In April, the entrepreneurs’ barbecue was hosted by a member of the executive board for the first time in the eight-year history of the event: Professor Thomas Hirth, the new KIT Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs, personally fired up the grill and explained the significance of innovation at KIT and plans for the further development of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship (CIE) to attendants of the event. He was supported by the Head of KIT Innovation Management (IMA), Dr Jens Fahrenberg, and the Head of the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Technology Management and Innovation (EnTechnon), Professor Orestis Terzidis.
As an academic, what do I do if I have a good idea? How can I transfer my technology? Who will support me?
These and many other questions will be answered during our course “From Invention to Innovation”, held twice a year at the FTU (Fortbildungszentrum für Technik und Umwelt) at KIT. The programme is aimed at all academic staff and managers of KIT. It conveys fundamental knowledge on the protection and use of intellectual property.
For five KIT teams, everything revolves around advancing their startup project. They are taking part in the upCAT#4, a 12-week intensive program for startups and spin-offs. This is where prospective startup teams work on accelerating their market entry. The fourth KIT accelerator is lead by Dr. Gerda Frank and Petra Nitschke from the Center for Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship (CIE).
Together with internal and external speakers, they share startup-relevant knowledge and a variety of methods that can be directly used in the following practice and mentoring sessions. The teams receive additional tips from experts in the industry and economy, so-called mentors. From December 7th-10th, 2015, the kickoff week took place – the start of the program. For one week, the teams received input in order to specify their business ideas. We met the teams at the beginning of the program.
On April 23, 2015, the opening event of the Entrepreneurship Talks for the summer semester 2015 took place. Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Stork, multiple founder of KIT spin-offs, collegial leader of the Institute for Information Processing Technologies (ITIV), and director of the area of embedded systems and sensor engineering at the Research Center for Information Technology was invited as a guest. He talked about his professional career, which impressively combines science and entrepreneurship.
Prof. Stork already began to deal with entrepreneurial thought early on alongside to his pure research activities. His motivation in doing so was his curiosity regarding whether there was a possibility to realize his research results and whether there were already companies on the market that could manufacture products from them. The question about realization or even utilization of research results on the market was not self-evident at the time. It was a novelty and wasn’t viewed very positively. Consequently, Prof. Stork had to initially pursue his project relatively unnoticed.
Founding a company with a scientific basis is a significant challenge, be it during one’s studies or as a new graduate. Alongside learning, tests, and lectures, a business model needs to be developed, the market observed, and a finance plan created. Funding means enabling a first step in order to create the necessary breathing room for this development. However, the willingness of the employer is especially important for scientists who take this path. Continue reading