Help make the world's most important to-do list a reality: Intro to AHEAD's new SDG track

Together with his team, Leo Mück has developed the new SDG track of the AHEAD program as project manager. Leo is part of the AHEAD program management, initiator & co-founder of a social start-up, studied Management of Social Innovations and is currently working on his part-time MBA Green Economy & Digital Innovation. In this interview, he answers your most important questions about the new SDG track. Get to know Leo and our new SDG track:

Leo Mueck - SDG Track

Leo, what are the UN's SDGs and why should Fraunhofer scientists apply for this particular AHEAD track?

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals are probably the most relevant to-do list in the world: they describe the key action areas for a sustainable world by 2030, and are intended to serve as the North Star for ensuring sustainable development at the economic, social as well as environmental levels worldwide. That is why we at AHEAD have designed the special SDG track for impact-oriented spin-off and licensing projects.


What is AHEAD’s SDG-Track exactly?

The SDG track is a special funding program for transfer projects that substantially contribute to one or more Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to the financial and methodological support provided by the AHEAD program, participating teams are supported by renowned coaches and experts regarding their impact and the achievement of their social, ecological and economic goals in an accompanying process.

Who can participate?

Any transfer project that meets AHEAD's requirements and makes a significant contribution to achieving one or more SDG targets.

For AHEAD, these are Technology Readiness Level 3 for spin-off and TRL 5 for licensing and availability of team and technology. Additionally, the project must have objectifiable sustainable goals. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us at any time.

What exactly does the SDG track funding look like?

The projects go through a modified AHEAD Phase 1 and learn how to deal with the challenges of impact-oriented start-ups as well as how to use them for their own benefit. Leading social entrepreneurship experts support you with workshops, individual coaching and their network.

In addition to the regular Phase 1 budget, teams will receive an additional 50 TEUR, which will be used to improve the TRL and will also be RohWi effective.

In addition to the acceleration in the SDG Track, SDG teams benefit from other funding opportunities around AHEAD, such as matching with experts who can complement your team.

How can scientists apply for the SDG Track?

Simply apply for the regular AHEAD program, in which the SDG Track is integrated. In addition to the general criteria of the AHEAD program, explain which SDGs your project contributes to and what impact can be expected from your idea or technology. If you meet both criteria. Participate in the AHEAD bootcamp. And pitch your project at the end of the bootcamp in front of the AHEAD jury and a panel of sustainability experts. If you convince both committees, you will receive double funding as a social startup within the AHEAD program.

How are the SDG spin-offs selected?

Teams apply for the regular AHEAD process and additionally for funding under the SDG track. Prior to the bootcamp, you will be notified if you are eligible for the SDG track. Teams that meet the AHEAD criteria but do not meet conditions for the SDG track will simply participate as regular AHEAD teams in the bootcamp and subsequent selection process.

How does the sustainability jury select projects for the AHEAD program?

Teams are evaluated in two ways: The AHEAD jury evaluates a team's spin-off and transfer opportunities. Candidates for the SDG track are additionally reviewed by a sustainability jury, which evaluates the impact in terms of the SDGs. Teams whose technology and business model contribute substantially to the realization of one or more SDGs are included in the SDG track in addition to the AHEAD program and are specifically funded in Phase 1 of the program. Approximately five to six projects will be accepted per batch.

Your tip for scientists interested in the SDG track:

The SDG track is our starting point for potential spin-offs and licensing projects that want to be successful but also have a clear impact as a goal. We can offer a lot right now, but we're also learning every day - for example, by asking questions and talking to you. Get in touch with us with any questions or challenges you have and help us make the SDG track the world-class pioneer project for sustainable research startups.


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