School:Hamburg University of Technology

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Main Building, Hamburg University of Technology

Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

Hamburg University of Technology is a technical university in Germany that is educating future engineers. On top of its engineering degrees it also offers degrees focused on management sciences. These are exclusively master/graduate programs. Half of them are aiming at shaping industrial engineers (M.Sc. International Management and Engineering, M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering & Management, M.Sc. International Production Management). The remaining programs focus on Innovation & Technology Management (M.Sc. Global Innovation Management, (Part-Time) MBA Technology Management). Only one program is specifically tailored to develop entrepreneurial skills and attitude (M.Sc. Global Technology and Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship (GTIME)). TUHH also offers cooperative degree programs (dual@TUHH), in which students work for a company alongside their studies.

In different modules of several studies (post- and undergraduate) the topic of I&E is promoted. This happens through the eyes of strategic management as well as in any engineering courses which includes cutting edge technology. Moreover there are courses, which focus exclusively on the topics of I&E and encourage a hands-on mentality, where students are motivated to develop their own innovative ideas and show how their ideas could become reality. The modules related to I&E are mostly taught by three institutes: the Institute of Entrepreneurship, the Institute of Technology and Innovation Management and the Institute of Innovation Marketing. These institutes also center the I&E research efforts in addition to the Center for Frugal Innovation.

An important anchor point in the I&E ecosystem of Hamburg is the Startup Dock empowered by the TUHH, which is now in a transforming process to a Hamburg wide joint project "StartUp Port (at TUHH)". It provides specific courses aimed at shaping the skills and mindset of nascent entrepreneurs, pitch events and consulting services for founders during their start-up process. It also hosts events and talks, where students can get inspired. Tutech Innovation GmbH is an institution TUHH is closely cooperating with and offers services similar to the ones of Startup Dock. These two facilities are located next to each other and accommodate most of the educational offerings of the Institute of Entrepreneurship. All three together form the Center for Entrepreneurship at TUHH. A new innovation facility which further promotes the establishment of a vivid start-up scene in the vicinity of TUHH is currently being built (Hamburg Innovation Port).

Further support is given through the FabLab@TUHH. A place of joint creative work, which is intended to unite many interest groups around the TUHH to support creativity in new technologies of digital product development and generative manufacturing. Various workshops by University associations as e.g. the Career Center allow students to prepare themselves professionally and also to use professional facilities to prototype and bring their ideas to life.

Inspired students can also take part in various extracurricular clubs to work together in Teams on innovative ideas. Especially known is our award-winning working group e-gnition, which develops an electric race car and takes part in the Formula Student. Other student groups are also working on projects like small robots which play soccer (HULKs - RobotING), fully automated cocktail machines (Advanced Cocktail Engineering) and many more. A newly founded student club, which arose from the UIF-cohort 20/21 is the "Ideenschmiede Hamburg". It offers students opportunities to network outside of the curriculum and learn from the experiences of others in the field of innovation & entrepreneurship. In this way, they deal with important questions regarding personal development and later career choices. They learn to solve real problems with practical methods. We think entrepreneurially and thus consider our own ideas in the light of a potential business start-up.

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

The faculty at TU Hamburg is encouraged through multiple collaborations with innovative companies in Hamburg. One way this unfolds is that a lot of PhD candidates write their theses in cooperation with a company to have a direct impact on the economy and the university lectures will then be enriched by the research.

Furthermore, faculty members can work on projects at the Start Up Port and possibly create their own start-ups. Also, they are welcome to further educate themselves on I&E related topics in the workshops provided by the Startup Port, Tutech Innovation GmbH and Northern Institute of Technology Management (NiT). However, it is rather unlikely that a lot of faculty members attend courses at NiT, since these are focused at upskilling employees of established companies.

Some collaborations are also with research facilities as well, may that often be fundamental research. These include the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This might not create a start up at first, but it opens the university to a greater spectrum of technical possibilities that will spark conversations and collaboration at the university itself. Thereby research efforts are primarily focused on the objectives pursued by the following research centers:

Furthermore, the I3 Program is fostering the collaboration between different scientific fields. Interdisciplinary oriented projects including scientists of TU get funded. 

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

Students that have established a concept find help in extra consultancy. These consultants help the new becoming entrepreneurs to develop a solid business model. An incentive is that the government of Germany offers a start-up scholarship for those students with the most promising concept, called EXIST Founder Scholarship. As already mentioned these services are provided by the two institutions Startup Port and Tutech Innovation Gmbh, which are separate entities but very closely cooperating with TUHH. Consequently, these are specifically designed to foster technology transfer from TUHH to local and global industry. In the future, Hamburg Innovation Port will be an additional means for enhanced technology transfer.

Furthermore, the Northern Institute of Technology Management is educating employees of established companies on the latest innovation and creativity practices, such as agile design methods.

Moreover, at the Technical University of Hamburg Professors of every department are open to questions and help regarding entrepreneurial endeavors.  

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

Through shared ownership of companies the university ensures that projects that started in the university can be translated in the private sector of Hamburg (Start Up Port, Tutech Innovation GmbH).

Moreover, companies are always engaging in projects which offers students a possibility to work on real-life challenges. One example is the project LOMIS in which an institute was working with Lufthansa Technik AG. The project delivered insights for Design Thinking in Open Innovation projects.

Lastly, most of university-industry collaboration is done at the research level. A prominent example in this case is the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research which connects the TUHH to two the biggest employers of the region, Airbus S.A.S. and Lufthansa Technik AG.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

The Center of Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) thus also displays TUHH's efforts to effectively cooperate with regional an local partners in order to stimulate economic development. The ZAL conducts research in different topics like: Drones, 3D-Printing and aircraft cabin systems that are designed in virtual reality.

Similarly, the Research Center for Martinime Systems and the Research Center for Logistics and Mobility for Sustainable Value Creation are characterized by a close cooperation to local companies located in the Hamburg's sea port. Since the industries related with the port are the main drivers of wealth for the region a prosperous collaboration is key here.

In addition there are several projects which are conducted with different local partners like DESY, who are focusing on research in fundamental physics. Further partners are the Fraunhofer Society and German Aerospace Centre DLR. Some institutes of TU have key roles concerning the innovation park of Harburg.


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