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KIT Venture Fest 2016: More than 700 visitors explored the innovation landscape at KIT

On 29 June 2016, KIT organised the third KIT Venture Fest. This year’s Innovation Day attracted more than 700 to the premises around Audimax: a new visitor record. The diverse programme brought together students, employees and entrepreneurs based at KIT with representatives from industry and business, investors and networking partners. Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board at Daimler AG, was the highlight of the event with his late-night talk.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche beim KIT Venture Fest 2016

Dr Dieter Zetsche at KIT Venture Fest 2016

The day began with an “innovation breakfast”, during which the first participants got to know each other. Afterwards, the seminars began, in which the topics of entrepreneurship and technology transfer were discussed, both on a basic level and in terms of approaches to inventions, patents and licences, funding opportunities and online-marketing tips for start-ups.

Visitors gained insights into the diversity of the topic of innovation at the innovation gallery, where the academics and entrepreneurs of KIT showcased their products. The gallery offered the exhibiting teams a platform for receiving feedback on their projects and business ideas and networking with interesting potential cooperation partners and investors.

The event was officially opened at lunchtime by Professor Thomas Hirth, KIT Vice President, who elaborated on the significance of innovation as one of the three pillars of KIT. Afterwards, participants attended a variety of snapshot sessions – concise, short lectures delivered by KIT academics and cooperation partners from the industry. In addition, the session “Quo vadis – Wishes and Expectations of the Innovation 2025 Project at KIT” was held. Attendees were encouraged to exchange views and opinions and discuss suggested changes with Prof. Thomas Hirth, Dr Jens Fahrenberg, Head of KIT Innovation Management (IMA), and Orestis Terzidis, Head of the Institute of Entrepreneurship, Technology Management and Innovation (EnTechnon).

A variety of highlights took place on the KIT Venture Fest stage in the afternoon, including the R2B tech pitch. Five academics took the opportunity to introduce their current research projects to the audience in the context of five-minute lectures. Besides showcasing their technology, the presenters also hoped to attract new cooperation and industry partners. R2B stands for RESEARCH TO BUSINESS, an offer by the KIT Innovation Management programme. R2B unites science and industry in a variety of formats, including an online platform, a newsletter, and small, themed events in order to bring new technologies to the market.

Those who had not yet had a chance to meet the start-up teams at the innovation gallery got to do so at the KIT entrepreneurs’ pitch. Five young companies based at KIT were given three minutes each to present their business ideas to a broad audience. The presenters included Selfbits, robodev, emmtrix, SMActuators and vasQlab. The jury was made up of Robin Schönbeck (PACE Telematics GmbH), Yair Re’em (Hasso Plattner Ventures Management GmbH), Dr Dirk Schweinberger (tech-solute GmbH & Co. KG), Matthias Hornberger (KIZOO Technology Capital GmbH) and Crispin Leick (EnBW New Ventures GmbH).

Am Abend verlagerte sich die Veranstaltung in den Außenbereich, wo zunächst die Verleihung des Innovationspreises NEULAND stattfand. Der 1. Preis in der Kategorie „Ideenwettbewerb“ ging an Prof. Dr. Ute Schepers, Prof. Dr. Stefan Bräse und Bettina Fleck für ihren Anti-MRSA-Wirkstoff. Gewinner des 1. Preises in der Kategorie „Sonderpreis“ sind Dr.-Ing. Jürgen J. Brandner und Dr. Berta Spasova mit dem Industriepartner Cargill für die Katalytische Epimerisierung und Polymerisation von funktionalisierten Kohlehydraten. Im Anschluss wurden die Gewinner des KIT-Gründerpitchs bekannt gegeben: Der KIT-Gründerpreis ging an das Start-up SMActuators, der Publikumspreis an die KIT-Gründung Selfbits.


In the evening, the event moved to the outside area for the awarding of the NEULAND innovation prize. The first prize in the “Competition of Ideas” category was awarded to Prof Ute Schepers, Prof Stefan Bräse and Bettina Fleck for their anti-MRSA compound. In first place of the “special prize” category, Dr Jürgen J. Brandner and Dr Berta Spasova ranked first, together with their industrial partner Cargill, for the catalytic epimerisation and polymerisation of functionalised carbohydrates. Finally, the winners of the KIT entrepreneurs’ pitch were announced: The KIT Founders’ Prize was awarded to the start-up SMActuators, the audience prize to the KIT start-up Selfbits.

The evening culminated in a keynote speech delivered by Dr Dieter Zetsche from Daimler AG, titled “The rhinoceros principle: large, not languid“. He talked about electromobility and the paradigm shift in his company. Zetsche predicted, for instance, that Daimler AG will no longer focus only on manufacturing cars in a few decades and instead offer new forms of mobility. His objective is to prepare the Daimler corporation for this transformation: “The willingness to change has never been as strong as it is now.” Especially for corporations, it is crucial to maintain the capacity to react rapidly despite their size – much like rhinoceroses, able to run at up to 45 kilometres per hour. Young rhinoceroses have even more advice for us: do not blindly follow your parents. Dare to go a different way. “As a corporation, we need to be more open towards risk,” Zetsche demands. Following the keynote speech, the evening event proceeded to a late-night talk, during which Zetsche and Hirth discussed parallels at KIT.

The rest of the evening provided space for networking. The guests got to exchange views, make new contacts and enjoy the musical entertainment into the late night hours.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the many guests who made the KIT Venture Fest 2016 a roaring success! We particularly thank the founders, academics and entrepreneurs who breathed life into our programme by participating as exhibitors or lecturers. Also, many thanks to our network partners: Karlsruher Gründerallianz, CyberForum e.V. and the student groups: PionierGarage e.V., Young Investigator Network (YIN), Encactus KIT e.V. and r2b-student e.V.

The following start-up teams were represented in the Innovation Gallery:

The following technologies were being showcased:

  • Institute of Data Processing and Electronics (IPE), Dr Michael Meißer: Assembly of power electronics
  • Institute of Product Development (IPEK), Michael Basiewicz: Innovative clutch disc
  • Light Technology Institute (LTI), Matthias Hecht: Beam stearing OLEDs
  • Institute of Catalysis Research and Technology (IKFT), Dorian Oestrich: Clean diesel
  • KIT Steel and Lightweight Construction Research Centre for Steel, Wood and Stone (VAKA), Prof. Ummenhofer: Hybrid bonding
  • Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG), Dr Hartmut Gliemann: Perfect crystalline layers
  • Elektrotechnical Institute (ETI), Mario Gommeringer: Innovative circuit for photovoltaics
  • Elektrotechnical Institut (ETI), Marc Veigel, Patrick Winzer: High-powered e-drives
  • Light Technology Institute (LTI), Daniel Bahro, Konstantin Glaser: Organic solar cells

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