Research Topics

With the data of the KfW/ZEW Start-Up Panel research questions can be examined which until now had only little empirical evidence. The following list provides examples for relevant research themes. The surveys of the KfW/ZEW Start-Up Panel are designed as so-called “bus” surveys. This means that along with the standard questions that remain the same every year, additionally different focus themes are included.

Survival, Growth and Success of Formations

What percentage of formations survives in the middle-term (the first six years after start-up)? How do formations develop in terms of the number of employees, turnover and profit? What are the determinants (e.g. financial structure, innovation activity, start-up size, industry, characteristics of the founders and strategy of the company) these developments are dependent on?

Finance and Investment

How are the financial requirements of start-ups and young companies distributed in the initial years after the formation? At what point in time are reinvestments and expansion investments typically made? How is the financing situation of high-tech foundations in comparison to that of non-high-tech foundations? Which sources of financing are used most frequently in which sectors? What is the role of venture capital or business angels in comparison to that of bank loans and cash flow financing? Are there changes in the typical financial structure of young companies in the course of time (e.g. seed-finance through business angels, expansion financing through venture capital)?


What information is necessary for founders and new companies in the first years after start-up? What consulting and qualification measures are reasonable with regard to a firm’s stage of development?

Innovation Behaviour

How do founders and new companies succeed in acquiring a long-term competitive advantage (e.g. through product and process innovation, or marketing, finance and organisational innovation)? Where does the knowledge to improve existing products and services or to develop products that are new to the market come from? Is the cooperation with universities and other research institutes advantageous for the generation of knowledge?

Labour demand

How do new (technology-oriented) companies in the medium or in the long term meet their requirements of having highly qualified employees? To what extent are they successful in competing for highly educated people in the labour market? Do they educate themselves, enabling them to ensure that their employees are qualified?

Market entry and firm strategies

What strategies do founders choose and what are the differences with regard to the industry and the financial situation of the company? Are there “best-practise strategies”? Are companies which are flexible – i.e. those that have changing strategies – more successful?