Today less than 30% of young Europeans think about studying entrepreneurship. However, given the means and the motivation young people jump at the chance to start out on what can be a great adventure. In this edition of Business Planet we visit Munich to see how one university is helping budding entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality.
Motius is a young R&D company that works with the biggest German car makers. It was created just two years ago by five young people, including three engineering students from the Technical University of Munich. The start-up was set up with entrepreneurial support from the university.
“First of all, it was an opportunity to meet people who have similar interests to me,” explains Zièd Bahrouni the CEO of Motius.
“The second thing was the methodology and consultancy support they gave us, after I had the idea. And the third thing, which was important for me, was the personal coaching we got from them.”
Now Motius is a flourishing SME with, for example, an office in Muscat in Oman serving as a hub for the entire Gulf region. The number of full time staff has grown from 5 to 10. But more importantly Zied and his colleagues have created a pool of more than 200 collaborators who they work with when there is enough demand from customers.
“The goal we had in mind with this pool was to build a multi- disciplinary and dynamic group,” says Zied.
“That’s why it’s mostly students and young researchers and graduates. And the second thing we achieved in doing that was responsiveness to market trends and new research, state of the art research. With that we achieved maximum innovation for our customers.”
The Munich Technical University set up a kind of eco-system that nurtured both enterprise creation and innovation. So how does it work?
Supporting student start-ups from concept to product-launch on the market is the idea behind the UnternehmerTUM unit of the Munich Technical University.
It runs programmes of entrepreneurship orientation, providing everything needed to conceive and develop prototypes and also, crucially, to find financial sources, as its CEO Helmut Schönenberger explains: “We connect our start-ups with venture capital sources and business angels, and with financing opportunities from European funds. “We can also invest from our own venture capital fund that’s grown to 25 million euros.”
The results from the beginning of the project in 2002 have been impressive – 380 businesses and more than 11,000 jobs have been created.
“Munich is a high-tech cluster, with businesses like BMW, Siemens and Airbus,” says Schönenberger.
“Thanks to our extensive network we can put our start-ups in contact with these kinds of companies.”
So what are the keys to succeeding as an entrepreneur?
“For us, the team is the key to success,” says Zièd Bahrouni.
“We don’t build a product, we don’t have an IP (intellectual property), we only have a business model and services. Without the team, we have nothing.”