A hothouse of innovation in our own region: University of Bayreuth successful in EXIST funding competition
Promoting innovative ideas and creative business concepts, expanding study and further training opportunities for start-up founders, intensifying regional knowledge and technology transfer, and linking the University of Bayreuth even more closely than before with companies, institutions, and organisations in its own region – these are just some of the goals of the proposal with which the University of Bayreuth was able to prevail in the „EXIST-Potenziale“ funding competition of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy. Over the next four years, it will receive around € 2.2 million from the „Regional Networking“ line of funding for putting its concept into practice.
Nationwide, 220 universities and colleges took part in the competition, 142 of which have now been awarded funding.
„The University of Bayreuth has maintained a powerful network for knowledge and technology transfer for many years. With its Entrepreneurship & Innovation staff unit, and in close cooperation with regional partners, it has created a dynamic start-up culture right here on campus. The success in the nationwide funding competition gives these efforts a significant boost looking forward. By expanding our cooperation with companies and strengthening the start-up principle in teaching and studies, we want to continue our strong commitment to ensuring that the Upper Franconian region becomes a community space for innovation and start-up initiatives in times of rapid economic change,“ says Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible, President of the University of Bayreuth.
The new activities in the area of entrepreneurship and innovation meet the requirements of well-established companies in the region, and are being received with great interest by the regional start-up scene. „Start-ups need a lively exchange of ideas and cooperation both amongst themselves and with established companies. Start-ups benefit from the experience and know-how of regional companies, and can contribute new ideas and innovative business models to the network,“ says Sebastian Schmidt, CEO of the Bayreuth start-up groupXS Solutions.
Four more professorships in the field of entrepreneurship are to be established in the near future. In August 2019 Prof. Dr. Rodrigo Isidor became Chair of Human Resources & Intrapreneurship. „I am pleased to be able to contribute to the positive development of the University and the region with my opportunities to teach and transfer knowledge, skills, and experience,“ says Prof. Dr. Isidor. In addition, the Bavarian Council of Ministers has approved initial planning funds for the construction of an Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) on the Bayreuth Campus, which is scheduled to open in 2026. In addition, the City of Bayreuth is planning a regional innovation centre (RIZ) in the immediate vicinity of the Institute.
“For all these initiatives, the University of Bayreuth will cooperate with the existing start-up services of the Upper Franconian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Bayreuth and the Upper Franconian Chamber of Skilled Crafts, as well as with state institutions for economic development. The proposal, which has now been honoured by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, aims to manifest the mission statement of the University of Bayreuth as a breeding ground for creativity and innovation in almost all fields of activity in our region, and to act as a catalyst for new corporate concepts, business ideas, and start-ups,” says Dr. Petra Beermann, Head of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation staff unit at the University of Bayreuth. To this end, regional data relevant to start-ups is to be collected and networked on a regular basis; while further-training courses in cooperation with the Campus Academy of the University of Bayreuth and other educational institutions will provide the up-to-date start-up know-how necessary. Also serving this purpose are formats such as the „Innovation Boot Camps“, at which renowned founders and innovators support students and teams of founders, and the „Ideation Days“, which familiarize students with methods of idea generation and problem analysis.
„At the University of Bayreuth, we have a lot of plans for the future: As a hothouse for innovations, we wish to identify particularly innovative talents and potential founders in our own region, bring people with various, mutually-complementary ideas together, and give them space to try out their start-up concepts that result. In doing so, we encourage the empirically based assessment of risk and opportunities, as well as the development of viable business models. We would like our own university campus to exemplify a can-do attitude of trial-and-error, and carry the torch out into the region. Amidst all this activity, we will always keep an eye on global driving forces, for example in the field of artificial intelligence or biotechnology,“ says Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann, Vice President of the University of Bayreuth for Digitalization and Innovation.
Our existing and new formats are designed for the long haul. They will be incorporated into the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2026. Until then, the University will create further offerings in cooperation with regional players that are tailored to the challenges of regional companies.
Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann
Chair of Information Systems Management
Vice-President for Digitalization and Innovation
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-7660
Dr. Petra Beermann
Staff Unit „Entrepreneurship & Innovation“
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-4720