Note: The next round of applications is expected to open on 1 February 2024.
Innovation Fund Denmark invests in translating promising ideas into new solutions that have the potential to create growth and employment in Denmark, and which also contribute to solving some of society's challenges.
Innofounder is a 12-month full-time course for entrepreneurs with a higher education.
The purpose of the course is to accelerate the development of innovative entrepreneurial ideas from the early stages to a stage where the company becomes financially sustainable - either through sales or by raising additional public or private investment
The Innofounder course consists of:
- Salary financing so you can work full time (37 hours a week) to develop your entrepreneurial idea and build a business around it.
- Sparring and learning in the form of i.a. workshops, mentoring sessions and feedback from other entrepreneurs so you can mature your idea and develop as an entrepreneur.
We invest in entrepreneurial ideas for new products, services or technologies within any subject area and industry. When you write your application, you must choose which theme your application fits into:
- Green technology development and innovation
- Life science, health and welfare technology
- Strategic and challenge-driven innovation within new technologies
- Or off topic
The idea is at an early stage, where significant development is still lacking before the product, service or technology is fully designed and developed and the business model is in place. However, the idea should go beyond the idea stage. This may mean, for example, that there has been a structured dialogue with a significant number of potential customers / users, that an early prototype exists and that a team has been established around the idea.
You can apply both as an individual and as an entrepreneurial team of up to 3 founders.
You can apply for Innofounder if you have completed a higher education before the start of the course.
You can therefore apply if you are a student, but complete your education before the Innofounder course starts.
The Innovation Fund wants to promote diversity in all its aspects. Therefore, all interested parties, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender identity, disability status, neurodiversity, age or subject areas, etc., are encouraged to apply for the fund's programs.
You can apply individually or in a team of up to 3 founders.
During the course, the individual founder must:
- work full time (37 hours per week) in the company.
- own a minimum of 12.5% of the company.
- have no other substantial education or gainful employment in addition.
- work on the idea in Denmark and actively participate in the sparring process.
You must have established a company with a Danish CVR number when the Innofounder process starts (not necessary when the application is submitted).
- must not be more than 3 years old at the time of application.
- differs markedly from existing or former companies owned, operated or financed by the applicant.
- is primarily based on the entrepreneurial idea. And thus does not have significant or regular revenue from sales of other products that the company already has on the market.
- possesses the rights to commercial exploitation of the idea.
- must not have previously been admitted to the Innofounder course.
Are you not a Danish citizen?
If you are from a country outside the EU/EEA, you must, in order to apply, have a Start-up Denmark visa, or have obtained your education from a Danish educational institution or have worked for at least 1 year in a company / public institution in Denmark before for the last 3 years.
If you are admitted to the program, you must apply for a Start-up Denmark visa in order to run an independent business in Denmark.
If you are from an EU/EEA country, you must, if you are admitted to the program, have proof of registration, which is ordered from the State Administration.
You can be admitted to the Innofounder course if you have an innovative entrepreneurial idea that requires development in order to enter the market.
Your idea must meet the following requirements:
The idea is innovative
The innovation can lie in combining knowledge with new or existing solutions in a way that creates new solutions in the form of new behavior, new products, processes, services or technologies.
The idea can be within any subject area.
Solving societal challenges may well be part of your primary purpose, if only your idea has a business strength at the same time.
The idea is not fully developed
Innofounder is for ideas where there is still a significant lack of development before the product, service or technology has been designed and developed and the business model is in place.
The idea should be beyond the idea stage, but still face a significant development in the work with the idea and its commercialization.
That the idea is beyond the idea stage can, for example, mean that:
- you have been in dialogue with a significant number of potential customers/users.
- there exists an early prototype
- a team has been established around the idea.
The idea is not ready for the market yet
Innofounder does not support companies that are completely ready for the market and primarily face challenges related to sales, marketing or scaling. If the product is already on the market and if the features that have not been fully developed have the character of optimizations and further development, the idea is probably too far to be a part of Innofounder.
