Despite an innovative business idea, the path to independence isn’t always easy. During the beginning stage of a startup, the main focus lies on the issue of financing as well as on searching for suitable spaces for realizing this idea. The rental prices for office and laboratory spaces then turn out to be costly affairs on the free market, which makes it hard for young entrepreneurs to gain a foothold.
The crisis is barely over, and the whole country is already calling for innovations. In times of flourishing information technology, a shift in energy, and the question about our future mobility, we definitely can’t do without them. But are innovations truly the panacea for our problems, and does innovation really make it or break it when it comes to success? Continue reading
Since 2009, international researchers gather once a year at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin traditionally held on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th. The focus of the Falling Walls Conference is on scientific breakthroughs and technologies that have the potential to change the world – researchers exchange information on scientific developments and achievements in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
In the framework of the forum “Falling Walls Venture“, scientific foundings, which can also tear down walls with their innovations, are given a stage. With a nomination from various foundations and academic institutions from all over the world, foundings get to go to Falling Walls. Annually over 20 scientific startups may present their developments and business concepts to a high-caliber jury. The three most groundbreaking business models compete against each other in the finals. The grand finale is the awards ceremony for the “Falling Walls Science Start-up of the Year”, in which the finalists present their project to the entire conference audience again.
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) spin-off CYNORA GmbH managed to prevail against 20 international high-tech companies in November 2013 and received the award for “Falling Walls Science Start-up of the Year 2013″. At that time, the company was still located in the high-tech incubator on the Campus North of the KIT and was thus nominated by the KIT for Falling Walls Venture.
The CYNORA GmbH is active in the research and development of low cost organic semiconductor materials for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic solar cells (OPV). Today, there already are many monitors of smartphones and some flat screen TV in the uppermost price segment, which consist of OLEDs. As the winner of the competition, Dr. Tobias Grab, CEO of CYNORA GmbH, introduced his startup in the Falling Walls Conference 2013 to the audience of top representatives from academia, business, and politics. He brought the coveted award to Karlsruhe.
Dr. Grab now saw this year’s event from the opposite perspective: after the success of last year, he was called into the jury of the Falling Walls Venture in 2014. As a member of the jury he assessed the business models of the nominees, among other things, by innovation and economic potential and accompanied the decision-making process actively. As part of the Falling Walls Conference 2014 on November 9th, 2014, the three finalists presented their business models to the jury and the conference guests.
More than 25 scientific startups were nominated for the Falling Walls Venture in 2014. As the best startup and “Falling Walls Science Start-up of the Year 2014″ EyeTechCare emerged. The company impressed with an innovative treatment method for glaucoma using a non-invasive ultrasound device.
The Founders Forge, in cooperation with the Training Center for Technology and Environment (FTU), offer the educational event “From Invention to Innovation” twice a year. The half-day event is targeted towards all KIT employees and tells the participants how they can protect their inventions as intellectual property (IP) and at the same time profit from them. They get to know the tools of technology transfer and get an impression of the procedure of innovation exploitation at KIT.
On October 7th, a total of 15 participants came together to take part in the series of events. Four topics were addressed in the four hour seminar.
- Patent utilization
- Market analysis and exploitation strategy
- Contract models and design – Beware of traps!
- High-tech start-ups from science.
The KIT was represented here in many ways; starting with Ph. D. Candidates, through KIT scientists, up to a professor. The active participation at the seminar shows that the topic “innovation and its exploitation” is an important topic not only among students and scientists but also professors. In discussing the different thematic areas it became apparent that especially the topic patent law poses many questions. For illustration purposes, complicated issues of everyday life were described. The IP consultants of the KIT Innovation Management were in great demand here. They aided the participants with difficult questions. In the seminar, the awareness for patents and their scientific importance, especially as far as technological exploitation is concerned, was raised among all participants.
The next “From Invention to Innovation” course takes place on March 16th, 2015. All scientific employees and managers of the KIT, who want to get to know the basics of a successful patent exploitation, are invited. Registration is already available and can be done through FTU. You can find further information at the Founders Forge.