Closely linked to this mandate is the acquisition of the so-called EXIST funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, which the University was one of the few humanities universities to succeed in obtaining at the beginning of the year. Within this framework, the University of Erfurt will receive 775,000 euros from the federal government up to 2024 in order to sustainably improve the framework conditions for start-ups and knowledge-based spin-offs from the university. "Our particular focus is on the area of social entrepreneurship," emphasizes Heike Grimm. "It is not just a matter of generating income and making a profit with a new or spin-off company, but rather it is a matter of an associated mission for society as a whole. We are thinking about which values are particularly important to us and how we can promote sustainable development through social entrepreneurial performance". According to Grimm, the University of Erfurt has a special potential not in spite of, but precisely because of its humanities orientation. "We have been working here for a long time on topics that sometimes did not receive adequate attention, but which have now increasingly come into focus with the corona pandemic. I am thinking, for example, of health, education and digitisation. And at our university we work in an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, inter- and transcultural way, across borders, so to speak. That is outstanding."
In view of the range of topics covered by the University of Erfurt and the way it works, it is therefore a different understanding of entrepreneurship for start-ups from within the university than at other universities. This is because spin-offs by students and graduates should neither be purely profit-oriented nor purely philanthropic, but rather take a middle course by bringing a profit for the entrepreneur on the one hand, but at the same time achieving a sustainable mission and making a contribution to society. "We have already done a lot in the past to support students interested in starting their own business and to accompany them in this process: We offer seminars at the Willy Brandt School, for example, and have already been able to promote some impressive start-ups there. In addition, we have created offers for students within the the Studium Fundamentale programme and launched the Start-up Idea Competition," says Grimm. And: The interest among the students is high. Now, with the establishment of a Social Entrepreneurship Campus, we need to create even more opportunities, initiate more projects and take as many interested people as possible to the campus. "This has been my vision for the University of Erfurt for many years. I am pleased that this vision can now take off with the EXIST programme and my appointment as the Officer for Start-up Issus and Entrepreneurship".