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Co-Founder Matching at WHU

Successful university spin-offs through collaboration with WHU business talents

Research teams struggle to become founders without experienced business team members.

The strategy consultancy McKinsey & Company estimates that increasing the number of new start-ups through additional initiatives will create an additional €500B in value and 340,000 jobs by 2030. A majority of these ventures could come from universities. 1,350 additional start-ups founded from universities in 2030 is the estimated number that McKinsey predicts.

So-called “deep-tech” startups that rely on profound technological understanding are at the core of the next wave of European innovation. Technical faculties are the institutions that foster the talent and intellectual property necessary to create such ventures.

According to the Deutscher Startup Monitor, 55,9 % of academic founders see transitioning from a scientific to an entrepreneurial role as a crucial challenge for establishing successful spin-offs.

But there are significant obstacles stopping university scientists from becoming entrepreneurs. How to solve this problem? A team of founders who provide scientific and entrepreneurial know-how has proven to be a good choice.

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management educates Germany’s most successful founders:

15 unicorns = more than any other university in the DACH region¹
#1 German business school for degree programs and entrepreneurship education²
#1 Alma mater of founders of “Top-500 Start-ups” in Germany relative to its student population³
#1 University alumni network of active Business Angels and Venture Capital investors in DACH

1) Research teams create a short summary  of their team & innovation in English (best including: innovation, potential applications, current team & funding, and future timeline and projects)

2) The WHU Entrepreneurship Center forwards co-founding requests to its talent pool. The co-founding opportunities are published on the In Praxi job platform and sent to a selected mailing list of WHU students and alumni.

3) In Praxi is the alumni association of WHU.​ 90% of all graduates are members and can be addressed via mailing and our own intranet. ​Every WHU alumnus has direct access to our network of prestigious WHU founders and investors and can leverage this access for every venture they engage in.

4) Interested WHU alumni reach out to the research team to talk about further details.

Successful WHU-X Examples of Co-Founding:

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Adhesys Medical
WHU alumnus Marius Rosenberg
"When WHU alumnus Marius Rosenberg joined the scientists of RWTH Aachen University in 2014, the research team had been already working on its revolutionary polyurethane-based surgical sealants since 2007. After joining the team, Marius started the fundraising process within the WHU alumni community to secure a first pre-seed investment. Afterward, he took over a central role in developing a business pitch that won the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston, Texas which led to a $2.7 million investment by US investors and, in 2017, the acquisition of the spin-off to the pharmaceutical company Grünenthal."
BioThrust
WHU alumnus Konstantin Kurz
"WHU alumnus Konstantin Kurz joined forces with the RWTH members Patrick Bongartz and Moritz to turn the latters‘ research results into a company. BioThrust develops tailor-made, retrofittable gassing systems for bioreactors, which are more effective than all conventional systems.

Together, the team wrote the application for the EXIST Forschungstransfer (Research Transfer) grant and were successful. In 2022 they incorporated their company."
Carbon One
WHU alumnus Christian Vollmann
"Serial founder and WHU alumnus Christian Vollmann plans to bring climate-friendly fuels to the market with his startup Carbon One (C1). It is about green methanol as an alternative to diesel, which is mainly used in shipping. In addition to Christian Vollmann, C1 is backed by three chemists: Marek Checinski, Ralph Krähnert and Christoph Zehe. A total of around 13 million euros has already been invested in the start-up. Investors include the Danish shipping group Maersk with its venture capital arm Maersk Growth, as well as Planet A Ventures and Paua Ventures."
eleQtron
WHU alumnus Jan Henrik Leisse
"WHU alumnus Jan Henrik Leisse joined Professor Christof Wunderlich to help turn research on ion-based quantum computers at University Siegen into a potential market leader in this space.

As the first German developer of quantum computers, eleQtron was able to raise over €50 million in new funds, including venture capital from Earlybird and Siegerlandfonds. eleQtron’s website reads: “With his process-oriented working style, [Jan] is the driving force behind eleQtron’s fast growth.”"
InCirT
WHU alumnus Sebastian Waters
"WHU alumnus Sebastian Waters joined InCirt after a team of RWTH scientists reached out to us to find a business co-founder for their already successful EXIST Forschungstransfer (research transfer) grant. After joining the team, Sebastian supported the spin-off in their fundraising process and was able to convince German VC High-Tech Gründerfonds of the potential InCirT’s microchips for the next generation of mobile wireless communication."
INZIPIO
WHU alumnus Thomas Roth
"The health tech startup, which develops AI-powered medical software for automated surgical planning, was founded by Dr. Stefan Raith, Tobias Pankert, and WHU alumnus Thomas Roth, who were connected via the Co-founding Newsletter connecting aspiring entrepreneurs from the WHU and RWTH Aachen community.

To date, the team has received over € 1 Million in grants from EXIST Forschungstransfer and won multiple awards from Digital Innovation 2019, Science4Life Venture Cup 2020, Medizinwirtschaft / proRuhr 2020, and Gründungswettbewerb AC² 2020/2021."
LIDROTEC
WHU alumnus Alexander Igelmann
"WHU alumnus Alexander Igelmann joined a research team of Ruhr-University Bochum Ph.D. candidates to support them in their EXIST Forschungstransfer application and project.

Since then, the team – which creates developed new technologies for wafer dicing in the production of semiconductors – raised €5m in venture capital, was able to join prestigious programs INTEL Ignite, and won multiple awards, including the world’s largest and richest intercollegiate startup competition “Rice Business Plan Competition” with support from RWTH Aachen."
ProteinDistillery
WHU alumnus Marco Ries
"Christoph Pitter and his fellow student Michael Baunach had the idea to change the way plant protein is produced and their founding project was initially supported by Hochschule Esslingen where they completed their BSc. Prof. Tomas Kurz and WHU Alumnus Marco Ries joined the founding team and since 2021 the biotech company has been operating under the name: ProteinDistillery GmbH. The start-up offers a new process for developing brewer's yeast into a tasty protein source and the final product is currently in development for larger food manufacturers. At the European competition “Stage Two”, the successful team won the Sustainability Award and a €10,000 cash prize for their innovative product. ProteinDistillery was also rewarded with the Next Economy Award (NEA 2.0) 2023, which lauds green start-ups, at the 15th German Sustainability Day in Düsseldorf."
xemX
WHU alumnus Sebastian Johnston
"The RUB scientists Dr. Olga Krysiak, Dr. Lars Banko, and Sven Maihöfer were researching AI-solutions to identify precious metal-free catalysts for the production of green hydrogen.

To turn their research into a business, the RUB Worldfactory Start-up Center reached out to us to help find a business co-founder. WHU alumnus Sebastian Johnston joined the team and xemX was recently awarded the EXIST Forschungstransfer (Research Transfer) grant."
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Co-Founder Matching Program:

Adding a co-founder from WHU can accelerate the transition from research teams to startups. And this is where the WHU Entrepreneurship Center steps in with its Co-Founder Matching Program.

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