and approaches on how the long-term impact of startup support programs can be evaluated and managed.

The Impact Guide and the accompanying materials are available as a free download: