The third Networking Friday of the Innovation Incubation Center (i²c) took place in the Kuppelsaal of TU Wien on February 24th, 2017. More than 350 participants from academia and practice exchanged ideas about innovative product ideas, business start-ups and the role that the university should play in the digital transformation.
The TU Startup & Ideas Roadshow was an opportunity to present TU-projects or -startups to the interested guests. This year there was a wide range – Bachelor-, Master-, PhD- and research-results – exhibited to get an idea of the variety of excellent results generated on different levels. In addition, public (funding) institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Vienna Business Agency, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), aws, INiTS and StartupLeitner were invited to exhibit and to inform about their offer at the event.
The Innovation Incubation Center (i²c) offers students and scientists at TU Wien a comprehensive support in founding startups, which are based on turning pioneering research into attractive and profitable products. The support rests upon four central pillars.
Firstly, the i²c aims to "inspire" the scientists to start a company, which gives them the opportunity to accompany the practical implementation of their research results.
As engineers and scientists are often unfamiliar with the economic delicacies of companies and markets, a dedicated education program ("educate"), taught by renowned national and international lecturers, is designed to provide essential foundations for a successful start in entrepreneurship.
This also includes methods that support the systematic development of product innovations from research results ("innovate").
Finally, a successful company foundation also requires networking with stakeholders whose support is needed, such as investors or other company founders ("connect").
The Networking Friday serves above all this last aspect. Dr. Birgit Hofreiter, the director of the i²c, points to two central objectives of the event. On the one hand, it illustrates the great potential of research at TU Wien. This is not only about innovative products, but also about the contribution that a renowned technical university can make to the success of digital transformation. On the other hand, the Networking Friday is intended to bring together people who can contribute to the success of a company with different skills and resources.
The event started with a panel discussion in the morning. The question discussed was whether the university should actively promote the digital transformation of industry and society, or be restricted to the role of an observer. The international panelists from science, politics and industry agreed that the university as a cradle of scientific knowledge and innovation plays a vital role in the shaping of the transformation, but that the university still has to find its role in this process. In any case, initiatives such as those pursued by the TU Wien with the i²c are very important.
During the "Networking Lunch", 22 research groups from TUW had the opportunity to present current research results with a high potential for innovation.
The afternoon was devoted to a competition ("Pitch Challenge"), in which ten selected projects, which had previously passed through a three-day bootcamp - the i²c StartAcademy - got the opportunity to present to investors and a keynote speech by Dr. Tim Hart, University of Oxford, on the subject of scientific entrepreneurship. In the jury, the "Creme de la Creme" of the Austrian start-up investors and promoters (2Min2Mio investor Michael Altrichter, AAIA, Startup300, Speedinvest, PioneersVentures, GIN/goInternational, aws Gründerfonds, aws JumpStart) was represented.