ICM Early Ride Program 2024

Move your Idea forward!

The three-month incubation program for early-stage innovation projects

The three-month incubation program for early-stage innovation projects, the ICM Early Ride Program, is an incubator program for innovation projects originating from the academic environment in Baden-Württemberg, with a strong focus on mobility and production. We assist students, PhD candidates, and post-docs from research institutions in exploring the potential of their research and igniting their entrepreneurial spirit.


The combination of skill development for implementing innovations in various contexts and the involvement of established companies creates an optimal environment for all participants. Participants learn to think entrepreneurially and discover, test, and leverage market potentials.

Who can participate?

  • You are employed at a university, college or university of cooperative education in Baden-Württemberg or are currently still studying there,
  • you would like to take your idea to the next level,
  • you have just founded your start-up based in Baden-Württemberg or intend to do so in Baden-Württemberg,
  • your idea/your solution/your technology can be applied to products or processes in the mobility or production sector and
  • you are interested in learning the basics of setting up a start-up?

Two-stage Program

The ICM Early Ride Program consists of a preliminary qualification program aimed at providing orientation and assessment to determine the direction your journey can take. During this stage, we will explore the potential of your idea and provide initial business basics and tools. Subsequently, the ICM Early Ride Program establishes all relevant fundamentals.

Depending on the maturity of your idea, participation in one or both stages is possible.

Application deadlines
The application deadline for the Qualification Program has already expired.
Deadline to apply for the ICM Early Ride Program: August 22, 2024.

Qualification Phase

After participating in the qualification phase, you will be able to:

  • Assess the journey from idea to your own start-up,
  • assess the market potential of your idea, solution or technology,
  • assess your own motivation and entrepreneurial aptitude,
  • identify real problems that you can solve with the help of your research results.

The application deadline for the Qualification Program has already expired.

Modules of the qualification phase

The qualification phase runs from July 4th to July 25th, 2024.

Assessing Personal Motivation and Entrepreneurial Suitability

This module focuses on self-assessment and exploring one's own motivation. Teams are guided through targeted questions in a workshop to gain initial insights into where their journey could lead.

Defining a Product and Assessing Market Potential

We focus on the individual skills of the teams and their research findings. These insights are consolidated and translated into potential use cases. Then, consideration is given to who might find these solutions interesting. Here begins the journey: we generate initial product ideas with the potential for market success.

Identifying, Describing, and Formulating Hypotheses for Real Problems

We address these questions: What entrepreneurial opportunities lie behind a problem? Which problems are worth solving? How do I approach a problem? And how can a problem become the starting point for a start-up?

Being able to assess the journey from idea to one's own startup and increase implementation speed

This is a compilation of useful tools without a workshop taking place. Teams receive a roadmap outlining the rough trajectory towards startup: What milestones should be achieved, and how can they be reached faster? The offered resources also include tools for AI logo creation, branding tools, AI website tools, templates, AI sparring partners, custom GPTs, and much more.

ICM Early Ride Program

After participating in this program, you will be able to:

  • Identify real customer problems and translate them into scalable business models.
  • Identify your target market and develop a marketing strategy.
  • Deploy strategies and tactics to leverage sales as a tool for company growth.
  • Develop a long-term roadmap for sustainable company growth.
  • Understand investors and the financing landscape.
  • Deliver compelling pitches to customers and investors.

Apply here until August 22,2024!

Modules of the ICM Early Ride Program

The ICM Early Ride Program runs after the preceding qualification phase, from September 12th to December 5th, 2024.

Defining Potential Applications and Formulating the Make-or-Break Hypothesis

In this module, participants learn to define potential applications for their idea or technology (based on market potential analysis from the qualifying round). They learn about the Value Proposition Canvas and formulate their Make-or-Break Hypothesis. This hypothesis will be tested throughout the program and forms an initial basis for starting the entrepreneurial journey.

Validating Critical Hypotheses and Aiming for Problem-Solution Fit

Participants deepen their understanding of problem theory and learn about the importance and path to problem-solution fit. They validate their Make-or-Break Hypothesis and develop further critical hypotheses. Through business experiments and iteration processes, they work on a solid product foundation. This module equips teams with tools to gradually achieve problem-solution fit.

Developing an Initial Business Model and Reducing Uncertainties

This module focuses on developing a preliminary business model. Participants learn about the essential elements of a company's overall concept (business model), how they are interconnected, and how further uncertainties regarding their assumptions can be reduced. This includes the Business Model Canvas, prioritizing hypotheses, and validating the business model.

Serendipity, Opportunity, Exchange

Teams are ready to discuss their idea. At this event, they meet representatives from the industry and teams of others networks and gain valuable insights into the mobility and production sectors. At the same time, there is an opportunity to exchange ideas with relevant individuals, gather feedback, connect, and initiate possible next steps.

Understanding Team Building, Leadership Qualities, and Strategy Development

After laying the foundations for product development and its associated business model, this module addresses the entrepreneurial mindset. Teams receive input on team building, leadership, and strategy development. They learn what it means to build a team, hold a leadership position, and develop effective strategies.

Learning Key Functions of a Startup and Basics of Organizational Development

In this module, participants learn which key functions a startup needs at what time and what they need to consider in organizational development. The focus is on fundamental business functions (including product development, sales, and marketing/brand design), with a particular emphasis on networking and exchange as one of the most important skills of a founding team.

Mastering Presentation and Creating a Basic Pitch Deck

Participants learn about the components of a pitch deck and develop them. They receive tips on how to communicate their project simply, understandably, and in a short time to inspire others. This module marks the conclusion and forms the basis for further steps towards an accelerator program or an innovation project with a company.

The Final Pitches

At the end of our program is Demo Day – a stage for innovation and entrepreneurship. Here, teams have the opportunity to present their matured ideas and projects to a jury and an audience of industry experts, investors, and other interested parties. With passion and persuasion, they express their visions during the final pitches, marking the end of their intensive development phase and opening the door to future opportunities and collaborations.


Dr.-Ing. Sandra Kauffmann-Weiss

Managing Director

+49 1523 9502655

Rick Lindner


+49 173 3767038