WHU Entrepreneurship Center –

Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit at WHU

About us

The WHU Entrepreneurship Center’s mission is to educate, inspire, and support the WHU community in fostering impassioned, purposeful, ethical, and sustainable entrepreneurship - providing an intellectual, virtual, and physical hub where people connect, ideas turn into action, and resources are allocated equitably - to build a vibrant entrepreneurial future for students, alumni, and other ecosystem partners.   

The WHU Entrepreneurship Center delivers a wide range of academic and experiential learning activities including courses, workshops, trainings, and practical programming that coordinates and expands upon WHU’s rich entrepreneurial assets - further establishing WHU as a comprehensive and connected node in Germany’s vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

 

The Entrepreneurship Center develops a vital entrepreneurial ecosystem around its locations Vallendar, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

Our Objectives:

  • To promote collaboration and coordination among WHU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and partners that fosters entrepreneurship opportunities across the ecosystem
  • To expand WHU students’ entrepreneurial competencies in the classroom and beyond.
  • To maintain WHU’s institutional knowledge about entrepreneurship activities in and around the WHU ecosystem
  • To strengthen WHU’s thought leadership in entrepreneurship
  • To complete WHU’s entrepreneurship value chain with learning, guidance, and resources so founders can go from idea to market efficiently and effectively

WHU Accelerator

The WHU Accelerator is an equity-free, 7-week, intensive program for WHU students, alumni, and staff designed to provide rocket fuel for their new ventures. The program will kick off in mid-May and culminates with a Demo Day to investors in early July.

In between are three intensive phases:

  • Phase One is "Mentor Mayhem", where founders teams meet 8 mentors each day to receive feedback on their business models.
  • Phase Two is focused on "Product-Market Fit", with workshops on relevant topics and time to further develop their business ideas.
  • Phase Three focuses on "Fundraising". During these weeks, pitches are developed, and the topic of capitalization and investors is addressed.

Finally, on "Demo Day", the pitches are delivered, with an audience of business angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, and guests from the WHU ecosystem, offering a unique opportunity to possibly even receive seed funding. Top teams are then selected to participate in the WHU Investor Roadshow and Stage Two, Europe's university startup competition.

Find out more

Our team

Gerrit McGowan

Managing Director
+49 (0)172 3177061
send email
short biography

Professor Dr.
Christoph Hienerth

Academic Co-Director
+49 (0)261 6509 261
send email
short biography

Professor Dr.
Dries Faems

Academic Co-Director
+49 (0)261 6509 235
send email
more information

Sigrid Dethloff

Operations Manager
+49 (0)211 44709 262
send email

Janine Heinrich

Marketing Manager
send email

Paul Appel

Podcast Producer
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Our partners
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News & stories

News from our Center – Find out more about our entrepreneurial activities.

WHU Entrepreneurship Center and BD Rowa collaborate

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Meet the founders that are revolutionizing everything from laser cutting to e-commerce

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Fostering the next generation of WHU startups

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Generating ideas with Design Thinking

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Insider tips and tricks to securing funding

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Teaching the importance of Customer-Centricity

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Our WHU Entrepreneurship Center Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and keep up to date with our current happenings.

Our student clubs

Reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit –
Setting standards in the start-up scene.

3 Day Startup
WHU Founders Bootcamp

40 creative students, three days, one goal: start your own company. Can you set up a business in just three days? Yes!

www.3dsgermany.com

Business Meets Tech
WHU's Tech Initiative

WHU’s first initiative revolving around tech and IT. We aim towards encouraging students with a business background to engage themselves with tech-related topics.

www.businessmeetstech.de

Enactus WHU Vallendar e.V.
Vision A, Help-O-Mat and more

Enactus inspires students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action. The Enactus WHU Vallendar team is recognized as a non-profit organization, currently engaging in international and national projects.

www.vallendar.enactus.de

IdeaLab!
WHU Founders' Conference

Established as Europe's premier student-led founders' conference, our annual event unites experienced founders, vcs, investors as well as ambitious students for the interactive exchange of ideas and experiences.

www.idealab.io

SensAbility
The WHU Impact Summit

SensAbility is Europe's largest student-organised, non-profit conference on social and sustainable business. The name is derived from the words "sense" (perception) and "ability" (ability to achieve something in particular) and once again emphasises the aim of sensitising people and companies to social issues and thus motivating them to act sustainably.

www.sensability.de

SmartUp!
The WHU Entrepreneur Network

SmartUp! hosts regular on-campus workshops with experienced entrepreneurs, and organizes yearly tours to Berlin, Cologne, and Munich to visit selected set of startups from various industries.

www.whu-smartup.org

Start-Up Academy
by Jugend gründet & WHU

The annual conference gives students from all over Germany basic knowledge about startups and impulses for self-employment. With >150 participants, we offer a platform for exchange and the realisation of ideas. 

www.startupacademywhu.de

WHU Entrepreneurship Roundtable
An Initiative of MBA students at WHU

We offer a platform to discuss business ideas, practice pitching and receive expert advice on startups and entrepreneurship.

www.whu.edu/er

To follow our latest news and events, follow us on Instagram.  

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WHU Entrepreneurship Center –
Our key activities.

