The “KIT Gründerschmiede” (Founders’ Forge) project aims to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture at KIT. It has been funded within the scope of the “EXIST” programme since 2013. Over the course of the past three years, various measures have been implemented, and their first results are becoming apparent. KIT has reached the third place in the “Gründungsradar” ranking by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors’ association for the promotion of humanities and sciences in Germany) and tied place with the start-up RESTUBE GmbH for first place in the renowned Deutschen Gründerpreis awards in 2015. The second round of funding has been approved on this basis, as continuity and the development of successful measures is one of the main principles of the association. We are delighted about the continued sponsorship from EXIST IV and the implied success of our strategy.
Our project is based on seven interlocking modules, which have already been defined and implemented during the first round of funding (phase A): Knowledge development and technology transfer (WaTT, from German: Wissensaufbau und Technologietransfer), Teaching (“Lehre”), Startup Catalyst (“upCAT”), Leveraged Crowd Funding “(LCF”), Culture (“Kultur”), Coaching and Networking (“Netz”). Thanks to these modules, founding companies at KIT is a process of entrepreneurship in action. The process starts with the identification of potentials and brainstorming, followed by evaluation and the realisation of the start-up project. The following graphic will continue to serve as a model for all offers and activities carried out within the scope of KIT Gründerschmiede.
Three KIT players are involved in the design and implementation of these activities: The Professorial Chair of Entrepreneurship and Technological Management at EnTechnon, the KIT Innovations Management and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship (CIE), which acts as a comprehensive platform at the interface between students and academics.
Goals that have been set for the end of the second round of funding (phase B) include increased visibility and relevance for the topic of “start-ups at KIT”, a full set of tried-and-tested measures and instruments, and sustainable funding models. This will allow KIT to remain an attractive magnet for teams of entrepreneurs and financial partners and become a true “Founders’ Forge”. Phase B will also involve support from the full-time Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs at KIT, who will primarily contribute to the implementation of the overall strategy and sustainability.