The University of Oldenburg will continue to receive funding as an Exist-Entrepreneur University from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). A regional start-up network will help to expand the entrepreneurial support scheme.
The University will receive funding from the “regional networking” line of funding of the EXIST-Potentials programme, which aims at developing entrepreneurial networks. From May 2020, the University will be able to continue and expand its already highly successful start-up support programme for another four years. The goal is to establish a “Start-Up Region Northwest” that extends beyond Germany’s borders to the Netherlands and South Africa. The strategy will focus on the growth areas of health and digitalisation. The Oldenburg OFFIS - Institute for Information Technology is the University’s partner in the project.
„The University of Oldenburg is ranked number one in the nationwide “Gründungsradar” ranking list, ahead of all the other medium-sized universities. The new funding approval spurs us on to consolidate this leading position – with the Founding and Innovation Centre (GIZ) as the central contact point for young entrepreneurs. We are delighted that the entire region will now benefit from this expertise,” said Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans Michael Piper, President of the University of Oldenburg.
A border-crossing start-up region
The University’s goal is to establish a transnational “Start-up Region Northwest” network together with partners from academia and industry. Within this framework, cooperation with the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen – a long-standing strategic partner of the University of Oldenburg – and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, which has also been awarded as an entrepreneurial university, will be strengthened and expanded. The University also hopes to gain new impetus through intensified cooperation with the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The long-term goal is to establish the network as a permanent instrument for promoting university-based start-ups in the region in close collaboration. “In this way we aim to create the foundation for tapping the Northwest’s knowledge and technology-based start-up potential as fully as possible,” stressed Miriam Wiediger, director of the GIZ.
Focus on healthcare and digitalisation
In the new project phase the focus will be on start-ups in the areas of healthcare and digitalisation – both of which will play a key role at the University over the next ten years. A number of start-ups have already been launched in the area of digitalisation, but not all of them have been developed to the stage where they can secure financing or are ready for the market. With OFFIS’s support, this is to change. There is also great potential for innovative start-ups in the field of medicine – for example in the areas of medical technologies, assistive technologies, medicine-based services or digitalised medicine.
Background information: The University of Oldenburg was awarded the title of EXIST-Entrepreneur University by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy in 2011, and was also successful in the follow-up programme in 2014. Thanks to these awards and the corresponding funding, the University was able to set up the GIZ as a central unit for promoting startups, and – together with the City of Oldenburg and the Jade University of Applied Sciences – establish it as a permanent institution. The Gertrud- und Hellmut Barthel Stiftung also acted as a sponsor. The University is now seen as “one of the top addresses in entrepreneurial support”, as the nationwide “Gründungsradar” compiled by the Stifterverband and the Heinz-Nixdorf Foundation affirmed in 2018. The University of Oldenburg occupied first place on this ranking list in the medium-sized universities category.
Since its inauguration in 2012, the GIZ has helped 25 teams to secure EXIST funding and raised more than 4.5 million euros in grants. So far, a total of 58 knowledge and technology-based companies have been launched – many of which have received prestigious awards.