crowdFANding - Success factors for crowdfunding in the sports sector

Initial situation

Over the past few years, crowdfunding has developed into a successful financing alternative for creatives, artists, start-ups and also for film or real estate projects. In the sports sector, this alternative form of participation is a relatively recent phenomenon, especially when it comes to football and its fans, despite the fact that this sport offers particularly excellent conditions for potentially very successful targeted crowdfunding campaigns due to its internationally well-connected (fan) community.


The citizen's initiative ”Unser Stadion Jena e.V.” has asked the financing experts at the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy to provide academic support during the initiation and realization of the campaign. They analyzed relevant successful examples of similar national and international campaigns and supervised the project throughout in order to determine scientifically sound, accurately matched success factors for crowdfunding in the sports sector.

The Fraunhofer researchers developed the technical infrastructure for the realization of the campaign in collaboration with Innovation Service Network GmbH, a leading Austrian innovation service provider, and Dr. Willfort, co-founder and President of the European Crowdfunding Network. The research results from the academic support provided were published in the form of articles, conference contributions and a project summary for the citizen's initiative.

Innovationspreis Thüringen innovation award prize-giving ceremony at the Neue Weimarhalle: Host Stephanie Müller-Spirra interviews Toni Schley (on the left) and Robin Bürger from the people's choice award winning crowdFANding project.

”A small, 'crazy' idea grew into what is probably biggest project in the history of German fan culture so far. We are extremely grateful and are hoping for brilliant, long-term and worthwhile follow-on projects for crowdFANding!”


Toni Schley, crowdFANding project coordinator

Further Information

Interview with Dr. Robin Bürger on the topic of ”crowdFANding - Südkurve bleibt!”

Press Review for ”crowdFANding - Südkurve bleibt!”

Press release: crowdFANding: Success factors for crowdfunding in the sports sector


Thüringer Innovationspreis 2016: people's choice award for crowdFANding

Das Projekt „crowdFANding“ hat den Publikumspreis des 19. Thüringer Innovationspreises 2016 gewonnen. Das von der Gruppe Innovationsfinanzierung des Fraunhofer IMW in Leipzig wissenschaftlich begleitete Pilotprojekt konnte sich in der Online-Abstimmung mit über 1.200 Stimmen durchsetzen.

Am vergangenen Mittwoch (23.11.2016) nahmen Projektkoordinator Toni Schley und Gruppenleiter Dr. Robin Bürger die Auszeichnung aus den Händen von Thüringens Wirtschafts- und Wissenschaftsminister Wolfgang Tiefensee entgegen.

Hinter „crowdFANding“ steckt ein innovatives Finanzierungsinstrument, mit dem die Bürgerinitiative UNSER STADION JENA e.V. bei der Kampagne zum Erhalt der Südkurve im FC Carl Zeiss Jena unterstützt werden konnte und das künftig für weitere Fanprojekte angewendet werden kann. Dank des international ausgerichteten Kampagnenkonzeptes wurden knapp 155.000 Euro von über 2.000 Unterstützern aus 35 Ländern gesammelt.

„Wir freuen uns über die Bestätigung, die wir durch den Innovationspreis erfahren haben“, so Dr. Robin Bürger. „Mit dieser zusätzlichen Motivation ausgestattet, widmen wir uns der wissenschaftlichen Auswertung des Pilotprojekts und freuen uns auf das Nachfolgeprojekt crowdFANding 2. “

Der Thüringer Innovationspreis wird jährlich von der Stiftung für Technologie, Innovation und Forschung Thüringen an Innovatoren aus der Region verliehen. Eine Jury prämiert die Gewinner in den Kategorien „Tradition & Zukunft“, „Industrie & Material“, „Digitales & Medien“, „Licht & Leben“ und „Junge Unternehmen“. Außerdem werden der Ernst-Abbe-Preis für innovatives Unternehmertum und der Publikumspreis verliehen.


© Ostthüringer Zeitung/Tino Zippel

A group photo of the award winners and nominees at the Thuringian Innovation Award ceremony, which was held at the New Weimar Hall.

© Ostthüringer Zeitung/Tino Zippel

Innovationspreis Thüringen innovation award prize-giving ceremony at the Neue Weimarhalle: Host Stephanie Müller-Spirra interviews Toni Schley (on the left) and Robin Bürger from the people's choice award winning crowdFANding project.