The idea has not generated revenue
There must not have already been a large turnover and regular sales based on the idea. However, sales may have been made to a lesser extent, e.g. to test the product or qualify the pricing model.
The idea has not already been funded
You may have been promised external financing, which is triggered, for example, after a central milestone has been reached. However, if there is already access to significant capital that can finance the impending development and commercialization, it can be judged that the idea is too mature to be covered by Innofounder.
A specific assessment is made for each case, whether the revenue achieved is too large and whether too much external capital has been attracted. The assessment is i.a. depending on which industry the idea is within and what stage of development the idea is at. For example, there may be a big difference in the capital requirement in a startup within medico, seen in relation to a consumer-facing software solution - and how much external capital you may have obtained depends on this need.
We invest in entrepreneurial ideas in any field and industry. When you write your application, you must choose which theme your application fits into:
• Green technology development and innovation
• Life science, health and welfare technology
• Strategic and challenge-driven innovation within new technologies
• Off topic
If an application is submitted under one of the three themes, but does not receive a grant from this pool because the pool is exhausted, the application will automatically be transferred to processing under the non-thematic funds. If, on the other hand, an application is submitted under the non-themed funds, but also fits into one of the three themes, the Innovation Fund can choose to process the application in the relevant themed pool first, before it – if no grant is obtained here – is processed under the non- - themed funds.
Read more about the individual themes in the guidelines under section 1.3.
You can apply for Innofounder in either small, medium or large.
Should you look for small, medium or large?
When deciding whether to apply for small medium or large, you should consider:
- Can you ask 1, 2 or 3 people who meet the conditions for a founder?
- What do you need to do to reach a point where your business becomes financially sustainable when the Innofounder process ends?
- Do you have with the applied investment financing for the people who are essential for the progress of the idea?
The monthly grant must enable you to work full time on the idea during the course. But it is up to the company how much is actually paid out for salary and how much of the monthly subsidy is spent on other purposes in the company.
The Innofounder course is full-time for you as an Innofounder, and you can therefore not spend hours during the course in another publicly funded project, eg an Innobooster project.
The development grant can cover expenses for services and materials, eg:
- Equipment rental
- IT / hardware it requires particularly powerful computers or other specialized hardware to develop your entrepreneurial idea
- External advice
- Development and testing of prototype
- Purchase of software
- Market maturation and product validation
- Travel costs in relation to e.g. customer meetings and conferences
The development grant can NOT cover costs of a more operational nature, eg:
- Ordinary office supplies (pens, postage, printer paper, etc.)
- PC for ordinary office work, telephones and the like
- Catering or breakfast arrangements
The Innofounder course lasts 12 months.
You can choose when you start the course for a period of up to 4 months after you have received a commitment to be admitted to the program.
The sparring and learning part of the Innofounder program is referred to as the Innofounder incubator and it is one of the largest in the Nordics, with an intake of over 100 startups per year.
The Innofounder incubator runs for 12 months alongside the salary financing, intending to enable startups to become financially sustainable after 12 months.
The Innofounder incubator is lightly structured compared to most other incubators and accelerators. Startups do not have to meet any pre-defined goals and will not be offered a fixed trajectory.
The goal is for every startup to become financially sustainable when the salary financing stops. This is achieved by developing a solid foundation for their business by working intensely on building their company and product or service simultaneously. Most elements of the incubator are voluntary. Read about the mandatory elements and the expected workload below.
The 12-month course is divided into two phases: The Discovery Phase (months 1 and 2) and the Build Phase (months 3 to 12).
Each startup in the incubator is onboarded during the Discovery Phase. Here, the founders meet the team behind the incubator – The Operator Team. The incubator concept is introduced, and everyone gets to know each other. The Discovery Phase culminates with every startup getting their tailor-made Innofounder Development Plan, outlining how they can benefit from the incubator, including:
- The mentors they will be working with.
- The Innofounder peers they can connect and exchange experiences and challenges with.
- The ecosystem players, organizations, and people in the Innofounder network relevant to connect with.
- Elements from the Founder’s Library and Tracks that are particularly relevant to them.
