The format "STARTPLAN - In eight weeks to a startup!" offers the ideal platform for open entrepreneurial cooperation between motivated students, attractive practice partners, internal research projects and successful founders from the region. Last Friday, at the second edition of the "HFT Startup Pitches", the STARTPLAN teams presented their development over the last eight weeks and faced an expert jury.
With the motto "Time to start up", the HFT start-up centre PLAN G pursues the conviction that everyone should deal with the topic of start-up at some point; especially under the current framework conditions and during the time of study. At the virtual closing event, the audience was able to be convinced by promising business models, ranging from a solution to accompany women on their way home at night to a comprehensive smart home solution. Special guest was the founder of CureVac, Dr. Ingmar Hoerr, who addressed the young founders with a captivating keynote.
3, 2, 1 - GO! Teams inspire jury and audience
In the digital startup pitches, the teams each had three minutes to present their business idea, after which they faced a top-class jury. All teams delivered an amazing level of performance and convinced the jury and the audience with their first prototypes, landing pages and pilot implementations. Three of the ten teams were awarded a prize. The jury prize was presented by HFT Rector Prof. Dr. Katja Rade.
Technological but also social innovations determine the competitiveness and thus also the resilience of our society. However, the ability to find innovative solutions and improve our world depends on creative and highly qualified people - in other words, precisely on you.
The jury prize was won by the team from EDV - Einfach. Digital. vor Ort. won the jury prize, the startup Green Invest was chosen by the audience and the team from Paketeer received the mentor prize for the greatest development during the last eight weeks. Exciting keynote speech by someone who knows what he is talking about
Following the pitches, Ingmar Hoerr gave an entertaining and authentic description of how, as a young doctoral student in Tübingen, he made a discovery with revolutionary potential: the messenger molecule mRNA can be used in many ways, including as an effective vaccine. The idea of exploiting this discovery in an entrepreneurial way quickly matured and the start-up company CureVac was founded. However, after initially nobody wanted to believe in a revolution and insolvency could only be averted with great difficulty, the young company succeeded in attracting investors such as Dietmar Hopp and Bill Gates. Today, CureVac is worth several billion US dollars and the mRNA technology provides the basis for many vaccines in the fight against covid-19. Hoerr openly and honestly took the budding entrepreneurs with him and told them about private and professional ups and downs on his start-up journey. For his discovery, Ingmar Hoerr has been nominated as a candidate for this year's Nobel Prize.
Networking is absolutely important. So talk to people, no matter where you are. And don't have in the back of your mind, I have to convince someone now, but try to be really open.
The exciting keynote was the best proof of how important the Founder Talk series, which is being held publicly for the first time this semester, and the associated direct contact with potential role models is. "These short weekly impulses from successful founders in the region serve as an additional source of motivation and inspiration for the teams and provide an authentic taste of real-life startup life. This is something the teams and HFT members can look forward to again next semester," explains startup coach Matthias Schöttler, who is responsible for the content and organization of the STARTPLAN format as program manager.
With a focus on the topic of cities, this STARTPLAN run, in the form of the "Future City Challenge", also saw close cooperation with partners from business and the public sector. The challenges from their practical experience served some teams as the starting point for their business ideas and make an important contribution to shaping the city of the future. In addition to EnBW and DEKRA DIGITAL, the programme was supported by the state capital Stuttgart and the HFT-internal project "iCity". The intensive cooperation offers great advantages for both sides. While the teams gain access to a network and experts, the companies and municipalities have the opportunity to work with young talents and obtain approaches to solving relevant problems.
Due to our transformation into an innovative infrastructure partner, the city of the future is a very central topic for us. Through our cooperation with the HFT and the 'Future City Challenge', we receive valuable impulses from science on precisely this topic and come into contact with inspiring founders and their innovative ideas at an early stage.