Rafaela Kraus (left) and Nadine Chochoiek
© UniBw M / Ch. Siebold

founders@unibw: The Entrepreneurship Program of Bundeswehr University Munich

Bundeswehr University Munich launched a new program in 2019. With ‘founders@unibw,’ the team wants to support entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. We learned more about how they want to do that in our interview with Rafaela Kraus, vice president of entrepreneurship and the department of applied sciences, and Nadine Chochoiek, head of founders@unibw and consultant for entrepreneurship and technology transfer. Some of the Munich startups that have already benefitted from their services are Quantum Systems, STABL, Hattec and Molabo.

Munich Startup: Please introduce yourselves and founders@unibw!

founders@unibw: We’re the entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship program of Bundeswehr University Munich (UniBw M), known as ‘founders@unibw.’ With customized and multifaceted services, we help turn research results and business ideas into innovative founding projects and startups.

Our team of academic staff and ‘founders in residence’ aims to identify innovative ideas and provide inspiration as well as further training and education. We make the necessary resources available. In addition to consulting, we also offer a startup incubator that primarily reaches out to researchers, as well as an intrapreneurship incubator specifically for students. This allows us to evaluate and optimize the potential of their ideas together. There’s also the opportunity to use the remote ‘maker space’, which is known as ‘LabNet’ here. It’s a place where prototypes can be built. Our experts are also available to help potential founders with different topics, such as innovation, agile coaching, digital marketing or statistical services – and it’s all free.

Incubator, lab and consulting

Munich Startup: How long have you been around?

founders@unibw: Our program launched in 2019 and has been funded since 2020 by Exist-Potentials and government funding from the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) to establish an innovation center. Since October 2020, a diverse and competent team has been available to advance and support your entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship project.

Munich Startup: What do you focus on when working with startups?

founders@unibw: We see our main area of focus in B2G(overnment) business models and subjects that are also a good fit for our fields of research at the university, such as ‘New Space’. In this context, we’re establishing the first European ‘New Space’ accelerator together with the French CNES, German DLR and the ESA. We also want to precisely understand the needs of our “customers,” meaning founders and potential founders, and create tailor-made services. We do so by relying on collaboration with other universities and startup centers as well as established startups.

founders@unibw is also planning a ‘New Space’ accelerator

Munich Startup: To be successful, a startup needs to…

founders@unibw: … always stay focused on the customer and user, be productive and be able to overcome supposed setbacks.

Munich Startup: Why would a good startup need you to back them?

founders@unibw: In contrast to other university players, UniBw M is a federal university, which gives us good access to the Bundeswehr and other federal authorities. Because the government is an important contracting entity for startups, we teach them how they can competently and accurately approach these customers. On top of that, we have our LabNet with superbly equipped laboratories, a mobility test site, experts in various fields, a co-working space and much more, which can also help even established startups.

Munich Startup: What are the biggest mistakes a startup can make?

founders@unibw: Losing sight of their customer or user. A lack of diversity in the team. Giving up too quickly.

Munich Startup: The trend of the year is…!

founders@unibw: ‘New Space,’ edutech and definitely many more pandemic-based innovations.

Universities in Munich are world-class

Munich Startup: What makes the Munich startup scene so special?

founders@unibw: On the one hand, we have world-class universities here in Munich that have already introduced a multitude of successful technologies to the economy in the form of startups. On the other hand, the industrial environment is particularly attractive for B2B and B2G startups.

Munich Startup: Last but not least: Whom should startups contact if they would like to meet up with you?

founders@unibw: Feel free to contact our startup coaches, Annie or Matthias, to make an initial consulting appointment. You can also find all of our team members here – we look forward to hearing from you.

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