The 10 months Build Phase is where the startup team meets with their mentors, may participate in selected Tracks, attend events, meet with key ecosystem players, and generally network.
Read more about mentoring, networking, and Tracks below.
Startups in the incubator can operate in any space, vertical, or industry and apply any revenue model while leveraging any type of technology, so the incubator is designed to facilitate the overall process of business, service and product development. We empower founders to adopt a healthy and efficient founder mindset to become leaders of growth companies. These focus areas are the foundation of the five main pillars of the Innofounder incubator:
The five main pillars of the Innofounder incubator
- The Innofounder Platform
Every startup team has access to three mentors:
- A Business Mentor: an expert in building businesses and/or teams. Founders meet with their Business Mentor for 1.5 hours every second week throughout the Build Phase.
- An Alumni Mentor: An Innofounder alumnus who knows how to leverage the offerings in the incubator.
- A Design Mentor (optional) to support the startup in utilizing design tools and methods to understand better their customer's need, their market, and how the product should be developed to meet user needs.
The Innofounder Platform is one of the largest communities of founders in the Nordics. Here all founders meet, connect, share, and grow. It includes:
- A gateway to be connected to our extensive community of experts, advisors, founders, and investors in the Innofounder Network.
- An extensive and ever-growing Founders Library with video masterclasses about everything from sales to AI/ML and how to grow a healthy founder mindset.
- Weekly news from the startup ecosystem.
- Benefits and offers from partner companies:
- Discounts on office spaces in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg, and Sønderborg.
- Credits and discounts on software like HubSpot, Google, ClickUp, Miro, Microsoft, AWS, etc.
- Discounted services from startup-friendly advisory companies within: Legal, accounting, soft funding, banking, etc.
Innofounder is a design-driven incubator. By design-driven we mean:
- Innofounder startups get a structured, quick, and iterative approach to understanding their users, validating their assumptions and developing their business.
- They get the best methods and tools to make informed choices about every step taken in business, product, and service development – to involve their users and stakeholders.
- They are offered a design mentor, design workshops, and sessions where they can ask design experts about design aspects when building a business.
- Startups become a part of the incubator's extensive ecosystem of mentors, domain experts, investors, and founders.
- Startups are connected to an Ecosystem Collaborator who adds the individual domain expertise we in the incubator do not focus on.
- Startups are invited to physical meetups and events in Jutland, Funen, and Zealand, focusing mainly on networking and learning with other Innofounders, business mentors, Innofounder partners, and friends.
Tracks are defined by several physical and/or online events and gatherings, 1-on-1's, remote interactions, and deliverables. Startups can voluntarily apply to the following Tracks:
- The Pitch Track to learn how to perfect pitching their company to investors. Completing the Pitch Track is a prerequisite to be able to go on stage for the yearly Innofounder Investor Day with a hundred carefully curated investors from DK and abroad.
- The Equity Funding Track: Funding 101, where startups learn about private investments, how to raise capital, get feedback from an investor, etc.
- The Soft Funding Track to map out relevant funds grant programs and get advice on how to best apply for them.
- Strategic Design-Driven Business Development: On this design track, the companies will be introduced to design methods and tools that can be used strategically to identify, assess, and make decisions in complex problem solving when it comes to creating or developing your business or company.
- Sustainable Design-Driven Business Development: A design track that focuses on how to work with sustainability and circularity. This will help the startup understand how they affect not only their customers or users but, just as significantly, the ecosystem and our planet's resources.
- Digital Ethics Design: A design track where startups with digital solutions develop a language about ethics, through concrete tools, a set of recommendations, and an action-based approach.
