Boost for start-ups across Hamburg Metropolitan Region
Launched in 2017, StartUp SH began as a network focusing on innovation with 13 partners across Schleswig-Holstein and received EUR 6.9 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). That has led to a bumper 532 start-ups and more than 100 university-related start-ups per year. No wonder, then, that the project is being continued, with EUR 2.7 million from the EU Commission's REACT funding until 2024. New partners including Wedel UAS came on board in early 2022. The private university offers twelve bachelor's and eight interdisciplinary master's degree courses in business, engineering and computer science to generate digital start-ups. FH Wedel fits perfectly with StartUp SH's current goals of even more start-ups in the digital sector, paving the way for environment-friendly founders, and generally overcoming the repercussions of the pandemic.
Digital health checks and micro degrees
"A total of 18 sub-projects, two of which FH Wedel is responsible for, promote start-up culture," said Jan-Paul Lüdtke, Professor of E-Commerce and Digital Marketing at FH Wedel. The professor is also a founder and an active business angel. One of those projects is Digital Health-Check for Start-ups. "We are developing a standardized approach to put the planned business model through its paces. Depending on the founder's health, we offer tips and advice to strengthen them." As part of a second project, Wedel UAS is working with opencampus.sh and Kiel UAS on a continuing education course for founders. "That will be a micro-degree in digital entrepreneurship. We're trying to turn our university content into digestible portions of knowledge that prospective founders can enjoy in weekly bites."
AI start-ups extremely likely to survive
Ideas for digital start-ups are not lacking and the required knowledge is available, Lüdtke stressed. "We are geared towards the economy and look at how professional requirements can be inputted to design innovative courses of study. That is how computer games technology or data science and artificial intelligence or basically content that leads to an attractive start-up environment were created. A study by the ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, for instance, found that AI start-ups are extremely likely to survive, have great potential for innovation as well as a positive impact on productivity and economic growth. And prospects are great for graduates of bachelor's degree courses as Hamburg is Germany's most important games centre after Berlin.
FH Wedel as a mediator between the regions
Given its location west of Hamburg, FH Wedel has become somewhat of an ambassador for the StartUp SH. "We know the stakeholders in both Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. We are asked, for instance, whether we can organize a kind of 'safari' to Hamburg to visit start-ups and investors. The Lübeck Medical School, for instance, is keen on forging contacts in Hamburg," Lüdtke pointed out. Wedel UAS also manages EXIST projects and receives funds from the EXIST Potentials scheme. Lüdkte is well acquainted with funding opportunities for prospective founders ranging from federal funds to various offers in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. "In 2020, we founded our own start-up consulting service, Startup Bridge, and are among the initiators of Startup Port involving seven universities in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. Now we're adding StartUp SH to the mix."
The various pillars of support for start-ups are having an impact, Lüdtke stressed: "Thirty-four start-ups have created 187 jobs since 2009." Immojoin, last year's winner of Hamburg Innovation Summit's Campus Pitch, is among the successful spin-offs. The start-up pools property offers from various portals and websites on an integrated platform. Eyefactive, a provider of interactive multi-touch screen solutions, or Female Lights, which has developed an equality tool for companies, are among other success stories.