The grant is part of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology‘s (BMWi) national initiative “EXIST Potentiale”, specifically addressing the pillar “Poteniale heben” (Unlock Potential) of the “EXIST Gründungskultur” (Exist Start-up Culture) program. “EXIST Potentiale” aims to foster technology and evidence-based start-up culture at universities across Germany. The project team of four, led by Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm (Aletta Haniel Professor for Public Policy and Entrepreneurship at the Willy Brandt School), delivered a convincing proposal for the establishment of a social and international “Gründercampus” (Campus Start-up Incubator) at the University of Erfurt. The proposed project aims to promote the entrepreneurial spirit of students and to further support ideas from international and interdisciplinary start-up teams.
Social entrepreneurship not only perfectly complements the reform university’s teaching and research profile, but it also builds on an existing tradition of innovative startup ideas from the university students. Previously successful start-up teams from the Willy Brandt School, such as MINTy Girls, Sharing Living or the app Amigo, provided essential motivation for the idea and the development of a social and international “Gründercampus” at the University of Erfurt. These projects were recipients of the Brandt School’s Commitment Award, which has been spearheaded by the "Engagementpreis-Stiftung" with support from the "Town and Country Stiftung" and the "W.P. Schmitz Stiftung" for over ten years now. Along with the "Haniel Stiftung" and the Aletta Haniel Professor for Public Policy and Entrepreneurship, the "Engagementpreis-Stiftung" is the driving force behind the establishment of entrepreneurship education and research at the University of Erfurt and the Brandt School. The intersection of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy is an especially innovative aspect of the teaching and research portfolio and is one of the unique selling points of the Brandt School’s MPP program.
Prof. Dr. Walter Bauer-Wabnegg, President of University of Erfurt, adds, “The timing for this grant couldn’t be better. We are keeping up with the zeitgeist of a generation that concerns itself with sustainable business practices, climate change, resource scarcity and other ecological and societal challenges and that wants to tackle these challenges head on.”
Beyond the University of Erfurt, the funding also strengthens the (social) startup network in Thuringia. The University of Erfurt will play a pivotal role in this process through the social and international “Gründercampus” project.