These are the mandatory elements with the expected workload in parentheses:
- The Business Mentor Sessions are physical meetings and held every second week in the Build Phase (workload: approximately 20 sessions of 1.5 hours plus preparation in total)
- The Onboarding process in Discovery Phase (workload: up to four full days dispersed over two months)
- Filling out templates and surveys from the Operator Team and Innovation Fund Denmark (workload: one full day of work dispersed over 12 months)
- If startups sign up and are accepted into a Track, it becomes mandatory to finish it (workload: varies depending on the Track, the Pitch Tracks being the most work intense)
After the 12 months, the salary financing and mentoring stop. But all startups are offered – and expected – to remain on the Innofounder Platform, to continue benefiting from the platform elements, and join all physical events forever – including the Pitch Track and the Funding Tracks. The Operator Team would like every founder to continue being a part of the community, sharing their experiences, knowledge, and network – paying it forward.
We call this: “Once an Innofounder, always an Innofounder.”
The Operator Team runs all aspects of the incubator. The team comprises people with solid experience in developing and operating incubators and accelerators, building startups and teams, and an extensive network in the startup ecosystem.
The incubator is operated by a consortium of Danish Design Center and Second Foundation.
If you have questions about the operator, you can contact the Innofounder Operator Team by phone: +45 31 36 79 15
Your application must be created and submitted via the electronic application system: www.e-grant.dk.
You must register as a user of the system with either a username and password or with NemID before you can create an application.
You create a new application by finding the correct entry under "Search options" and pressing "Start your application".
Note that the list of search options is sorted alphabetically, and that the names of all notices from the Innovation Fund start with "IF".
You must write your application in either Danish or English.
1. Project description
The application form in e-grant will guide you through the project description step by step.
- Diploma(s) (for graduates) or documentation for expected graduation date (for students). (Maximum 3 pages per applicant).
- CV with clear indication of the scope and nature of work experience
You are welcome to attach up to 5 pages of extra attachments. It can be, for example, an illustration of the idea, a graphic representation of the competitive situation, expressions of interest or the like.
Market validation is an important element of a good Innofounder application, and a lack of market validation is one of the most frequent reasons for rejection.
In this video, you can meet Anders Søndergaard from Innofounder's assessment committee, who gives some very concrete tips on how to approach your market validation.
In short, a good market validation is a collection of systematically collected data from your customers, users or business partners that confirms that your idea has business potential.
For example, you can collect your data via:
- Interviews with potential customers
- Questionnaire surveys with potential users
- Prototype tests
- Expressions of interest with potential business partners or investors
The best applications are invited to pitch their entrepreneurial idea to the Innovation Fund's expert panel.
The other applications will be rejected.
For the pitch, you will have the opportunity to briefly present the entrepreneurial idea and the team / company behind it. You can be presented in either Danish or English. This is followed by a short question and answer session from the panel.
Dates for pitch are announced well in advance. It is a condition for being admitted to the program that you can participate in the announced dates.
Who judges the application?
The Innovation Fund's employees carry out the initial check to see if the application meets the formal requirements. The Secretariat Management will make the final decision.
The professional assessment is made by a minimum of 2 people:
- 1st reader: has insight into the area broadly - may be employed by the Innovation Fund or affiliated with det faglige vurderingsudvalg.
- 2nd reader: has extensive knowledge of the Innofounder program - is employed by the Innovation Fund.
- Panel: Evaluates the application and asks questions at pitch. 4-5 people with extensive experience in i.a. innovation, entrepreneurship, business development and various industries. The panel at the pitch is composed of people from the Panel Committee for Innofounder.
The Innovation Fund is in the process of recruiting both 1st readers and panel members for the Innofounder program. As soon as they are published you will be able to find them on this page.
The application is assessed on the basis of 3 assessment criteria that weight the same:
1. The quality of the idea
- That it is clear what the entrepreneurial idea consists of.
- That the entrepreneurial idea stems from relevant education, research or work experience.
- That it is clear how the entrepreneurial idea is innovative, by combining knowledge with new or existing solutions in a way that creates new solutions in the form of new behavior and / or new products, processes, services or technologies.
- That the entrepreneurial idea and its implementation is clearly different from competing solutions, products or services.
- That it is probable that there is a need, users, paying customers and a market of a certain size - also preferably internationally.
- That in the long run a financially sustainable business can be established, and that an Innofounder course significantly increases the chances of creating a financially sustainable business based on the idea.
