KIT Gründerschmiede

Founders Forge

Welcome to the website of the KIT Founders Forge – a project that aims to support founders at KIT. Together we want to develop the KIT to a forge for founders and a leading innovator for future companies.

The KIT Founders Forge

Since April 2013, new measures for founder support have been introduced at KIT on the basis of existing institutions under the project "KIT Founders Forge." The KIT Founders Forge offers students and KIT employees the opportunity to deal with the topics of founding and entrepreneurship.

The project is coordinated jointly by Prof. Dr. Orestis Terzidis and Dr. Jens Fahrenberg. The KIT Founders Forge was ignited ceremoniously at the big kick-off on June 21st, 2013.

On the basis of activities that were already built up over the past years, new measures are built and offered at the KIT Founders Forge in different areas of the founder promotion. These include new teaching and advanced education formats, an improved consultation offering, and a KIT financing platform for young startup projects. By providing support, new founders are prepared for a career as an entrepreneur. Startups from students and high-tech startups from the scientific field are both funded.

Appropriate to the target group, not only students and KIT employees are to be acquainted with the topic of founding and accompanied during the startup process. Additionally, the KIT Founders Forge functions as an access to the Karlsruhe startup network. Through cooperation and networking events, there is active dialogue with the regional founder scene.

Opinions on the Startup Environment at KIT

Prof. Dr. Holger Hanselka, President of KIT

"The promotion through the BMWi is a big success for KIT. It confirms our strategy of expanding support for founders and thus continues to strengthen the culture of entrepreneurial independence at KIT. KIT not only bears responsibility for research and teaching but also for the transfer of knowledge to the market. With sustainably successful startups, we can reach this goal."

Prof. Dr. Orestis Terzidis, Leader of the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Technology Management, and Innovation and Project Coordinator of the Founders Forge

"KIT is among the most outstanding scientific institutions of Europe. This leads to big opportunities for the businesses of the future. We want to continue developing KIT into a Founders Forge, so that young entrepreneurs can lead their startups to success."

Dr.-Ing. Jens Fahrenberg, Leader of the KIT Service Unit Innovation and Relations Management and Project Coordinator of the Founders Forge

"With the combination of research and university, KIT has all components for a Founders Forge. Now, we have to activate the potentials: Good ideas belong on the market, not in a drawer."

Matthias Hornberger, Chairman CyberForum e.V.

"With KIT as a Founders Forge, the knowledge, creativity, and energy of more than 9,000 employees and 25,000 students are transformed into innovations and jobs. Together with the local networks and a strong economic environment, KIT has the perfect ecosystem for the startup of technology-based businesses."

Matthias Geis, Member of the Pioniergarage e.V.

"As a university group for entrepreneurship, we want to get Karlsruhe students excited about entrepreneurship. The KIT Founders Forge is the right approach in order to make Karlsruhe an even more attractive startup location."

Fabian Metzeler, Founder and CEO, volatiles

"The KIT Founders Forge creates the right environment for startup promotion at KIT. Through upCAT, we were able to refine our business strategy and build up a valuable network that still supports us almost weekly."

Daniel Eberts, Member of Enactus KIT

"We at Enactus KIT deal with social entrepreneurship. In doing this, KIT offers the best environment for students to realize their innovative, pragmatic, and long-term ideas for a positive change in society."

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) as a founders' university

In April 2010, the competition "EXIST-Gründungskultur – Die Gründerhochschule" of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) started with a total of 83 universities. The goal of the promotional program EXIST is to establish a startup culture and strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit at universities and non-university research faculties in Germany. Through intensive startup promotion, it aims to increase the number of technology-oriented and knowledge-based business startups.

In the first round of the competition, applicants were measured according to their idea drafts. The remaining 24 universities then competed with each other again with a detailed strategy concept for startup profiling. On the basis of the submitted concepts, 12 universities were finally chosen for funding on January 9th, 2013.

In developing the KIT concept, a team of professors, scientific employees, students, entrepreneurs from the region, and partner networks worked together to create an action plan.

This action plan was successful – the KIT asserted itself in the final round of the "EXIST-Gründungskultur" competition and was chosen for funding of the first project phase. For its university-wide concept for expansion of the startup culture, KIT will receive about three million euros in funding between 2013 and 2016. The grant of the EXIST-IV funding opens many doors for KIT to evolve and establish itself as a "founders' uni."