Success in the Competition for Entrepreneurial Culture

1.2 million in funding for three years - further development of entrepreneurial culture

Leuphana University of Lüneburg’s successful efforts in research, instruction and practice within the field of entrepreneurship has paid off.  On January 9, in the finale of the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology’s competition “EXIST-Entrepreneurial Culture—The Start-Up Universities,” Federal Minister Dr. Philip Rösler recognized the university as one of the best German start-up universities.  Along with this distinction comes financial support for the coming three years of up to 1.2 million Euros.  A total of 27 universities had qualified for this competition, the jury selected 12 of them as deserving of financial support.  Leuphana joins the ranks of leading technical universities such as RWTH Aachen and the TU Harburg, which also received this distinction.  Leuphana came out on top with its project, “Leuphana 2020—a university for entrepreneurship.”  

The goal of Leuphana’s project is to develop the university’s start-up and corporate culture using a broadly defined understanding of entrepreneurship.  To achieve this goal, the activities in different fields will be bundled together within an “Entrepreneurship-Venture-Agency—EVA.”  Among its different responsibilities, the new organization should provide new impulses for course offerings, continuing education and research projects based on current trends in business and society.  Six new research positions will be financed with the Federal support.  University President Sascha Spoun was very pleased with Leuphana’s success:  “Our university understands entrepreneurship in broad terms.  Our goal is to actively confront societal challenges, to impart problem solving skills, and to bring about positive transformations.  With these new financial resources, we can expand our activities in this area systematically.”    

Leuphana offers fertile ground for this project: in contrast to other universities, Leuphana has extra-ordinarily wide-ranging entrepreneurial opportunities at its disposal.  It is in fact one of the very few universities in Germany that already has three professorial chairs in this field.  Three guest professors, as well as other professorial chairs and institutes, are also engaged with questions of entrepreneurship.  In the rankings of the start-up friendliest universities in Germany, Leuphana took first place overall in 2005 and fourth place in 2011, while in 2007 it was ranked first in the area of instruction.  In the most recent rankings of German-language universities’ accomplishments in the field of entrepreneurship-research, Leuphana was positioned in fourth place.    

In the past year, 1,800 new students at Leuphana started their first semester with a major start-up competition: for five days they developed innovative new business ideas in the fields of sustainability, social entrepreneurship, digital media, and service industries. Leuphana’s new orientation, its develop of entrepreneurial course offerings as well as its regional development project, the Innovation Incubator Lüneburg, which has received massive support from EU, are important steps on the path toward a university that widely transmits practical knowledge.  Already the university’s regional economic importance for start-ups is considerable: in just the last five years over 500 teams and potential start-ups were advised by the university.  This resulted in about 130 actual start-ups, mostly in the service sector.  The Innovation-Incubator has now also produced the first highly innovative firms, such as the INOCAS GmbH company which produces sustainable biokerosene or explainity UG in the field of new media.