- That the entrepreneurial idea has the potential to create value for Denmark in the form of economic growth and / or solving significant societal challenges.
That the entrepreneurial idea is within the stated thematic area and has the potential to contribute to the achievement of the goals within this theme, including that the possible impact on society is sufficiently substantiated. If an application is listed within the non-thematic means, emphasis is placed on the argument for why the entrepreneurial idea does not fall within one of the three themes.
3. The quality of execution
- That the team has relevant and diverse competencies and experiences to realize the entrepreneurial idea. In addition, that there is a realistic plan for how the team handles a possible. lack of skills.
- That the entrepreneurial idea is realistic and can be implemented in practice (technical and regulatory).
- That it is probable that an Innofounder course can lead to a stage where it is financially sustainable, either through additional external capital (public or private), or by having sufficient turnover to finance the further development
- That the total investment from the Innovation Fund is commensurate with the need, potential and risk profile for the development of the idea.
You will receive a response to the application in e-grant.dk. You will receive a message per. e-mail when there is a decision in e-grant.dk.
All applicants will receive a response to their application 6-8 weeks after the application deadline.
For the application round with a deadline of February 29 at 12:00 noon, pitch days will be held in weeks 19, 20 and 21 and you will receive a final decision on the grant at the end of May 2024.
You will receive a letter of commitment in e-grant, this must be signed and accepted within 4 weeks.
If there are conditions attached to the commitment, they must be met before your payouts can start.
The process can be started no earlier than 2 weeks after signing the commitment letter and fulfilling any conditions attached to the commitment.
The start time for the course is no later than 4 months after you have received your letter of commitment.
The course must be started from the 1st of a month.
Det vil sige, at modtager du fx dit tilsagnsbrev den 6. juli, så kan du vælge opstart af forløbet til enten den 1. august, 1. september eller 1. oktober, såfremt du underskriver dit tilsagnsbrev og opfylder evt. betingelser tilknyttet tilsagnet rettidigt.
Both the monthly grant and the development grant are paid into the company's NEM account.
- The monthly subsidy is paid back.
- The development grant must be paid within 12 months after you have started your Innofounder course. 80% of the development grant is paid at the same time as the first installment of the monthly grant, and the remaining 20% is paid when the final accounts have been approved. and
The amounts are reported to SKAT via the company's CVR number.
The operator who is responsible for the sparring process, continuously evaluates, together with you, progress and challenges. This is to support your progress.
If the progress is not satisfactory, the Innovation Fund may in special cases choose to interrupt your course prematurely.
If there are significant changes with significance for the Innofounder process, you must notify the Innovation Fund as soon as possible, who must approve whether the process can continue under the new circumstances.
Significant changes are eg:
- funding from other public sources
- changes in the approved founding team
- significant changes in the entrepreneurial idea that the company has been granted permission to work on.
- changes in the company's capital situation, eg bankruptcy and suspension of payments or the like.
- If you do not comply with your obligations during the course, the Innovation Fund may choose to interrupt the course completely.
Illness or parental leave
If you fall ill or have to go on maternity leave during your Innofounder course, you can read more about options and rules for this in the applicable guidelines for Innofounder under section 5.
When you complete the course, you must fill in a final account and an evaluation form of your course. It is a condition of getting the final payout.
The final accounts: submitted no later than 3 months after you have completed the course.
An auditor's statement must be made for the final accounts. The auditor's statement must document that the submitted accounts are correct and that the grant has been used in accordance with the grant basis.
You will be reminded of the final accounts and final evaluation via e-grant.dk
T: +45 61 90 50 00
Phone hours: Tuesday and Thursday: 9.00-12.00 CET
E-grant technical questions?
Contact e-grant support
T: +45 33 92 91 90
If you have submitted an application or have a grant from Innovation Fund Denmark, please contact us via your case in e-grant.
The Assessment Committee and Panel Committee for Innofounder has been appointed by the Innovation Fund's Board of Directors with the purpose of assisting with professional assessments in connection with the Fund's investments in research, technology and innovation within the Innofounder program.
See the members of the two committees here: