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the Pilot Action of Excellence on Innovative Start-ups
Europe Media Information Newsletter
Last update : 27/03/2006
  Karlsruhe - A region of excellence for innovative start-ups

The enlarged TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe, one of the most efficient regions of Europe, is located in the triangle between Mannheim, Stuttgart and Strasbourg.

The TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe is an association of 9 cities within a circle of 30 km, which was founded in 1987. The total population of the region is about 1,100,000 and the population of Karlsruhe City about 280,000. The region has a Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D of nearly 3,5% of GDP and nearly 21% of the employments are to be found in high-tech sectors.

Karlsruhe has become over the last two decades one of the hottest spots for business creation and innovation in Germany, ranking among the best regions for research, higher education and value creation.
  The technological innovation capacity of TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe

The enlarged TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe has an astounding number of technology-oriented higher education facilities and research institutions. According to the Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW), the resulting concentration of researchers and students in such a narrow space is one of the most outstanding in Europe. Higher education facilities and research institutions in this region are particularly application-oriented and cover almost the whole spectre of technological know-how required by industry. Traditional networks in industry, the Technical University of Karlsruhe (the oldest technical university of Germany), the Research Centre Karlsruhe (the biggest German research centre), the numerous institutes of the Fraunhofer Society and the transfer centres of the Steinbeis-Foundation, present a fruitful breeding ground for science-based business foundations. Based upon these strongly application-oriented research institutions, a considerable number of innovative SMEs with promising future potential developed in the region. The Karlsruhe Research Centre is one of the largest non-commercial science and engineering research institutions in Germany. It works on research and development problems of public interest, exclusively for peaceful purposes, in the fields of technology and environment. Its "Research for Environmentally Sustainable High Technologies" programme is concentrated on four main areas: environment, energy, microsystems engineering and fundamental research. It is guided by the research policy goals of its two partners, the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Baden-Württemberg. All in all there are ten higher education centres in Karlsruhe, ten R&D institutes, four scientific parks and fifteen incubator facilities.
  Education and training measures for workers

The TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe is a region of qualification. The offer of almost 100 practice-oriented further training bearers (to these belong all higher education facilities and research institutions, see above) is diverse and adjusted to the requirements of jobs and vocational opportunities. Long-standing cooperation of research and educational/vocational institutions allow for a broad variety of the qualification offer which especially includes new technologies and their applications. The training offer is targeted exclusively for employees and companies. Facilities apart from the higher education and research institutions are e.g. the educational centres of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Chamber of Craft Trades, and the Landesgewerbeamt (industrial office of the Land).

In the region exist more than 250 vocational centres in industry, craft trades and commerce for the vocational training as entry into the profession. Further vocational training is offered partly by nationally reputed Meisterschulen (colleges for graduating as Meister (master) in trade crafts), e.g. for the crafts of electronics and plumbing.

Entrepreneurship education and training measures

EXIST – University-based start-ups

The "EXIST – University-based start-ups" programme has four main objectives which stem from the analysis of technology transfer and the training offers at the universities and higher-education institutions :

  • The permanent creation of a "culture of entrepreneurship" in teaching, research and administration at higher-education institutions
  • Increasing knowledge spillover into economic value added – in line with the responsibility of higher-education institutions for technology transfer, newly formulated in §2 (/) HRG (basic university status Act)
  • The goal-directed promotion of the large potential for business ideas and entrepreneurs at higher-education institutions and research establishments
  • A significant increase in the number of innovative enterprise start-ups and the resulting creation of new and secure jobs

Since autumn 1998, EXIST regions have been working on the realisation of their network concepts in the higher-education institutions and research establishments. The TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe is one of the 5 German EXIST regions.

KEIM Centres for company development

As a complement to the obligatory – rather theory-oriented – studies this centres aims at providing an entrepreneurial education for those students that aim at founding their own businesses, either immediately after their studies or after having acquired professional experience.

The KEIM company development centres stimulate the set-up of entrepreneurial education (courses, seminars, study projects) in the different institutions and will coordinate the various offers.

