Let’s start up Baden-Württemberg. The experiment has got off to a successful start. Minister President Winfried Kretschmann and the Minister of Economic Affairs Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut were delighted at the high level of interest and the presence of 2,600 participants at the first ‘Start-up bw’ summit on July 14 at the new trade fair complex in Stuttgart. Although at the same time, the cool-headed Minister President reminded the audience of the importance of maintaining a basically critical view of Baden-Württemburg as a prime location for start-ups. He cautioned the city’s residents, “Don’t pat yourselves on the back yet, keep up the momentum!
Hidden startup champion
Baden-Württemberg has a reputation for being an innovative location. “Nowhere else are so many patents registered per resident as here”, praised Kretschmann. Measured in relation to gross domestic product, nowhere else invests so much in innovations as here; and nowhere else has such a high proportion of employees involved in the research-intensive industrial sectors.
But Kretschmann and the Minister of Economic Affairs, Hoffmeister-Kraut, still consider that Baden-Württemberg is currently “somewhat undervalued” when it comes to start-ups. However, it is set to become a region of growth per excellence in the future.
Edith Schmitt from the Technology Transfer Initiative GmbH (TTI) – a spin-off of the University of Stuttgart – has been working towards this goal for 20 years, long before the current start-up euphoria took hold. The initiative has always been a big name for anyone looking to start a business: it focuses on supporting students and scientific researchers who want to found their own start-up and ensures that they have access to invaluable know-how, networks, mentors, the appropriate facilities and, last but not least, the funding these ventures need in order to help give them the best possible start.
An experienced and sympathetic point of contact
A business plan is paramount. Edith Schmitt, who in every other respect has the patience of a saint and is always ready to offer support to the aspiring start-up founders, refuses to compromise on this: and for good reason. According to Uwe Horstmann, the former head of Rocket Internet and co-founder of Project A ventures, who spoke at the start-up summit, approximately 90 percent of all start-ups fail. He invests 15 million euros in every company that he deems worthy of receiving funding. In order to do this he needs to see a solid business model.
Casting the net wide
The University of Stuttgart and the other regions represented at the Start-up trade fair in Baden-Würrtemburg have cast their net wide to draw in a huge range of new and exciting start-up ideas. There was huge interest in the consultation sessions with TTI on Start-up Island 5, where the ‘Stuttgart ecosystem’ was presented. All of the entrepreneurs - whether it be Swabian Instruments from Schwieberdingen, which emerged from the Physics Institute and is still in the founding stages; or student Alok Singh, who would like to design an optical instrument to accurately measure the quality of food products, a kind of Geiger counter for foodstuffs that detects harmful substances – they are all very grateful to the TTI and ‘founding mother’ Schmitt.
Award for the TTI’s targeted commitment
The TTI’s active work in supporting the start-up founders with smart ideas is a great success, and this is reflected in the growing list of successful start-ups. At the Startup BW summit, the TTI, bwcon, Wizemann Space, the city of Stuttgart and the Wirtschaftsförderung der Region Stuttgart were awarded a certificate for their long-standing work and commitment – with a funding approval to the amount of 702,696 euros from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor and Housing Baden-Württemberg. This is intended to run for three years, until the end of June 2020.
The panel of experts gave the following reason: the TTI supports start-up initiatives that have great potential in the areas of innovative services and advanced technology. “We are delighted to receive this award. It shows recognition of our commitment to supporting a culture of entrepreneurial independence, with the aim of transforming scientific results into something of economic value”, says Edith Schmitt.