Basic knowledge for founders in the sciences


Martin Bäuml

The research results of the scientific institutions and institutes at KIT represent a large potential for scientific and technical spin-offs. In order to support employees interested in technology transfer, the KIT Founders Forge offers the further training “professional patent operation” for scientific workers and high-tech founders at KIT. Martin Bäuml, an academic employee at KIT who is interested in startups, participated in the course. In an interview, we asked him about his experiences in the course.

Mr. Bäuml, where and in what subject area do you work at KIT?

I am doing my PhD at the Institute for Anthropomantics at the Faculty of Computer Science. My doctorate deals with face and person recognition, in particular in TV series and movies.

What motivated you to participate in the seminar?

The topic of patents is always involved when working with new technologies. On the one hand, you constantly read about patent litigations in the media. On the other hand, there are also attempts in our group to patent certain technologies. Personally, I didn’t have any real experience of what, for instance, the legal framework conditions consist of. Therefore, I saw the seminar as a good opportunity to make a first step into the subject area.

What significance does the operation of technologies take in your everyday life as an academic?

We work with a relatively practical orientation, so the application of our technologies is a continuing theme. Nonetheless, our primary goal is publication rather than commercial operation. But, of course, we do develop a feeling for which technologies have potential for further operation when talking to users, for example during BMBF projects.

Had you already dealt with the topic of founding before?

Yes. And at that time, I found the offered seminar through the informational web pages for KIT regarding startups.

Would a KIT spin-off be an option for you?

Definitely. I am thrilled by the support that KIT offers in all kinds of forms for potential founders. The founder scene here is very active and so far it is fun to get a taste of it.

What were you able to draw from the course?

Since I hadn’t really dealt with the subject area before, I was especially interested in the information regarding the foundations of patent rights. Additionally, it became very clear to me how important patents are for KIT and how much support there truly is from KIT in all matters regarding commercial operation.

Would you recommend the course to colleagues?

Of course. I think that anyone dealing with new technology, which is basically all of us here, can profit from having a basic understanding of the framework conditions for commercial operation.

Tag of the Month: Accelerator

The word “accelerator” often pops up in the founder scene. But what does “accelerator” stand for and what lies behind it?

The purpose of an accelerator for founders, as the word suggests, is to get founders to their destination faster.

There are two basic forms of accelerators. On the one hand, there are organizations or programs that have tasked themselves with supporting startups in a specific field or region. They run campaigns, competitions, mentor programs, and much more in order to promote startups, provide support with business building, build networks, and match mentors and investors with startups. The portfolio of well-known accelerators also includes offering spaces, such as co-working spaces. And example for this is the well-known German Silicon Valley Accelerator.

On the other hand, an accelerator is a coaching program within a specific timeframe for selected founding teams during an early stage. Throughout an intensive process, the founders acquire diverse knowledge, continue to develop their business model, and are often supported by an experienced mentor in doing so. Oftentimes, the teams present their output to investors at the end of the accelerator program and thus get the chance to attract funding.

The KIT Founders Forge and its partners offer a variety of forms of accelerator programs.

Robots are becoming flexible – KIT spin-off ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH develops a software with which robots can quickly and intuitively be programmed

Robots have always fascinated him. “I am glad that I decided to study robotics at university after high school,” said Sven Schmidt-Rohr, one of the three founders of ArtiMinds. ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH, founded in August 2013, develops software with which end users can program even complex movements and tasks of a robot.

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Quality along the Supply Chain – KIT Spinoff simQoo Develops Quality Management Software for Companies with a Global Network of Suppliers

Team des KIT-wbk Start-Ups “simQoo” mit Mentorin Fr. Prof. Lanza

When companies are forced to recall their products due to faulty brakes or hazardous substances in food, it becomes clear that quality deficiencies may be associated with high risks for the consumer and high financial losses for the manufacturer. Professional quality management (PQM) is indispensable for manufacturers. However, the process of controlling the goods is of increasing complexity, the more suppliers are involved.

“Quality deficiencies frequently creep into the supply chain. An end product without quality deficiencies requires seamless integration of all suppliers into the quality management scheme,” Kyle Kippenbrock and Stefan Stockey, the two founders of the KIT spinoff simQoo, say. The mechanical engineers are research assistants at the KIT Institute of Production Science (wbk). Their work on projects with German companies in China gave rise to the idea of establishing simQoo.

Quality management and the corresponding IT solutions cause many companies quite a headache: QM information is sent by e-mail, every supplier uses his own data format, statistical evaluation requires quite an effort. The software solutions applied at large enterprises are often associated with high investment costs and quickly outdated. Operation has to be learnt through time-consuming training. Often, it is carried out by a small group of QM experts only.

The solution developed by simQoo facilitates communication even beyond borders of companies. Via an easy-to-understand user interface, all parties involved in the production process can make their QM data accessible to partner enterprises. The data are made available in a standardized format. Error messages or complaints are transmitted in real time. Manufacturers and suppliers can respond quickly to potential quality deficiencies. Stefan Stockey uses a tax declaration software to explain the concept: “You do not need to be a tax expert and to know all currently valid regulations in order to operate the software. In the same way, the software solution of simQoo guides the user step by step through the QM process.” The software can be operated with a PC or smartphone from everywhere in the world. The only thing that is needed is access to the internet.

Their mentor, Professor Dr.-Ing. Gisela Lanza from the Institute of Production Science (wbk), and spinoff coach Dr. Rolf Blattner from KIT’s Innovation Management Service Unit supported the young entrepreneurs actively from the very beginning. Since January 2013, simQoo has been granted an “Exist” founders grant.

Kyle Kippenbrock and Stefan Stockey are now looking for clients to carry out pilot projects. Within the framework of these projects, the software is to be further developed and tested in practice. The clients will profit from a more efficient quality management  and from an increase in competitiveness.

Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Stockey
Kaiserstr. 12, D-76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phone:  +49 (0) 721 608-44185+49 (0) 721 608-44185
Mobile : +49 (0) 160 962-54940+49 (0) 160 962-54940

Gene Transfer of the Next Generation – KIT Spin-off Incella GmbH Has Developed a New Method to Optimize Gene Transfer in Cells for the Development of New Cell Transfectants

Die KIT-Wissenschaftler und Gründer des Spin-offs Incella Dr. Pavel Levkin und Dr. Gary Davidson

Genome research and microbiological diagnosis are major components of biomedical examinations. In pharmaceutical industry, such screenings of cell cultures are made to understand the functions of genes or to produce antibodies against certain diseases in a cell. A method frequently applied for fundamental research into cell biology is cell transfection. Foreign DNA or RNA molecules are introduced into a cell, thus causing a genetic modification. Lipid-similar molecules are applied most often for cell transfection.

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