Header © Marc Beckmann

Assuming responsibility for a more a peaceful, just and sustainable future is currently enjoying great popularity among founders: Two thirds of the startups surveyed by the Green Startup Monitor 2018 state that they aim to achieve positive social or ecological impact through their business model. However, there is often still a lack of offerings particularly for responsible entrepreneurs.

To support founders in scaling their ventures and to underline the importance of societally and environmentally relevant business models, the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt initiated the accelerator program RESPOND with support from one of Europe’s leading innovation and business creation center UnternehmerTUM.

The application period for RESPOND ends March 1, 2020. The accelerator program will start on June 22, 2020.

RESPOND is a five-month program aimed at founders who use innovative technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to solve complex global challenges. In four face-to-face sprints in Munich, the founders participate in workshops on impact-oriented business, marketing, sales, financing and responsible management.

The participants will have the opportunity to collaborate with the global networks of the BMW Foundation and UnternehmerTUM as well as exchanging experiences among each other. In addition, the participants have free access to the co-working spaces at the premises of UnternehmerTUM in Munich during the five-month program period.

The RESPOND Team; © Erol Gurian

Through the accelerator program, the founders learn to better assess the strengths and weaknesses of their business models and to plan the medium- and long-term goals of their entrepreneurial development. Moreover, they are enhancing their leadership skills.

As for the first cohort, a particular focus is on founders whose business models contribute to achieving one of the three following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda:

  • Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities


“By empowering impact-oriented founders to scale their innovative solutions and technologies, the BMW Foundation wants to contribute to a systemic transformation towards a sustainable economic and financial system,” said Dr.-Ing. Heba Aguib, Chief Executive RESPOND, BMW Foundation. “Responsible Leadership – that is, leaders taking responsible action – is a key lever to this end. Through programs such as RESPOND, we identify, activate and support leaders who drive this transformation.”

“We believe that startups have the innovative power, creativity, and energy to make an essential contribution to finding solutions to global challenges such as the climate crisis and social inequality,” said Miki Yokoyama, COO for RESPOND at UnternehmerTUM. “RESPOND supports founders who set out to provide answers to global issues.”

More information on applying to the accelerator program is available at respond-accelerator.com.


RESPOND is a BMW Foundation accelerator program operated by UnternehmerTUM that aims to accelerate startups and empower leaders to take their business to the next level. The program supports entrepreneurs who are working towards a peaceful, just and sustainable future in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda. As part of the program, founder teams have access to workshops and mentoring at the intersection of business, society and the environment. In addition, our founders have the opportunity to connect with the global BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network and the extended network of both organizations. The Responsible Leaders Network currently comprises more than 1,800 leaders worldwide who work towards social and political change in and between societies.

About the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

The BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt is an independent corporate foundation whose activities contribute to the mission and social responsibility of BMW Group. The BMW Foundation promotes responsible leadership and inspires leaders worldwide to work towards a peaceful, just and sustainable future. Through its activities, the Foundation aims to advance the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. It encourages leaders to take their social and political responsibility to the next level. To that end, it inspires leaders, providing them with a platform for personal and professional development, and connects them, across nations, regions and sectors, through the global Responsible Leaders Network. The third interdependent component of its work is to invest in initiatives and organizations seeking to address humanity’s social, political and environmental challenges.

About UnternehmerTUM

UnternehmerTUM is a unique platform for the development of innovations. UnternehmerTUM actively identifies innovative technologies and initiates new business through the systematic networking of talents, technologies, capital and customers. UnternehmerTUM offers founders and startups a complete service from the initial idea to IPO. A team of 240 experienced entrepreneurs, including scientists and investors, supports startups with business creation, market entry and financing – also with venture capital. For industry partners, UnternehmerTUM is a central platform for cooperation with new companies, and for expansion of their innovative strength and culture. Founded in 2002 by the entrepreneur Susanne Klatten, UnternehmerTUM is the leading center for innovation and business creation in Europe with more than 50 high-growth technology startups every year – including Celonis, Konux and Lilium.

The BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and UnternehmerTUM are looking for impact-oriented startups for the new accelerator program RESPOND. It supports founders who use innovative technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to create sustainable solutions to global challenges. Applications can be submitted between January 20 and March 1, 2020; the program starts on June 22, 2020

    Find more about the program here!