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New Ideas Where Three Borders Meet

KTUR Startup & Innovation Nights encourage researchers and students to be entrepreneurial

Freiburg, Apr 06, 2021

In the belief that creativity knows no bounds, KTUR Startup & Innovation Nights will take place for the first time on 21 and 22 April 2021. On two successive evenings, the Knowledge Transfer Upper Rhine (KTUR) project is offering researchers, students and entrepreneurs from the Upper Rhine region the opportunity to network across national borders and together develop innovative project ideas for the future. Dr. Frauke Lorenzen from the Founders’ Office of the University of Freiburg is coordinating ‘Gründen am Oberrhein’ on starting a business for KTUR. She spoke to Sebastian Unsicker.

Innovation from the Upper Rhine region. We need creative thinkers to take on the challenges of tomorrow. Photo: Sandra Meyndt

Ms Lorenzen, KTUR wants to draw on the potential of this area where three countries meet for ‘transfer’. What exactly does transfer mean?

Frauke Lorenzen: The KTUR project is designed to encourage knowledge and technology transfer as a whole. We want it to strengthen the mutual interaction of universities, but also with other innovators, for example from business. This involves things like networking and education opportunities. As part of the project, the University of Freiburg is overseeing the concept of ‘Gründen am Oberrhein’. This is of course a special aspect of technology transfer, which mainly looks at issues of establishing a business and start-ups.

Why is this area where the countries meet so well suited to this?

The Upper Rhine region metropolitan area where Germany, France and Switzerland meet is an extraordinary area: We have universities that cover every specialism and conduct cutting-edge research here, we have competitive companies and innovative start-ups here. Cooperation and an exchange of ideas across national borders are an advantage. We’re competing with other centers of innovation such as Berlin and Munich, and KTUR is a great opportunity to enhance the profile of the region and achieve greater visibility.

What fields could find the offering attractive?

Freiburg is a comprehensive university and therefore really has great potential. We have spin-offs in all faculties; these include start-ups in the fields of medicine, technology, and also the humanities. However for the KTUR Startup & Innovation Nights we are focusing on two thematic clusters: Health/Life Sciences and Green Tech.

Frauke Lorenzen wants to strengthen entrepreneurial spirit in the Upper Rhine region with the KTUR project. Photo: Sandra Meyndt

Is there a lot of entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Freiburg?

We believe there could be a lot more, and that’s what we aim to achieve with KTUR: rousing the entrepreneurial spirit. We want to inspire enthusiasm for creating spin-offs. We’ve been successful for example with the launch of the PhD Talks, an event at which roughly 50 young researchers took part. In this KTUR series, founders from the tri-border region report on how they left the path of academia and founded a company. It’s an event not only for doctoral students but also for students and postdocs, introducing them to different paths into entrepreneurialism and the potential for cross-border support.

KTUR wants to network various players. What’s the importance of cooperation and teamwork in this?

Huge! Almost every new company begins with a team, it’s the fundamental element of a start-up. Everyone has their own particular qualities, and ideally a team consists of individuals whose qualities are complementary. One person brings creativity, another is responsible for the technology, yet another deals with the financial aspects, and then you also need someone who understands marketing. The subject of ‘Team Building’ will be looked at in the next of our PhD Talks on 15 April.

KTUR Startup & Innovation Nights