The Univations Investforum Pitch-Day 2017 took place recently in Halle at the ERDGAS Sportpark, with the attendance of 26 start-ups who successfully pitched their business models to 70 investors.

In the past, start-ups were able to convince venture capital funds and business angels to invest sums ranging from 100.000 to 5 Million Euro into their business ideas. Now, however, for entrepreneurs who look for start-up capital the market can be rather competitive, for there are a lot more creative ideas and and investors have to spend a lot more time to assess success factors before they put money into new opportunities. Investforum Pitch-Day 2017 was marked as one of the platforms where competitive minds and investors with questions are brought together for an exiting marathon.

The event mainly focuses on companies that are still in the seed or early start-up phase – a typical period where innovative companies in Germany have problems to raise capital. As such, Investforum has become one of the main matching events for innovative start-ups in the new German States during the past years.

Daniel Worch, CEO of Univations and as such responsible for the event, took the chance to present the Erasmus+ project Embedding Entrepreneurship Education to the participating guests. Due to the presence of high-quality start-ups, the event naturally has not only attracted investors, but also start-up coaches as well as trainers involved in entrepreneurial education from all over Germany – target group of the intellectual resources developed within EEE.

Univations successfully pilot-tested one of the EEE Entrepreneurship Teaching Toolkit course modules, the business model canvas during the Entrepreneurship Summer School “Geist 21”. Organised by the ThermHex Waben GmbH, one of the leading lightweight composition material producers in Halle, the event Geist 21 hosted a large number of participants from diverse backgrounds, e.g. engineering, business studies, design, and IT who has interest in new materials and the desire to found an enterprise. The international nature of the program has attracted an enthusiastic audience from across the world, including India, Iran, and Egypt.

Concerning further exploitation of the Entrepreneurship Teaching Toolkit, the collaboration continues with Martin-Luther-University (MLU) for the piloting off the EEE teaching modules. In fact, the EEE regional alliance Halle now focuses on the start of the winter term in Saxony-Anhalt in which EEE resources might be integrated into regular teaching activities as well as into the program of the upcoming Entrepreneurship week from 13.11.-17.11.2017. The University staff have already signalled their will to use resources of the EEE Teaching Toolkit, and by this support to further support the entrepreneurship promotion campaign of EEE that will be launched at the beginning of the next year.

Furthermore, the EEE team Halle upholds its efforts to enlarge the regional alliance for entrepreneurship education in Saxony-Anhalt. Florian Bratzke, European Project Officer at Univations GmbH, met with officials from the University of Applied Sciences Merseburg in September to introduce EEE objectives as well as to discuss possible ways of involvement in the regional alliance. Furthermore, Mr. Bratzke took chance to discuss the content and structure of the EEE Teaching Toolkit with the present HEI teaching staff as well as the idea of a state-wide entrepreneurship summer camp. In fact, Dr. Henn – Head of start-up service – explicitly pronounced her interest to further deepen the cooperation with EEE team of Univations to foster entrepreneurial aspiration of students and to better equip HEI staff with high-quality resources to facilitate their efforts in entrepreneurial teaching.

Officials from University of Applied Sciences Merseburg have agreed to check possible ways to support the piloting of EEE resources by integrating them into the entrepreneurial teaching activities of the start-up service in the upcoming winter term.

5 teams, 26 students and 10 mentors started to work on project ideas that aim to enhance higher entrepreneurial endeavours in the region. The EEE course was promoted at 12 faculties at the University of Szeged and receiving a positive response from several media. After the application there were a small drop-out, but the most enthusiastic students stayed to create entrepreneurial value.

In previous months, students had to submit a motivational letter – including their motivations and project ideas if they already had – in order to apply for the course. Finally, the applicants were grouped into 5 teams, then the project ideas were selected and presented by the students in the middle of September.

