Starting a business
Universities in the Upper Rhine Valley actively promote spin-offs from within the respective colleges. By doing so, the universities offer numerous support and funding opportunities to start-ups and to those interested in founding their own companies, ranging from the development of ideas and financing issues to networking with investors and business incubators.
Within the framework of KTUR, the university partners have intensified their cooperation in the area of start-ups and bundled resources in order to promote exchange and knowledge on the Upper Rhine. Together, they developed different offers for start-ups and young founders.
KTUR START-UP & INNOVATION NIGHTS
The digital KTUR Start-up & Innovation Night took place on April 21-22, 2021. On two consecutive evenings, universities, start-ups, companies and intermediaries of the Upper Rhine region had the opportunity to get to know each other and to exchange experiences and ideas on how the innovation network in the Upper Rhine region can grow and gain more supra-regional attention. More than 250 participants registered for the two evenings, which were then distributed quite evenly among the various events. The first evening included a panel discussion: a total of six guests from different areas (university, politics, business, start-up scene, etc.) were invited to discuss future cooperation in the area of technology transfer and start-ups in the Upper Rhine. The second evening belonged to the start-ups and the workshops offered by the KTUR working group: 16 start-ups from the fields of health/life sciences and green tech presented themselves in the two parallel sessions.
KTUR START-UP TALKS
The KTUR Start-up Talks first started in spring 2021 as an online lunch talk series to promote entrepreneurship specifically among PhD-students and postdocs. The goal of the series was to inspire students to start their own companies and make it easier for them by providing insider tips and learnings from seasoned entrepreneurs. On average, between 30 and 60 participants attended the virtual lectures. As the feedback to the event was very positive, the organizing team decided to make the whole lunch series sustainable. A second edition of the series followed in fall 2021 and the third edition in spring 2022. The target group was extended to Master and Bachelor students from the Upper Rhine region and beyond to achieve a bigger reach.
START-UP COMPETITION SPARK
In the summer semester 2021, the Foundersclub Freiburg organized its start-up competition SPARK as a trinational event within the framework of KTUR. SPARK aims to provide students with a low-threshold and supportive approach to the topic of starting a business. The goal was to develop their business idea from scratch and realize it together in an interdisciplinary student team. It began on May 15, 2021 with a kick-off and ended on July 17, 2021 with the Demo Day. During these 9 weeks, 13 teams and ideas were accompanied. In the end, all 13 teams pitched their impressive results in front of a jury. The teams were supported in the implementation of their idea by members of the Founderclub, the mentors (some of whom were founders themselves and also experts and partners from the KTUR team), through community events and various workshops.
KTUR SUMMER SCHOOL ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In late Summer 2021, around 30 students and PhDs from 8 KTUR partner universities and 12 different nationalities came together in Freiburg, Basel and Strasbourg for the first KTUR Summer School on Entrepreneurship to get a compact insight into how to turn an idea into a business – an inspiring experience for all parties involved! The participants formed multicultural and interdisciplinary groups and worked on six very different business ideas, ranging from the field of biotechnology to the field of solar mobility. Lecturers, coaches and entrepreneurs from the KTUR network supported them with their expertise. On the final day, the groups pitched their project and received feedback from the jury, who awarded two prizes: best project and best team performance. Due to the great success of this format, a second edition will take place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, 2022.
KTUR ENTREPRENEURIAL EDUCATION: METHOD WORKSHOPS
The KTUR partners offered several specialized workshops with a clear trinational focus on the cross-border transfer of entrepreneurship-related method competences for students, researchers and entrepreneurs.
The online Design Thinking workshop “Empathize and turn your findings into a business idea!” for students, researchers and entrepreneurs was offered in November 2021 and March 2022. Participants experienced the entire “need finding phase” of the Design Thinking process and, step-by-step, turned their findings into a business idea.
In the online workshop “Learning Orchestra Canvas”, offered in May 2022, participants learned how to create visual models of organizations in order to reduce complexity and provide a common understanding and identity for all people involved.
If you want to know more about the offerings for young entrepreneurs within each KTUR partner university, you can find an overview below:
University of Basel
The Innovation Office of the University of Basel offers tailor-made support for scientists wanting to translate excellent research into start-ups and entrepreneurial initiatives. Through their extensive network of experts, the Innovation Office is able to connect members of the University wanting to found a company with the right experience and knowledge. It also offers financial support through the University’s ‘Propelling Grant’ (50k CHF) and by facilitating access to investors and other funding opportunities.
University of Freiburg
The start-up office supports people interested in setting up a company at the University of Freiburg, regardless of industry, by providing founded advice, qualifying them with a wide range of further training on start-up topics and offering individual coaching. As a student university group, the Foundersclub Freiburg is very close to students and young scientists of all disciplines. All relevant stakeholders who are active in the Freiburg start-up milieu – from consulting to financing – joined the “Startinsland” start-up initiative.
The Furtwangen University’s Innovation and Research Center (IFC) is the central consulting and support institution for those interested in setting up their own business. Whether a student team, university inventor with a business idea or young scientist on the way to independence. From the initial consultation to the EXIST application as well as with the provision of offices and laboratories, the IFC makes offers for people interested in founding their own business in various phases. As a place of exchange and encounter, it links university start-ups with the regional start-up scene between the Upper Rhine and Lake Constance.
University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
The KIT Founder’s Office “Gründerschmiede” promotes and supports spin-offs of students and scientists at KIT. It offers start-ups and people interested in founding their own company a comprehensive range of funding measures. Numerous networking events such as the start-up barbecue and exciting cooperations ensure a lively exchange with the regional start-up scene.
University of Koblenz Landau
The start-up office supports and accompanies students and employees of the University of Koblenz-Landau in the implementation of their business idea. The ED-School teaches those interested in founding a company how to develop creative and innovative ideas with Entrepreneurial Design Thinking and how to transform them into business ideas. The networking of the start-up relevant stakeholders within and outside the university ensures an improvement of the start-up culture at the university and in the region.
ETENA develops and runs a series of operations to promote entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit among students and young graduates in Alsace. In addition, SEMIA, the incubator for start-ups in the Greater East of France, provides support at all stages of business creation: personalized assistance, training, integration of a community of entrepreneurs and the provision of inspiring premises.
University of applied sciences nothwestern Switzerland
The FHNW offers its students a variety of start-up support services. On the one hand, specific support such as a Start-Up Summer School or a three-month evening course on the topic of company foundation. On the other hand, the FHNW’s ImpactLab with its three focal points Creating, Growing, Changing supports existing start-ups and prospective entrepreneurs from the university environment with a comprehensive range of services. In addition, various events such as makeathons or monthly meetings are held to create a strong network of young entrepreneurs at the university.
Offenburg University of Applied Sciences
The Hochschule Offenburg promotes the entrepreneurial spirit among its students and employees through training modules, workshops and lectures. Future start-ups can receive support and advice from the Entrepreneurship Office and make use of the resources of the Fab-Lab and the future OGF Lab.
University of Strasburg
Student: ETENA offers you personalized support to move from the idea to the POC: the ideal springboard to access the SEMIA incubator and accelerate your development. Researchers: With Conectus, benefit from expertise and financial solutions for the maturation of your innovation and develop your relationships with industry. Companies: Efficiently develop your projects with Unistra’s technology platforms. Identify technologies of the future with Conectus.
For more information about trinational offers for startups, please contact:
Dr. Frauke Lorenzen
University of Freiburg, Innovation & Transfer
Copyright Picture: istock.com/AleksandarNakic