Fundamentals and Principles
The Games Lift Incubator aims to enable young developer teams to create successful concepts for digital games with high market potential. Its mission is to provide the developer teams with the necessary resources to allow them to work on their projects with high concentration accompanied by input from experienced industry professionals.
Games Lift supports participating teams for one year: they receive financial support of 15,000 euros, individual mentoring, access to a broad network of industry professionals, and the opportunity for close exchange with other games start-ups. At the heart of the incubator program, there is a workshop program tailored to the needs of game developers from September to early December.
Eligible for support through the Games Lift Incubator are games-related projects. If you are in doubt about whether your project is a fit for the Games Lift incubator, we recommend setting up a consultation appointment with email@example.com.
There are no strict requirements regarding the stage of the project you apply with. It can be a simple concept as well as a prototype or a game that is almost ready for release. On your application, please state what stage the project is in now, how and why you think Games Lift can help you push it to the next step, and what you want to achieve during your time the Games Lift program.
Applying for the Games Lift Incubator
Eligible to apply are both natural persons as well as Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs); developers and developer associations, student teams, start-ups, and teams in the process of founding a company.
- Team size should not exceed 5 members per team.
- All team members should be available to attend Games Lift events and workshops during the incubator year. Please note that Phase 1 (September to early December) can be very time-consuming with several workshops and meetings per week.
- The precondition is always that the team is already based in Hamburg or can prove that they will relocate their residence to Hamburg or open a subsidiary or branch establishment in Hamburg upon entering the Games Lift Incubator program.
If de minimis subsidies are involved, yes, but these may not exceed a total volume of €200,000 in three years from the first subsidy. Other public subsidies that are not subject to the de minimis regulation can be applied independently of this. Gamecity Hamburg must be consulted for a planned accumulation of subsidies for a project supported by Gamecity Hamburg.
If you are already receiving funding through the Gamecity Hamburg Prototype Funding Program, you cannot be granted funding through the Games Lift Incubator at the same time for the same project. It is however possible to receive both fundings for the same project if the funding periods do not overlap. If you are applying for the Incubator with one project while being granted the prototype funding for another project, this is generally possible if you can plausibly demonstrate how your team can handle each project and that it does not affect the timing or any other aspects of your prototype funding contract. Please make sure to discuss this in your consultation appointment before applying.
Yes, if you can prove or credibly assure that the team will relocate their residence to Hamburg or open a subsidiary or branch establishment in Hamburg.
Application & Awarding process
Gamecity Hamburg runs one application period for Games Lift each year. The application phase for Games Lift 2023 ran from May 2 (1:00 pm) to June 20 (11:59 pm). The next application round will be announced in early 2024. To make sure you are up to date with all deadlines regarding our funding programs, join our Discord Server and subscribe to our monthly newsletter. A detailed document on How to apply for the Games Lift Incubator can be found here and will take you through the application form step by step.
We strongly recommend a consultation appointment before submitting the application. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and include the following information:
- Short project outline (max. half a page of text or a slide) of the project
- Background of the team (max. half a page of text or a slide)
- All your questions regarding the application
Interested in applying next year? Leave us your name & email here and be among the first to know about upcoming application dates.
The awarding committee will review all valid applications and invite teams to an online pitch. Based on the pitches, the committee will give a recommendation on which five teams will enter the Games Lift Incubator program.
The applicants will be informed by Gamecity Hamburg about the date and necessary preparation for the pitch in front of the awarding committee in time. During the pitches, the contents of the application documents will be presented by the applicants and the awarding committee will have the opportunity for further questions.
Teams can receive an expense allowance of up to €15,000. The first batch of €7,500 will be paid out at the beginning of the program in September. The second batch will be paid out after the team has successfully completed Phase 1 of the Incubator program after the Graduation in December.
The expense allowance can be used to cover project-related costs. This may refer to the livelihood of team members as well as contracting freelancers for tasks on the project as well as software or travel expenses to showcase the project.
No, the funding is granted as a non-repayable grant on a de minimis basis. Only under certain specific circumstances that constitute a breach of the funding contract must the grant be repaid.
- A funding recipient may receive a total amount of up to €200,000 without notification within three years from the date of the first de minimis aid.
- Furthermore, the grant recipient is required to disclose all de minimis aid received during the three years in relation to the maximum allowable de minimis aid. The recipient is also be obliged to declare any aid granted under this policy when applying for other aid.
- If the aid exceeds the permitted thresholds or the highest possible funding rate, the aid is inadmissible and results in the aid not being able to be granted or, if it has been granted, must be recovered in full.
Workshop & Coaching Program
Workshops will cover basic knowledge needed for developing game projects with high quality and market potential like defining your project’s main concept, USPs, needed resources, potential target groups, and market strategy. The program will also cover business and legal aspects relevant for founding and running a company.
Games Lift aims to tailor the workshop program to the teams’ needs based on the project they apply with as much as possible while making sure they stay relevant to all attending teams.
Providing teams with industry knowledge and experience is a primary component of the Games Lift Incubator. Therefore, all teams should be available for all workshops to make sure they can make full use of the program. If a team member should be indisposed for a particular workshop, please give notice to Gamecity Hamburg in advance.
Workshops and talks will be held both online and in person in Hamburg. A detailed schedule will be provided before the beginning of the program to allow participants to plan ahead.
Workshops will be held in German or English with regards to both the language of the speaker and the teams.