Leuphana University paving way for start-ups
The pandemic has impacted all economic sectors and start-ups have not gone unscathed with their numbers dropping by 11 per cent across Germany in 2020, according to the KfW Start-up Monitor. Thus, university support for potential founders is crucial to their success. And the Leuphana University Lüneburg (LUL) in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region ranks among the most successful, mid-sized universities for start-ups, according to the Gründungsradar 2020 of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.
Pilot function for financing in start-up phase
"Entrepreneurship is understood as a cross-cutting theme at our university. We try to make entrepreneurship something that can be experienced and learned," explains Carsten Wille, head of the start-up service at LUL. The approach focuses on raising awareness of entrepreneurship and which essentially is about a founder's personality and that person's convictions and views. Thus, the curriculum features seven different professorships including consultancy in which Wille specialises. "We are approached by students, who want to launch a start-up, but lack a concrete idea. Others are looking for a team to take their idea on board while some are very far along with their start-up and need help with very specific issues." The start-up service takes on a pilot function when it comes to selecting and applying for funding and grants at federal or state level or contacting venture capital providers.
Adference, Erason and createF among success stories
The number of emerging start-ups varies every year. "In 2019, there were just over 40 spin-offs compared to 70 in 2015, two-thirds of which were corporations." Adference, an AdTech provider specialising in intelligent bid control for Amazon Advertising and Google Ads, and Erason, which has developed an AI-based market research tool and won the 2018 Leuphana Start-up Idea, are among successful spin-offs. Yet, projects such as createF, The Female Founders Show, have also landed on their feet. Founded by Franziska Pohlmann, a graduate of LUL, the start-up trains ten aspiring female founders and investors and offers them a platform to raise their visibility. Viewers can follow the start-up series on the firm's YouTube channel!
Chair for start-up management
The university's start-up assistance is part of a co-operation service for contacting potential partners and sponsors. Networking is thus far easier and lays the ground for technology transfer, which is stimulated by the Leuphana Start-up Ideas Competition and the annual Start-up Camp. Since 2002, the interdisciplinary Chair of Start-up Management has anchored entrepreneurship in academic teaching and research with emphasis on business administration, law and psychology.
Expertise in young, growth-orientated and versatile organisations
Professor Reinhard Schulte, Chair of Start-up Management, stressed: "The focus here is not on stock corporations' business management nor on groups with plenty of resources and specialised departments and bureaucratic structures. Start-ups are young, growth-orientated, still developing, mostly small and always very versatile organisations." Thus, the demands on graduates differ as do the academic approaches. The chair consolidates and sustains self-employment as a subject of research and teaching at the university. That goes far beyond individual projects and measures. "The topic is also part of the compulsory course of academic instruction and research. By creating a dedicated academic unit, the university highlights the importance it places on start-ups."