Research & Education

The field of entrepreneurship is characterized by a very dynamic development of participating actors, organizations and available tools and methods. Within the framework of a research-based business school the WHU Entrepreneurship Center contributes to the diffusion of top tier research and practically oriented case studies: It connects the entrepreneurship related chairs and research activities to WHU’s stakeholders and business partners. We perform research that is based on current phenomena and real needs of businesses and help to solve some of the challenges that individual or corporate entrepreneurs face.

Within the ecosystem of startups, various types of investors, corporate firms, and future entrepreneurs need to know how to develop, accelerate and scale business ideas. Corporate managers need to know how to identify, deal and successfully cooperate with startups. Financial investors need to know when to invest in startups and how to control their progress. Future entrepreneurs need to know when to close a deal with an investor or corporate, when to pivot their venture or expand internationally. Thus, every actor involved in this steadily evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem heavily depends on the available knowledge and information.

Entrepreneurship is a highly fragmented field of research. A common perspective in entrepreneurship that has emerged over the last couple of years is dynamic and process oriented. It focuses on two main aspects along the development of new ventures: the presence of entrepreneurial opportunities and of entrepreneurial individuals. Another important and recent trend in entrepreneurship research is dealing with entrepreneurial business models and business ecosystems. While we are interested and engaged in various aspects of entrepreneurship, we specifically focus on these topics: 

  • Open Innovation and Business Ecosystems
  • Corporate Entrepreneurship and Transformation
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship
  • Female Entrepreneurship

Our partners can participate in and shape such knowledge creation by facilitating Bachelor, Master and MBA thesis topics or supporting PhD level research. In that respect, the role of the Entrepreneurship Center is to generate, and diffuse research and information about latest tools and methods to identify promising business ideas and various approaches of cooperation between investors, incumbent firms and startups. For our corporate partners and regional organizations, the Entrepreneurship Center offers facilitation of roundtable discussion as well as specific workshops and executive education training.

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Supporting & Coaching

WHU has always strived to build a creative and innovative environment, which inspires others to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. For future entrepreneurs and startups, the Entrepreneurship Center can provide valuable information about firm internal entrepreneurial topics and search processes, selection criteria, financing opportunities and cooperation frameworks. For Center members and strategic partners on the corporate side, the Center can contribute to identifying promising ideas and individuals and thereby fuelling the deal flow processes.

We advise corporate startups and innovation managers looking for latest tools and insights to test and develop their novel business ideas. We support our partners in fostering internal entrepreneurship culture and creativity or in sourcing for innovative solution via external Open Innovation projects with students and startups.

For early-stage WHU student and alumni startups, WHU Entrepreneurship Center offers individual coaching and support in the prototyping and idea-testing phase. Later-stage startups can benefit from numerous offerings such as co-founder search opportunities, access to regional and global WHU network and specific information. Together with the WHU Incubator, the WHU Entrepreneurship Center organizes startup roadshows and facilitates individual matching on demand.

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Ecosystem Building

WHU has had a large share in making Berlin one of the most prominent startup hubs worldwide. We are well connected to entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, accelerators and individuals who are part of the exceptional entrepreneurial network of WHU. The Entrepreneurship Center further aims at building future startup, corporate and university connections and thereby developing a vital entrepreneurial ecosystem around WHU and its locations in Vallendar, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

We are especially interested in building interdisciplinary startup teams and matching business students to students from technical and natural science research institutions by establishing and developing contacts to other universities such as RWTH Aachen and Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf. In the form of lectures, conferences and specific events at WHU, the Entrepreneurship Center provides opportunities for all actors of the ecosystem to meet, engage and collaborate, thereby jointly shaping the future development of the startup scene in Germany and beyond.

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Fostering sustainable business practise and social innovation is another area where WHU Entrepreneurship Center takes an active role via interdisciplinary research and open Innovation projects with academia, industry and policy makers.

We want to demonstrate that entrepreneurship and innovation can be tools that can help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and encourage our student founder as well as corporate partners to engage in knowledge sharing and collaborative action.

In this regard, in January 2018, Dr. Monika Hauck took on the role as a City Ambassador for the British Social Enterprise Fashion Revolution. In cooperation with the Sustainability Department of the HSBC Germany, City of Düsseldorf, Manufactum Brot&Butter and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, the WHU Entrepreneurship Center has hosted four Fashion Revolution events to address the social and environmental issues caused by the fast fashion industry and to celebrate entrepreneurs and social innovators working to challenge the status quo. Guests of the event series, among others, included representatives of C&A Foundation, Hessnatur, Fond Of, Deichmann, Wunderwerk Fashion, Kornit Digital and Hochschule Niederrhein. All Fashion Revolution events are free of charge and aim to promote conscious consumption and celebrate sustainable entrepreneurship practise.

It is not a secret that the entrepreneurship scene in general and in Germany, more particularly, lacks female founders. Promoting and supporting Female Entrepreneurship is thus a key goal of the WHU Entrepreneurship Center. Within this objective, the Center has called to life three Female Founders Scholarships at WHU Master in Entrepreneurship program. Scholarship programs cover two semesters of the study tuition. With these scholarships, we not only want to encourage women to use their entrepreneurial potential, but also to equip them with the necessary know-how and useful networks and support to succeed after graduation.

Learn more

Get in touch

Gerrit McGowan

Managing Director

+49 (0)172 3177061
gerrit.mcgowan(at)whu.edu

How to find us:

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Burgplatz 2
56179 Vallendar
Germany