FAU receives award from Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs
Existency concept scores in the national competition EXIST Culture of Entrepreneurship competition
On 3 December 2019, FAU and its partners received an award in the EXIST-Potentials competition run by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs. In the national EXIST Culture of Entrepreneurship competition, FAU was able to convince the specialist jury of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with its Existency concept, winning an award in the category ‘regional networking’ together with its partner universities from the region, Technische Hochschule Nürnberg and Hochschule Ansbach. The ‘Existency’ project has been granted approximately three million euros for the purpose of continuing to strengthen, professionalise, connect and scale scientific spin-offs in Middle Franconia over the coming years. Viable start-up networks are promoted throughout the whole of the Middle Franconia region as a result.
Innovation meets entrepreneurship
FAU was selected from a total of 220 universities and institutions of higher education in the category ‘regional networking’. It is one of the most innovative universities in the world. In the current Reuters innovation ranking it is number one in Germany and number 14 in the world. It systematically promotes scientific start-ups and accompanies its start-ups during the entire process from mobilisation, team-building and obtaining start-up funding until such time as they are established on the market, with FAU continuing to support their growth during all stages.
In its Office of Knowledge and Technology Transfer and Continuing Education (Kontaktstelle für Wissens- und Technologietransfer), FAU has an excellent start-up service which provides effective support for science-based start-ups. The FAU Digital Tech Academy mobilises digital entrepreneurial talents across the various faculties and subjects at FAU, and the newly established FAU Sandbox Innovation Fund offers initial start-up funding to start-up teams which show potential. At FAU’s initiative, the digital start-up centre ZOLLHOF – Tech Incubator was established in Nuremberg, providing a launchpad for national and international start-ups. Collaboration between FAU and the regional Fraunhofer institutes has recently led to the establishment of the regional High-Performance Centre LZE, which offers innovative options for science-based spin-offs. In this strong environment, approximately 80 percent of science and technology-oriented start-ups from FAU are able to secure a stable foothold on the market over the long term. It is this strategic strength which FAU now hopes to consolidate and to expand to cover the entire region of Middle Franconia together with its partners.
BMWi provides funding for FAU initiative ‘Existency’
Together with TH Nürnberg and Hochschule Ansbach, FAU will establish an efficient and powerful start-up promotion cluster for the entire Middle Franconia region within the context of the ‘Existency’ initiative. ‘We are thrilled to win this award,’ says Prof. Dr. Kathrin M. Möslein, Vice President Outreach at FAU. ‘The funding awarded to Existency recognises the efforts of all the partners involved. Together with our regional partners we will ensure that entrepreneurial talents with a scientific background find an attractive and productive environment for their start-ups.’ The partners involved believe that the region has a particularly high potential for start-ups and innovation in the areas of digitalisation, energy, medical engineering and service innovation.
The Existency initiative pursues three central lines of action: (1) building a team of qualified experts best suited to the job, (2) encouraging the early development of prototypes and testing possibilities and (3) promoting professionalism in the network. Most academic spin-offs lack market expertise and management experience. Existency aims to compensate these deficits by encouraging the development of specific skills and integrating practical experience of the market and entrepreneurial experience into the early stages of the start-up process. Three lines of action have been defined to meet this goal: the main objective of Train for Traction is to develop and extend skills in the areas of team organisation, management and distribution, helping start-up teams rapidly find acceptance in the market and from investors. In the line of action known as Reality Bites, the start-ups are encouraged to find the product-market fit as soon as possible, for example with resources for developing marketable prototypes and test companies which enable start-ups to start out into business without incurring start-up risks. Finally, the line of action Professionalize is aimed at allowing start-up projects to profit early on from the practical experiences of successful start-ups and companies thanks to a mentor network. Connecting knowledge and stakeholders on a regional basis is the key to establishing the start-up cluster. The FAU motto ‘Knowledge in motion’ is the guiding principle and framework for the initiative.
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