© Ostthüringer Zeitung/Tino Zippel

The Thuringian Innovation Award ceremony was held at the New Weimar Hall. The Minister for Economic Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee presented the Public Award to Toni Schley and Robin Bürger (from left) on behalf of the crowdFANding project.

Innovationspreis Thüringen 2016: Fraunhofer project ”crowdFANding” wins people's choice award


The ”crowdFANding” project has won the 19th Innovationspreis Thüringen 2016 people's choice award. The pilot project, which enjoyed the scientific support of the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW's Innovation Financing unit, won with more than 1,200 votes in the online poll. The project coordinator Toni Schley and the head of the unit, Dr. Robin Bürger, accepted the award, presented by the Minister of Economy, Science and Digital Society of the State of Thuringia, Wolfgang Tiefensee, on 23 November 2016.

An innovative financing instrument is behind crowdFANding, which successfully supported the citizens' initiative UNSER STADION JENA e.V., a campaign led by FC Carl Zeiss Jena fans who wanted to remain in their traditional Südkurve stands at the southern end of the club's new stadium. The instrument can also be transferred to other future fan projects. Thanks to the international appeal of the campaign concept, almost 155,000 euros were collected from more than 2,000 supporters in 35 countries.

”We are pleased that our work has been given such recognition in the form of this innovation award,” says Dr. Robin Bürger. ”Fueled by this additional motivation, we will dedicate ourselves to the scientific evaluation of the pilot project and are looking forward to the follow-on project crowdFANding II.”

The Innovationspreis Thüringen innovation prize is awarded every year by the Stiftung für Technologie, Innovation und Forschung Thüringen foundation to innovators based in the region. A jury selects the winners in the categories ”Tradition & Future”, ”Industry & Materials”, ”Digital & Media”, ”Light & Life” and ”Start-ups”. Other awards are the Ernst-Abbe-Preis for innovative entrepreneurship and a people's choice award.

Learn more about the ”crowdFANding” project on the project website and at

See for more detailed information about the awards. 

The ball just keeps rolling – crowdFANding international

Since the ”crowdFANding” project was launched on 6 June, it has attracted an increasing level of interest. So far, fans from 23 different countries have already pledged their support. More than 1,250 of them have contributed to the recent breaking of the 100,000 euro mark. crowdFANding is therefore more than a regional project.

Its supporters are based in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Austria, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, Wales – and Germany, of course. New interim goals have already been set, and we are looking forward to being able to welcome country number 25 on board soon.

In the run-up to the next Olympic Games, we are also focusing on making the campaign even more international and reaching many more supporters. In view of the success so far and the numerous ideas, 15 August seemed too early as the cut-off date for funding. Considering the existing potential, we made the unusual decision of extending the project duration until 15 September. We are hoping to gain even more wide-spread support over these last months, in line with what the founder of the modern Olympics said: ”The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part!”

The active fans of FC Carl Zeiss Jena intend to co-design the redevelopment of the football stadium at the Ernst-Abbe-Sportfeld grounds for the benefit of this generation of fans as well as future generations to ensure that the SÜDKURVE stand at the southern end of the stadium, the traditional base of the active FCC fans, can be retained. ”The 'Südkurve' is an incredibly important place for the local fan scene when it comes to socializing, and it is also a place they particularly identify with […] finding a new location inside the stadium for them and the associated restructuring is far more likely to have a detrimental effect on the desired improvement of stadium safety,” the sports sociologist Prof. h.c. Dr. Gunter A. Pilz also emphasized in an interview yesterday.

The idea behind crowdFANding

Against the background of the most recent European football championships in France, we Fraunhofer economists are supporting the crowdfunding campaign ”crowdFANding – Südkurve bleibt!”, which is aimed at an international audience, from a scientific perspective with the objective of investigating the success factors for crowdfunding campaigns, especially in the sports area. Crowdfunding is developing into a successful financing alternative that emphasizes the community and team spirit demonstrated in the game and also by its fans. Not least, this project is special because people from different countries and backgrounds are cooperating across and with various subcultures. It is precisely this mix that constantly enriches crowdFANding with new ideas.

In keeping with the motto ”One voice has little chance of being heard – hundreds maybe – but thousands of voices cannot be ignored!”, the Unser Stadion Jena e.V. citizen's initiative and the financing experts from the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW are providing the fans and supporters of FC Carl Zeiss Jena with an innovative financing method to ensure that the SÜDKURVE can remain the place where the active FCC fans gather to support their club and watch the home games.