WHU Entrepreneurship Center –

Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit at WHU

About us

Why is there such an amazing entrepreneurial spirit at WHU? Because over the last 35 years, our students and alumni have created more than 500 startups, among which 4 became unicorns. The topic of entrepreneurship is still on the rise and students are more than ever interested in entrepreneurial activities, either by starting their own venture or within a corporate setting by developing technology, novel products and services. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center has been established with a clear goal to support this tradition and motivation of our students. It is a central platform, which links all academic units at WHU that are involved in entrepreneurship and digitalization topics, as well as students clubs and the WHU Incubator. We want to engage with corporate partners, startups, investors, alumni and students to jointly build and strengthen the WHU entrepreneurship ecosystem around its locations in Vallendar, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

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

The WHU Entrepreneurship Center focuses on three major fields of activities: 1) Research and Education, 2) Supporting and Coaching and 3) Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building. We welcome all activities, projects and cases from individual entrepreneurs and established companies that wish to engage in joint work with highly motivated students and researchers.

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
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short biography

Professor Dr.
Dries Faems

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

Sigrid Dethloff

Operations Manager
+49 (0)211 44709 262
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Janine Heinrich

Marketing Manager
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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.

Generating ideas with Design Thinking

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Teaching the importance of Customer-Centricity

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It’s crazy to think that we’re already on Season Three! Can you believe it!

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Henry Chesbrough’s opinions in WHU’s Most Awesome Founder Podcast

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The new 7-week Accelerator Program for WHU startup teams begins in May 2021

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Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth in an interview with Campus TV (in German)

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Valuable insights on startup acceleration plus announcement of the WHU Summer Accelerator!

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Our WHU Entrepreneurship Center Newsletter

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

Our next events:

METRO collaboration

Linking theory and practice –
The Entrepreneurship Center collaboration with METRO.

Through the collaboration with Metro, the Entrepreneurship Center strives to build a bridge between theory and practice. Metro is committed to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the Horeca space, by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking and activing of its employees and by actively supporting and collaborating with startups and Own Business Owners.

METRO Xcel (previously METRO Accelerator) operates under Hospitality Digital with the mission to bring digital solutions to the hospitality & retail sectors and is also a platform for innovators, founders, partner networks and independent business owners. In order to cater to the target groups of METRO, there are two METRO Xcel programmes:

  • Hospitality tech, which focuses on solutions for the hotel, restaurant and catering sector.
  • Retail tech, which focuses on the retail, wholesale and trade sector.

METRO Xcel is the first-of-its kind programme designed for later stage tech start-ups in the hospitality and retail sectors that are looking to expand into new geographies, exponentially or into any of the two respective industries. The programme is the result of years of collaborating with startups, corporates and small businesses.

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Get in touch

Lovisa Hedlund


NX-Food stands for Next Generation Food and is a hub of METRO for new food solutions. The range of NX-Food topics covers alternative protein sources, sustainable food solutions, food waste reduction, vertical farming as well as innovative and functional food concepts for gastronomy and end consumers.

Founded in March 2018, NX-Food has over 800 food startups in its network and entered the list of Top-18 German innovation labs. Within the Startup Shelf Programme, NX-Food identifies the most innovative food and beverage products for METRO stores in Germany and Austria.

The mission of NX-Food is to enrich the food industry with products from forward-looking entrepreneurs, open the door to ingenious tastes and make them accessible to the general public.

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Valerie Karahan

LeadX Capital Partners manages venture and growth capital fund with METRO AG as its major Limited Partner. Founded in 2017, LeadX Capital’s mission is to encourage the development of digital solutions in hospitality, food and retail. It operates under a combined strength of deep investment experience and commercial reach. With 70+ companies in its portfolio, LeadX Capital Partners invests in technology companies from early to growth stage.

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Lovisa Hedlund


METRO is a partner of many small and mid-sized independent companies. Their success is our focus. We have made it our goal to lift the food and hospitality sector to a new level and to take advantage of the unique opportunity that the comprehensive digitisation of the industry presents – both for our customers, who can transform their business for long-term prosperity, and for us. By accompanying them on this path, we can foster customer loyalty and tap additional economic potential. Our vision: to deliver sustainable solutions with superior added economic value for independent entrepreneurs.

As a platform, we are working jointly with diverse market players to set tomorrow’s standards: for absolute customer focus, practice-oriented digital solutions and sustainable business models. Digitalization is a top priority for our company and we could offer interesting career opportunities.

For more information about internship, traineeship, working students and entry positions, please check our job board.

For the 3rd time, METRO presented a representative study in 2019 and as part of the “Own Business Day” that reflects the mood among small and medium-sized owner-managed companies in Germany and 9 other countries. The representative METRO study shows how important own businesses are and confirms entrepreneurial spirit. METRO supports independent businesses and their founders with the “Own Business Day” and offers them a platform for gaining greater visibility.

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News from Metro

Olaf Koch is in a podcast with Alexander Graf via kassenzone. They speak about how METRO works, what the benefits of online trading are and what role digital tools play. They also give an outlook on the future of wholesalers.

Listen to the podcast here

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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


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.

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Get in touch

Gerrit McGowan

Managing Director

+49 (0)172 3177061

How to find us:

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Burgplatz 2
56179 Vallendar