• Foyer at EINS with seating, Brain City Berlin

    Economical, ecological, social

At EINS in Berlin-Charlottenburg, the Technische Universität Berlin supports start-ups that meet global challenges sustainably in three ways. At the same time, with the coworking space, the TU Berlin is making visible to the outside world: Universities and colleges are now a key economic factor. And not just in Brain City Berlin.

“ENTREPRENEURSHIP, INNOVATION, NETWORKING, SUSTAINABILITY“ is written in capital letters in the event hall of “EINS” in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Here, on the ground floor of the listed building “Willy-Kreuer-Bau” at Ernst-Reuter-Platz 1, the Faculty of Mining and Metallurgy at the Technische Universität Berlin used to be at home. Today, technology transfer takes place at this location on an area of around 1,000 square metres – at the heart of the Charlottenburg campus and opposite the TU Berlin campus. As an acronym, the name “EINS” also refers to the content focus of the coworking space. “The aspect of sustainability is particularly important to us. This is where ideas are promoted to meet global challenges in line with the concept of 'High-Tech for Triple Impact',” says Lars Diedrich, Location manager of EINS and member of the Research and Technology Transfer department of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) at the TU Berlin, which manages and administers the innovation platform. “Triple Impact”, specifically means: Spin-offs that are launched here should have a threefold sustainable impact: economical, ecological and social. “With this, the university would like to set standards both throughout Germany and internationally as to what entrepreneurship can look like in the future.”

80 workstations and more than 100 events annually

EINS was opened in 2019 – financed in part with funds from the EXIST programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the European Social Fund. Although the TU Berlin already had spaces for start-up teams at the Centre for Entrepreneurship, in the Inkulab Container, in Ackerstrasse in Berlin-Mitte and in “start-up islands” in individual departments, it was EINS that significantly expanded the university’s capacities: 80 workstations are available for coworking here. There is a “makerspace” with 3D printers, a CNC milling machine and a laser cutter for producing prototypes, three workshop spaces and an event hall that can accommodate around 200 people. More than 100 events and workshops now take place here every year.

The spaces in EINS are at capacity. “Our start-ups currently come from different areas: Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, plant and energy management, renewable energies, production technology, chemistry and software development, to name just a few. Furthermore, a large number of student projects are currently working at EINS as well as various projects developed by female founders,” says Lars Diedrich. The start-ups supported in the coworking space and already successful on the market include 3YourMind, which has developed a digital manufacturing solution for on-demand production, and Augmented Robotics, which enables companies to bring their business models and products to life interactively using augmented reality or LiveEO, a company that offers environmentally friendly solutions for Earth observation.

The success of this founding team not only has a positive effect on the outside, but also radiates into the university. Established start-ups become role models for other academics and students who also want to set up their own business from the university. This is also part of the TU Berlin’s support concept, as Lars Diedrich explains: “Universities are an incredibly creative place where a variety of groundbreaking ideas are developed. However, this innovation potential is still not being utilised enough for areas outside science. This is exactly where we at the Centre for Entrepreneurship have been working for over 15 years: On the one hand, we sensitise university members to the possibilities of knowledge and technology transfer, and on the other, we offer a variety of support formats for students, academics and alumni who want to bring their scientific research to the market in the form of start-ups. We help with the reflection and further development of the start-up concepts and impart the necessary know-how.”

Multi-layered networking at the location

The Centre for Entrepreneurship also supports start-up teams in the acquisition of funding and follow-up financing in order to help them succeed and at the same time strengthen the economic strength of the capital region. This is all the more important as the number of start-ups has been declining nationwide for several years. According to a survey by the industry service Startupdetector, around 22 percent fewer start-ups were founded in Germany in 2022 than in 2021. In the start-up metropolis of Berlin, the number even fell by 30 per cent in the same period – from 772 to 540 companies. Even if crises and the associated uncertain economic situation can be cited as the cause of the current downward trend, it is still clearly visible. “The targeted promotion of start-ups by universities and colleges is helping to counteract this trend,” says Lars Diedrich. “They are therefore a key economic factor in their respective regions and their role is becoming increasingly important.”

Launching innovative ideas – that also means: To network researchers and start-ups with stakeholders from business, politics and civil society. Solutions to the challenges of the future can only be developed together. Thematic conferences are therefore held regularly at EINS. Further connections and synergies are created via the TU Berlin network. The cooperation partners of the Centre for Entrepreneurship include the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and Berlin Partner for Business and Technology. The neighbouring Charlottenburg Innovation Centre CHIC is also home to start-ups that were founded by TU Berlin. However, the most important association for the CfE and therefore also for Coworking Space EINS is “Science&Startups”: The aim of this merger of the start-up services of the Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the TU Berlin in cooperation with the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin: to establish Berlin as an attractive location for science-based start-ups internationally. 

The Brain City is the ideal location for this in many respects, as Diedrich confirms: “Berlin continues to be one of the central start-up hotspots in Germany. There is a wide range of programmes for start-ups and a density of excellent research institutions that is unique in Germany.” EINS offers the right infrastructure for this – with a threefold sustainable effect. (vdo)

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