During the beginning stage of a business startup, founders are often faced with different challenges. Questions regarding financing, the business plan, and fear of failure are always present. However, entry into the business is facilitated through so-called incubators. In an incubator, startup projects that are preparing their business startup find a supervised space to develop and grow.
The term incubator originally comes from the fields of medicine and biology, where it is also referred to as a breeder. The principle of an incubator is to create the ideal conditions for breeding and growth processes. For newborns, for instance, the incubator provides an ideal and safe environment for the child to grow. In the field of business startups, this principle can be transferred to young startups. Incubators for startup teams create the best framework conditions that level the successful start into business life for the prospective entrepreneurs. In the special facilities or spaces of the incubator, startups receive support and consultation for their startup project. In addition to the availability of inexpensive rental spaces and infrastructure (e.g., offices, laboratories, or production facilities), founders are also supported with entrepreneurial know-how. Through consultations and coaching sessions by experts form the startup scene, the teams in the incubator are supported in a targeted manner through intensive supervision and their opportunities for growth increase. The incubator, as a focused startup center, simultaneously stands for infrastructure, knowledge, and network. In some cases, incubators also offer startups seed funding and are available to help founders with tips when searching for capital.
With its lively startup culture, Karlsruhe offers young founders some smaller and larger incubators or spaces in the area. A list of links for additional information can be found on our website “Space for Founders .” Especially for scientific spin-offs, the KIT offers a high-tech incubator on Campus North, where 10 startup projects and businesses are currently located.
Twice a year, technology-oriented startup projects from universities and research institutions may apply for funding through EXIST Transfer of Research. With this funding program, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) supports outstanding teams of founders whose technology-based startup ideas require elaborate development work. The goal is to improve the startup climate at universities and research institutions as well as to increase the number of technological and scientific business startups.
In May 2015, the jury met and decided on the submissions from the January 2015 application phase. Altogether, 87 sketched ideas from around Germany were examined. Twenty-six startup teams from the areas of life sciences, energy technology, sensor technology, software, and industry 4.0 won the jury over and received approval for funding. Among them are three teams from the KIT: GIn, OTEGO, and Emmtrix. Congratulations!
The team of GIn – Gesture Interaction for Wearable Technologies has specialized in the area of augmented reality (AR). Using newly developed technology for gesture interaction, the aim is to considerably expand and improve the input options and the range of functions of AR glasses and ‘wearable devices’. The OTEGO team is working on a spin-off in the energy sector. With thermoelectric generators (TEGs), they hope to transform ambient heat directly into power when a temperature change occurs. The technology can be applied in a wide array of markets. The third startup project, Emmtrix, develops a software solution for programming multicore processors for simplifying the parallelization of embedded systems in the industry field.
These entirely different ideas were rated by the BMWi as technologically demanding and economically promising startup projects. With the help of EXIST Transfer of Research, the teams can now focus on continuing to develop, proving the technical feasibility, and preparing the startup. We wish the three teams a lot of success and will follow their development!
On 06/30/2015, this year’s Deutscher Gründerpreis (German Startup Award) was awarded in Berlin. The competition is hosted by the partners stern, Sparkasse, ZDF, and Porsche and is one of the most meaningful distinctions for founders and entrepreneurs in Germany. Every year, this prize is awarded in the categories Student, StartUp, Shooting Star, Special Award, and Lifetime Achievement. This time, two KIT startups made it into the finals and had high hopes at the festive award ceremony.
Image source: Franziska Krug / Deutscher Gründerpreis
The startup RESTUBE GmbH competed against Customized Drinks GmbH and OnPage.org GmbH in the category “StartUp.” RESTUBE develops, produces, and sells inflatable buoys for water sports. In a critical situation, a buoy inflates using a gas cartridge. This way, the user can save him or herself from drowning. RESTUBE is so-to-speak the inflatable backup for all athletes in water sports. On the evening of the award presentation, RESTUBE asserted itself against its competitors with its worldwide unique “life buoy.” The team headed by Christopher Fuhrhop and Marius Kunkis won the German Startup Award in the category “StartUp.” We congratulate the team on this great success!
The KIT spin-off Nanoscribe GmbH, founded in 2007, competed in the category “Shooting Star” next to Jimdo and Little Bird. Nanoscribe was nominated for the Startup Award due to technical and entrepreneurial competency as well as the leap from pure research to market success. The company manufactures 3D printers on a micro and nanometer scale and offers photoresists and process solutions for an array of uses. Unfortunately, the jury ultimately chose a different team, honoring Jimdo with the German Startup Award in “Shooting Star.” Nonetheless, getting to the final round gives the Nanoscribe team great recognition.
We are especially proud that two KIT teams made it to the Startup Awards this year. We are delighted to see the development of the startup culture at the KIT and in the “fan city” of Karlsruhe. We congratulate both teams on their successful participation in the renowned competition and on their special recognition for outstanding entrepreneurial performance in Germany!
For more information about the German Startup Awards, visit www.deutscher-gruenderpreis.de
By now, the KIT has reached a considerable number of committed and creative founders. More and more students, KIT employees, and graduates are making the decision to take an entrepreneurial path into self-employment. With the funding that started in 2013 through the “EXIST Culture of Entrepreneurship” program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the number of startup projects increased significantly. Thus, in 2014, 33 startups emerged from the KIT.
During the course of the conception and idea stage for the KIT Founders Forge project, there was already a wish to acknowledge the startup teams and to make startup activities more present on campus. This developed into the idea of a “Walk of Flame”: A visual installation of all startup projects and founded companies, similar to the American Walk of Fame that honors important personalities in film and television. The Walk of Flame is intended to honor motivated and courageous founders who are passionate about their idea and committed to the success of their business. The constant presence on campus also contributes to the strengthening of the KIT startup culture, where founding can be seen as an equitable option for your own life.
In order to approach this partial project, an idea contest was initiated in cooperation with the KIT Institute for Building Design and Technology in the specialized field of Building Lifecycle Management (BML). During the course of a summer semester, students developed concepts for the “Walk of Flame” as part of this impromptu project, i.e. an unsupervised project. The architecture students had about one month to create ideas for a public, lasting, significant, and, above all, expandable model. In the end, four completely different approaches were presented on May 20, 2015 from which the KIT Founders Forge selected the best idea. In addition to creativity, visibility, and feasibility, the estimated cost for realization also affects who wins the idea contest. All submitted ideas will be exhibited at the founders’ gallery at the KIT Venture Fest on June 30 in the Audimax, and the winner of the idea contest will be selected.