Energy in the future and entrepreneurship – EIT Digital Summer School

Under the heading “Smart Energy Systems & Entrepreneurship,” the international summer school of the EIT Digital took place from July 27 to August 7, 2015 in cooperation with the KIT Institute for Entrepreneurship, Technology Management and Innovation (EnTechnon). The goal of the summer school was to promote innovations in the energy sector. Around 40 participants from around the world participated in the two-week summer school in Karlsruhe.

Through expert lectures and workshops, master students, scientists, and young professionals dealt with the energy systems of the future and potential business ideas in this segment such as new energy systems, e-mobility, or storage systems. One highlight of the summer school was the excursion to juwi in Wörrstadt. In addition to a guided tour of the company grounds and a tour of the wind facilities, Matthias Willenbacher, co-founder of juwi, was available to answer participants’ questions at the founder’s talk.

 

The focus of the first week of the summer school was on energy-relevant topics. During the second week, potential business ideas were created in various workshops. These ideas were then developed in small groups lead by mentors. At the end of the summer school, the teams presented their developed business ideas during a seven-minute pitch to an expert jury. After long consultation, the jury named the ‘Multi-Family Homes Flexibility Monetization’ team the winner. Participants were also able to rank each other. In this ranking, the ‘Power Check Plug’ team received the most votes. The final pitch ended with satisfied teams and enthused jury members.

 

Looking back, the participants draw a very positive verdict. Anca Solacolu of the KTH Stockholm explained, “After my Bachelor’s degree, I thought that I would never be able to build a company – because I lacked the entrepreneurial skills. My Master’s degree at KIC Inno Energy and the summer school helped me a lot in developing these skills.” She valued the cultural and information technological exchange during the summer school and was able to gather valuable experiences. Simon Salis of University of Brighton also sees the summer school as a positive experience and responded to the question of whether he would recommend the program straightforward with, “Just two words: Yes, 100 percent!”

Kickoff for the KIT “founding promoters” network

Professors are key players in the area of founding. They can bring about inspiration early on in their teachings and raise awareness for this option in one’s life. However, they can also recognize opportunities for a promising startup in the research sector and either found a startup themselves or motivate others in their surroundings to seize this opportunity. Furthermore, they are important as mentors in consulting and supervising young founders with their experience, technical competency, and diverse contacts.

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