Leuphana Startup June: ‘From ecofreak to ecopreneur’ conference on 27 and 28 June 2024

2024-05-31 The open conference offers young people a platform to present their start-up ideas at a gallery walk, listen to lectures, and participate in an excursion to Utopia Lüneburg. Prof Dr Jacob Hörisch, Professor of Sustainability Economics and Management, explains the background to the DBU-funded (German federal environmental foundation) research project.

 ‘We want our students to realise this: ‘Someone who has studied something similar to me has successfully founded a company. I can do that, too!’ says Prof Dr Jacob Hörisch. ©Leuphana/Patrizia Jäger
‘We want our students to realise this: ‘Someone who has studied something similar to me has successfully founded a company. I can do that, too!’ says Prof Dr Jacob Hörisch.
Professor Hörisch, why do you support ecopreneurship?
There are people who know a lot about environmental problems and know ways to solve them, but would never think of founding a company. With this project, we want to leverage untapped entrepreneurial potential. The social significance of ecopreneurship arises, among other things, from the fact that newly founded, environmentally orientated companies create a better, demand-oriented offer for customers while putting established competitors under pressure with this offer, as the expectations of consumers and legislation increase. Overall, however, we have a broad understanding of entrepreneurship: for us, this also includes associations and initiatives.
How do you unlock this entrepreneurial potential?
‘From ecofreak to ecopreneur’ is part of the curriculum at Leuphana - we teach classes in environmental sciences, sustainability sciences and in the responsibility module of the Leuphana Semester. There alone, we are able to address over 1000 first-semester students with our idea. In our seminars and lectures, students learn the basics of setting up a business: How do I develop a business model? How do I make it economically viable? How do I come up with a start-up idea? This is a good opportunity for our students to get into action and work in a solution-orientated way. However, our interventions are not limited to Leuphana; we also reach out to environmental protection organisations, for example, as we also see entrepreneurial potential there.
Why do people who are committed to the environment often don't start a company?
There are mental barriers: Entrepreneurship is sometimes seen as harmful to the environment. We therefore work with role models, organise excursions to sustainable companies, for example, or host founders who are close to the students, such as Leuphana alumnus and Lemonaid Beverages GmbH founder Paul Bethke, or Luca Windolph, who is studying for an MBA in Sustainability Management at the Professional School. She is the founder of the solidarity coffee start-up ‘Sol Nocturno Coffee’. We want our students to realise this: ‘Someone who has studied something similar to me has successfully founded a company. I can do that too!’
You analyse the interventions scientifically. What does the data show?
The effect of the interventions is measured at the beginning and end of each course. We look at how the participants' skills and environmental orientation change. The results are surprisingly positive. We can strongly influence intentions and competences with our teaching formats. Initially, I feared that the extent of environmental orientation might even decrease if the focus is on entrepreneurship. But our data shows the opposite.
Thank you very much for the interview!

‘From Ecofreak to Ecopreneur’ is part of the Leuphana Startup June. You can find more information about the conference here.

contakt

  • Prof. Dr. Jacob Hörisch