  • KEIM Centre for Product and Service Development at the University of Karlsruhe
    • Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Betriebstechnik (wbk)
    • Institut für Maschinenkonstruktionslehre und Kraftfahrzeugbau (mkl)
    • Institut für Rechneranwendung in Planung und Konstruktion (RPK)
  • KEIM Centre for Business Development at the Fachhochschule Karlsruhe
  • KEIM Centre for Business Development at the Fachhochschule Pforzheim

KEIM Business Founder Accompaniment

The aim of the KEIM Business Founder Accompaniment is to offer a need-oriented individual consulting for (potential) founders which is complementary to the general orientation consulting as well as to establish suitable platforms for a fertile information and experience exchange among the regional business founders. In the comprehensive inquiry among business founders carried out at the beginning of the project, it could be found that business founders have expressed no need for general information or consulting offers but demand for individual offers. KEIM took up this need and introduced a corresponding business founder accompaniment.

Elements of the KEIM Business Founder Accompaniment are :

  • Business Founder Tutorials :
    • Accompanied by respectively one tutor, a business founding project is further elaborated. KEIM sets up a pool of potential tutors from the region
  • Business Founder Circles :
    • Moderated professionally, several business founding projects are intensively worked upon under professional moderation
  • KEIM Coaching Programme :
    • Provision of a coach as well as co-financing of measures such as market studies, information and patent research, fair and congress participation and the like
Chair of Entrepreneurship at the University of Karlsruhe

The Chair of Entrepreneurship at the University of Karlsruhe, donated by SAP AG, is held by Mr Reinhold Würth, President of the Würth-group established by him. This Chair aims at preparing academic youngsters of all disciplines for starting a self-employment career by providing them with theoretical and practical knowledge. As one of the most reputed entrepreneurs in Germany, Mr Würth seems most apt to transmit the necessary knowledge on founding businesses to students, to establish a network of activities on business foundation and –continuing and to initiate co-operations.

Simplification for business start-up

The University of Karlsruhe, the Fachhochschule Karlsruhe, the Fachhochschule Pforzheim, the Research Centre Karlsruhe, the City of Karlsruhe, the TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe, the Karlsruhe Chamber for Industry and Commerce as well as more than 100 partners of research, industry and administration have joined forces to increase the number of business establishment borne out of universities and research centres. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) has selected KEIM in the framework of the EXIST competition in August 1998 from more than 100 candidates to become one of five model regions in Germany. The project is funded by the BMBF with approx. 5 m€ for a project duration of about 3 years. There are several projects aimed at promoting business plan start-up including the Business Plan Competition, the Experienced Company Founders Supporting New Company Founders Network, the Network of Regional Businesses Starting Consulting Institutions and the Cyber Forum, the virtual enterprise start-up centre. Karlsruhe Competence Centre for Financing (capital for business opportunities) is the financing instrument set up by regional banks and the City of Karlsruhe to make it easier for business founders to obtain start-up capital.

Innovation culture / Creation of NTBFs / Spin-off

There is location and application synergy derived from the many researchers and application located in Karlsruhe, which as led to the creation of many business start-ups. A study on the quantity of start-ups shows that on average, 2.61 technology-based companies were founded per 1000 employees (Baden-Württemberg, 1983-1993). The TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe lies 10% above the national average in terms of high-tech-foundation, according to analyses of the ZEW Mannheim. This may be exemplified by the number of business foundation of one the most successful incubator in Germany: The incubator centre Technologiefabrik Karlsruhe had its 15th anniversary in 1999, at which time there were 170 business founders. This means that more than 100 business founders left the Technologiefabrik and settled in the region. Almost 70 business founders are currently working in the Technologiefabrik Karlsruhe; about 40% of these company start-ups were direct spin-offs of universities and research institutions.

KEIM – some successes

Over the last three years, the KEIM initiative has registered over 130 business foundations linked to the KEIM-initiative itself. They generated about 800 high qualified jobs.

Research Centre Karlsruhe wins Beckurts Price

The Research Centre Karlsruhe, as one of the big institutions within the association of the research centres of the "Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft", has considerably participated in the establishment of KEIM; therefore, it seems logical that the Research Centre Karlsruhe and the Foundation "Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC)" (Max-Delbrück centre for molecular medicine) in Berlin won the "Beckurts-Price" for example approaches to stimulate and promote start-ups of research centres.

  Contact details

Haid-und-Neu-Straße 7
e-mail : (email removed)
inno AG
Karlstraße 45B
e-mail : (email removed)