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.
An event of the venture forum neckar e.V. in cooperation with the Sparkasse Heilbronn on September 30, 2015 was to provide answers to the question of which challenges businesses will be faced with in the future and how they can be tackled. The continuously advancing digitalization of production processes and the increased networking of different production locations via the Internet, two big themes under the umbrella term Industry 4.0, often require rethinking, especially for medium-sized companies.
For startups, it is also important to deal with the topic of Industry 4.0 from the beginning. Many processes must be coordinated from the start in collaboration with customers and cooperation partners. The event offered a platform for recognizing the needs of startups, cooperation partners in industry, and investors/financiers early on in order to address them.
A total of four startup teams/startups from the KIT were exhibitors at the event. Three of them presented themselves in a pitch (12 in total) to the investors/financiers and potential cooperation partners with great success. All in all, the event was well attended by approx. 200 participants and approx. 20 startup teams.
Before the semester break, the last KIT Entrepreneurship Talk of the summer semester took place on July 16, 2015. This time, Tim Stracke, co-CEO of Chrono24, was invited as a guest. Stracke entered the online marketplace for luxury watches in 2010. Today, the company is among the leading global market places in this sector. The success was recently crowned by an investment – the company will receive 21 m. EUR from Insight Venture Partners. Congratulations!
Stracke studied industrial engineering at the University of Karlsruhe TH (which is the KIT today) and also received his MBA at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. After his studies, Stracke worked in consulting but founded his own company soon after. Before becoming a CEO of Chrono24, he was able to gather a lot of experience in the startup scene. At the E-Talk, he shared his lessons learned as a founder and entrepreneur and gave the audience personal recommendations and tips.