School:Technische Universität München

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Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is known as the entrepreneurial university in Germany with a focus on excellent research, teaching, interdisciplinary education and the active promotion of students.
The TUM provides a wide range of innovative courses and lectures such as “Principles of Entrepreneurship” and “Leadership by motivation” to promote collegiate access to entrepreneurial spirit. Although those events are organized by different faculties, all students are allowed to be part of it.
There are also extracurricular events which are organized by the university itself such as Hackathons, Makeathons, Design sprints, Science hack, etc.

The TUM has founded a scholarship program called “Junge Akademie” [Young Academy] as an extracurricular possibility for motivated students.

With the UnternehmerTUM the Technical University of Munich has its own Center for Innovation and Business Creation. The UnternehmerTUM offers an entrepreneurship scholarship called “Manage&More” to actively support 20 committed students each term faced with challenges from economy and industry.
Moreover the UnternehmerTUM provides a free start-up consulting with fully-founded advice and active practical assistance in all major fields.

The Technical University of Munich grants students a two-term study break to realize their own entrepreneurial vision and even supports applications for external start-up grants like EXIST (a support programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for university-based business start-ups).

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

The Technical University of Munich is subdivided into 15 different faculties. The university encourages the individual faculties to promote innovation in their own specific way. Therefore the TUM installed one “Gründungsbotschafter” [entrepreneurship ambassador] in each faculty who shall sensitize and motivate students and scientists and share important information about entrepreneurship.

The faculties are interconnected through different interdisciplinary institutions such as the Munich Center for Technology in Society, the Center for Digital Technology and Management and the UnternehmerTUM. Those institutions offer numerous events, courses and programs for all students at TUM. An example is the IdeAward where students and scientists may get up to 15.000€ for their university-based start-up.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

"Cooperation with industry stimulates the education and introduces the future specialists to technically relevant missions." 
– Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, President of the Technical University of Munich

The TUM has a specialized institution for technology transfer called the TUM Office for Research and Innovation (TUM ForTe). The TUM ForTe provides different services concerning patents and licenses e.g. personal consulting for investors, information on industrial property rights and the identification of patentable research results. In collaboration with Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH [Bavarian Patent Alliance] the TUM ForTe also provides filling of a patent application by TUM, financing, coordination and monitoring of the patenting process and commercialization of the invention.

With TUMentrepreneurship TUM ForTe supports the student’s applications for public scholarships and sponsorships.

The technology transfer is strongly connected with third-party funds between TUM Entrepreneurship Research Institute and different parts of industry.

Facilitating university-industry collaboration

The Technical University of Munich traditionally has a close relationship to industry. Therefore the university has installed framework contracts with important companies such as Audi, Siemens and BMW. In the process of collaboration the TUM Office for Research and Innovation (TUM ForTe) is the first point of contact and the central coordinating body for any form of cooperation between the business and research sectors, research funding support and technology transfer at TUM.
Nevertheless chairs and institutes in different faculties also independently get in touch with the industry and develop projects linked to courses. The TUM also allows industry to promote their own programs in the university, so that students may get in touch with the companies. In case the collaboration between students and industry deepens the TUM provides different sample contracts e.g. for internships, final thesis, etc.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

The Technical University of Munich focuses on four core technologies: Medical technology, clean tech, informatics and information and communication technology. Therefore the TUM is engaging with local, national and international development efforts and has partner universities and companies all over the world.
Especially in Germany the TUM accelerates economic development. Each year 70-80 TUM-based high-tech start-ups come into the market. All of the start-ups are high-tech companies and were accompanied from the idea to the final certification.

Strategic Priorities

Project #1 - MakeADay (by Jose)

MakeADay is a one-day-workshop for students from all study programs at TUM. Students get together and meet people from different disciplines to solve problems by coming up with ideas and building prototypes. This would serve as a “teaser trailer” to a larger spectrum of Design-Thinking-based courses already existing at TUM (Think.Make.Start., Design Thinking Lab, etc.). The idea is to expose students to I&E and allow them to try it in a non-binding setting, where they can have fun and meet other people. Given that TUM has different campuses spread around the city, an event of this kind could be hosted many times during the semester around all available campuses, so that no student gets left behind in the road to discover I&E. 

Next Steps

  1. Back to the lab: Refine the audience → Feedback from the test phase showed that people see a different added value depending on how much previous experience they have (People with prior I&E Knowledge were interested in taking part in this event and knew/had taken part in the ones existing at TUM already, Freshmen with no experience on the field focused on the benefit of getting to know more people)
  2. Define a Value Proposition and Purpose for the course regarding the target audience
  3. Plan activities according to the intended purpose (what is the target audience’s take home message)
  4. Pretotype of the event: Quick and dirty first event, low fidelity, low cost
  5. Set and measure indicators to check success of intended purpose
    1. If target not met: Back to the Lab
    2. If target met: Go for it (Plan a HD-Version of it)

Strategic Priorities

  1. Define target audience
  2. Define purpose
  3. Define activities 

Project #2 - PlayWithX (by Vincent)

PlayWithX is a regular meetup format for freshmen students at TUM. Students meet and play together with cool technology. This gives each of them the opportunity, to get to know new people from all faculties. At the same time they can be creative and learn basic electronics, programming and other tech skills. No prior skills are required.

