Frequently Asked Questions

Who’s behind SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator?

We are a collaboration between the Leipzig Old Cotton Mill (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei), from where we get our Spin, and HHL - Leipzig Graduate School of Management. However, our program is only possible because of the generous support of our partners and mentors.

What does the HHL mean in your name?

HHL is short for HHL - Leipzig Graduate School of Management (previously Handelshochschule Leipzig), a leading private graduate business school and one of our founding partners. HHL has been recognized as one of the best locations for entrepreneurship in Germany (e.g. first place in the Stifterverband der Dt. Wissenschaft’s "Startup Radar") as well as in Europe (e.g. first place for Entrepreneurship globally in the Financial Times Masters in Management Rankings 2012 & 2011). Through HHL we benefit from extensive networks within the entrepreneurial scene in Germany - HHL have alumni founded more than 160 startups and many of them are active as business angels and venture capitalists.

HHL is our origin, but it is not our limitation. SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator is open for everyone.

Is it only available to HHL students, employees or alumni?

No! Any passionate business founders and innovators with marketable business concepts are welcome and can apply for our program. And by all, we mean all!

For us, HHL stands for our origin, and for the entrepreneurial and open mindset of all those involved.

How does the application procedure works?

You will start your application for the program by clicking on the APPLY NOW button. Afterwards you should consider all required documents. We need a Pitch Deck of 10-15 slides and the completely filled in application form. After the current application deadline we will evaluate all applications. Additionally our exclusive advisory board will analyze the 12-15 best applicants during a live pitch. 

What do you do?

We support the growth of entrepreneurial and innovative teams who want to scale up their businesses by providing access to infrastructure (co-working offices and technology access), coaching and mentoring, and by sharing our international network of successful business founders, established market players and leading investors. The program is limited to a maximum of 6 months, at no cost and with no equity holding.

What makes you unique?

Clearly, you’ve never been to Leipzig’s creative and inspiring Old Cotton Mill (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei)! The combination of freedom, creativity and inspiration at Leipzig’s Old Cotton Mill together with the entrepreneurial excellence of HHL is truly unique.

We are independent and open to everyone since we are neither part of any group of companies nor shareholders in our startups.

For those who do not yet have a great business concept or team we offer HHL’s Co-Creation Lab. Established companies who want to innovate or expand their business can participate in HHL’s Innovation Lab.

In addition, we are the first accelerator program in the Leipzig and Central Germany region, a highly-dynamic region with a tremendous density of universities and research institutes.

What does it cost?

SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator is free! We do not take any money or equity. We are financed by our partners. This allows us to act purely in the interest of your startup. But if you are interested in additional funding, we want you to connect to our network of investors first!

Do startups get any money from SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator?

Fortunately we can give each startup a small amount of 6000,00 Euro through our cooperation with the City of Leipzig! This will cover your expenditures such as accomodation and travel costs for sure, since Leipzig offers a good value for money. If you come from Leipzig, this will allow to cover some other expeditures as well. We're sure that you will find something to spend the money ;) However, we do not require an equity share. Moreover, we do connect entrepreneurial and innovative teams to a large group of business angels and investors who have more money and expertise than we could ever have on our own!

Where in Leipzig is SpinLab?

SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator is located in the internationally acclaimed Leipzig Old Cotton Mill (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei), a creative and artistic facility in Leipzig’s hippest Plagwitz district, to the west of the city center. This part of the city has been hailed as a boom area in magazines such as the New York Times and Wirtschaftswoche. Other initiatives such as the Business & Innovation Centre (BIC) Leipzig or the GaraGe (VDI) contribute to the creative and innovative culture of Plagwitz. Many other startups such as Spreadshirt, itCampus and Futalis have settled in the western part of Leipzig.

The city center can be reached within a few minutes by rail (S-Bahn; 9 minutes to central station), tram lines 7, 14, 15 (~15 minutes to central station), car (~15 minutes to central station) or bike (~20 minutes to main station). Leipzig has a well-connected airport.

What about the technical infrastructure in your offices?

We offer access to synchronous high-speed cable internet and fast and secure WIFI using state-of-the-art technology. Leipzig’s Old Cotton Mill (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei) is connected to three modern glass fiber cables. Several rooms and a separate space can be used for telephone calls.

However, for practical reasons we have a “bring-your-own-device” policy. You will get access to our technical infrastructure via your own PC, laptop or tablet.

What is the long-term future for Leipzig’s Old Cotton Mill?

After the SpinLab program, teams can rent flexible office space at Leipzig’s Old Cotton Mill at very fair rates. This offers the opportunity of staying close to our offices and both benefiting from our activities as well as supporting our future development. This way the site will become a lively, highly dynamic and creative space for art, culture and entrepreneurship. It is our utmost desire to preserve the creative and inspiring character of this area by bringing together creative and open-minded people!

Are you focused on online or software businesses?

No! We focus on innovative, technology-oriented, internationally-scalable business concepts. Often this will be digital products and services, but we are not limited in that regard as long as our infrastructure fits your needs (we do not have any dust-free laboratories, for example). Feel free to apply if you have a non-digital product or service!

I don’t have a fully-formed business concept or I still need team members. What should I do?

Those who are either lacking a proper business concept or a world-class team should attend HHL - Leipzig Graduate School of Management’s “Co-Creation Lab”. Integrated into the study programs of HHL - but open to all interested participants for free - entrepreneurial individuals can develop convincing business concepts in interdisciplinary teams, pitching their final concepts after approximately 3 months to a jury of investors and entrepreneurs. After that, your idea and your team will be strong enough to apply for SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator.

Are you trustworthy? What happens to my intellectual property?

Of course we’re trustworthy. If we wanted to take other people’s ideas and start our own company, we would have done it by now. But instead of that we decided to support entrepreneurial individuals! For practical reasons we cannot sign any NDAs prior to your application. We nevertheless commit to respecting your confidentiality.

I’m an investor: how can I invest in your startups?

We have a network of investors who we regularly put in touch with our startups on an individual basis. In addition, we invite investors to a demo day (pitching event) twice a year!

I really like your program. How can I support it?

We’re really grateful for your generous support as a mentor, sponsor, investor, technology partner or simply as someone who spreads the word about our vision! Feel free to contact us.

Is there any way to benefit as an established company?

Of course there is! Established companies who want to innovate or expand their business can participate in the HHL Innovation Lab. Over the course of approximately 3 months your employees work together with students in mixed teams to generate innovative business models. Supervision is provided by HHL professors and external as well as internal experts in modern creativity techniques and the latest research knowledge. Eventually, the best ideas can be put into practice at SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator as project teams, spin-offs or independent startups.