There are more developed project concepts and less developed ideas as well, thus some of the matured projects have the possibility to reach market introduction within 1 year. These projects are briefly summarised below:

Craft beer producer

One of the team members produces craft beer in a regular basis, but in a small amount. His idea is to establish a craft beer brand that suits the need of young people and will fulfill a market niche –quality craft beer at an affordable price. They will prepare a plan for the budget because in the first step the producer has to invest to equipment, then they will work on how to position this local craft beer on the market.

In-house restaurant

The main concept is to combine the advantages of preparing food at home and the benefits of eating in a restaurant. The team wants to open a restaurant in a flat that will host closed gastro events for those who wants to invite friends and/or relatives for special occasions. The team believes that, people do not like to clean their apartments after an event, thus they rather go to a „kitchen flat” where they just have to prepare food but do not have to wash the dishes after the event or spend time on buying the ingredients for the dinner.

PriceMind

The team is working on a marketing service that could yield significant statistical insights for companies into their competitors’ prices. The software monitors the prices in the competitors’ webshops and collects these data into tables and figures. This information could help to making better pricing decisions.

PubSearcher

This peer-to-peer smart phone application is entitled to collect all information – regarding reviews, promotions, opening hours, etc. – relating to pubs in a local area. The goal is to help people to make decisions when they are planning their Friday or Saturday nights. The business model will provide revenues for the developers from the pubs’ financial contributions.

Donations for homeless-animals

The goal of this social entrepreneurship project is to help stray animals to find a new home and to find pet friendly people in order to gain financial resource for animal shelters. The smart phone application and/or website would help non-business organizations to reach higher audiences in the country, furthermore it lets people to adopt animals virtually and contribute to their living costs. The team hopes that this online tool will decrease the number of stray animals on the streets and can mediate in a higher efficiency between orphaned animals and pet friendly people.

EEE partnership and La Trobe University of Melbourne, Australia have signed a MoU to collaborate in the field of entrepreneurship education.

The EEE consortium has been contacted by Dr. Silvia McCormack of La Trobe University in May 2017 leading to first successful talks between representatives of either sides shortly afterwards. La Trobe University has recently introduced a rather progressive approach for the integration of entrepreneurship education among all its faculties. As a matter of fact, the components of innovation and entrepreneurship, global citizenship, and sustainability thinking, referred to as “Three Essentials”, have become part of regular course curriculum ever since then. [1]

In her function as Academic Coordinator (coursework) at the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, Dr McCormack was highly involved in the theoretical development as well as the operational implementation of this approach inside her institution. Given La Trobe`s leading role in the field of entrepreneurship education, the consortium unanimously agreed to propose an associate partnership within EEE. La Trobe officials have equally expressed their interest to exchange best-practice experiences and intellectual resources to foster entrepreneurial aspirations and efforts of students and staff in the involved HEIs.

While the formalization of the partnership was in progress, the EEE team of Management Center Innsbruck has had the pleasure to welcome Dr. McCormack from La Trobe University in Innsbruck already last month. Among others, the institutional approaches for entrepreneurship education pursued at La Trobe and MCU were discussed during this first fruitful meeting. Additionally, MCI officials presented Dr. McCormack the first draft of the EEE Teaching Toolkit – a bundle of high-quality teaching material on entrepreneurship addressing HEI lecturers. In the meantime, La Trobe and EEE officials have mutually signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement that will allow to further deepen ties between all stakeholders in the months ahead.

Mutual benefits

Given the obvious high potentials to positively contribute to the success of the project, the EEE consortium is strongly convinced of the mutual benefits that will result from the collaboration between EEE and La Trobe. In fact, both sides decided to intensify talks in the upcoming months to identify further areas of collaboration. Apart from jointly discussing and piloting EEE project outputs as well as exchange best-practices experiences, the collaboration with La Trobe University may as well be the impetus to initiate new projects in the field of entrepreneurship education involving all EEE partnering institutions soon.

[1] McCormack, S., Scanlon, C. (2017 in press). Integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into all undergraduate courses: The case of one university in Australia. In Nygard, C. (Ed), Teaching of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. Libri Publsihing, London.