Next Steps

  1. Do more interviews to sharpen the value proposition.
    Why? We learned that the social aspect is the most important for freshmen. Maybe other, less technical forms of play are more important to them
  2. Answering funding questions: How could this be held regularly? How much would it cost?
  3. Testing with an actual first meetup

Strategic Priorities

Sharpen value proposition
Gaining more understanding of value proposition freshmen are looking for (since it changed after the interviews)

Ressource planning
Estimating required ressources (instructors? tools & materials, rooms, marketing & exposure) & figuring out where to get them from.

Real prototype meetup
To get a grasp on whether or not this works in real life.

Designing a recurrent model
How frequently should this happen? Only in winter semesters when there are freshmen? Who will manage these meetups?

Acquiring responsible party and necessary funds for recurrent model
Who will manage this in the long run? Will it be future UIF teams? Who will pay for material?

Project #3 - P2PTUM (by Tushaar)

P2PTUM is a Peer-to-Peer learning platform focused on sharing practical technical skills. Here students who have extensive knowledge in a specific practical technical field (e.g. Python programming for NLP or rapid prototyping in CAD with 3D printers) share their knowledge with a group of students either in in person workshops or an online course.

Next Steps

  • Share link with tracking in order to receive tracking to quantitatively measure response
  • Survey students about their interest in taking and owning workshops
  • check with administration if courses can be integrated into curriculum across faculty

Strategic Priorities

  1. Find strategic partner companies: Microsoft, Google, Amazon… all these companies could be interesting partners for the P2P platform for providing content, resources and financial support
  2. Integrate into existing processes: How can we integrate into existing learning infrastructure (Moodle)? How can we get ECTS (credits) for students particiapting and teaching? 
  3. Define roll out roadmap: Who has to be involved when?

Project #4 - TUM-ucation (by Dennis)

TUMucation is a user-friendly strategic online database of open TUM courses and programs that offers an intuitive choice suitable for the students. The website should also provide livestreams of accessible e-lectures and recommendations of certain events.

Next Steps

  1. Investigation of technical requirements and regulations concerning university.
  2. Collecting data of open TUM courses and programs. Interconnecting with faculties and institutions to include as much data as possible. 
  3. Design a functional TUM-intern webpage based on the database generated in step 2. 
  4. Run beta test with students and stakeholders. 
  5. Implementation of minor improvements and finishing of the product.

Strategic Priorities

  1. Simple - It should not be complicated to find interesting courses. 
  2. Interdisciplinary - Open courses should be visited by everyone who is interested in it. 
  3. Inspiring - Have the courage to try something new, that is the only way to discover hidden interests. 
  4. Connecting people - By visiting different courses you have the chance to get to know new people and also learn from them. 

Project #5 - TUM Idea Days (by Srdjan)

TUM needs a non committal, broadly accessible and student-friendly exposure to I&E

One of the problems we discovered in our Canvas was the lack of unbinding exposure of the opportunities and resources our university offers on the field of I&E. While the TUM already has a great pool of resources, exposure is improvable. The TUM Idea Days offer a possibility for students and school kids to explore I&E at TUM in an unbinding fashion and the TUM to make their resources more accessible.

TUM Idea Days
  • The fair has events for every step of the I&E categories (Discover, Learn, Experiment, Pursue, Spin-Out)
  • What is the goal? Exite schoolkids and students to discover their own innovative and entrepreneurial mindset!
  • What is the focus? Discover, Learn and Experiment 
  • Who is the target audience? Everyone! The fair is for school-kids and their parents, freshman and seniors students
  • What else? Food, Drinks and a beer garden. Live Music by students, big acts in the evening

Next Steps

  1. Present Concept to the TUM Taskforce: Bring the stakeholders of I&E together and present the concept
  2. Call the Avengers: Bring together the team, who will organise the event.
  3. Adjust the Concept: Iterate the concept, promote the preliminary event. Get reliable number of expected visitors. Involve students wishes concerning content.
  4. Start Looking:
    1. Lecturers for the Presentations
    2. Startups for the Workshops
    3. Bands and DJs for the Music
    4. Food and Drinks
  5. Promotion: Promote the event on social media, TUM Newsletters, mouth propaganda
  6. Hold the Event: “Presenting: First TUM Idea Days”
  7. Reflect & Iterate

Strategic Priorities

  1. Quality content → You only get one shot for the first impression
  2. Make it accessible for everyone: Everyone visiting should find something interesting.
  3. Involve the Students: What content do they want? Where are the biggest gaps? What did we miss?
  4. Stay in touch with the Stakeholders at TUM: Periodical updates on the progress

University Innovation Fellows

Vincent Jeltsch 

Dennis Pötter 

Srdjan Dragovic 

Tushaar bhatt 

Jose Pabon Andrade