At the turn of the millennium, Helmut Schönenberger wrote his business administration thesis at the Technical University of Munich about Stanford University and its significance for the startup scene in Silicon Valley. He concluded by recommending that TUM establish a business incubator.
The university approached Susanne Klatten, whose investment enabled the start-up financing of UnternehmerTUM gGmbH. Flanked by further capital funds to support start-ups, etc., Europe’s largest start-up and innovation center was created. This is the subject of the extensive article on the back.
Now it is clear that the name Klatten can lead to reflexive rejection. Maybe I wouldn’t refer to this really interesting post either, if I weren’t a fan of the center for a long time without knowing the background.
For years, I have used an illustration of the integrated Makerspace (of course: Europe’s largest) as a symbol for innovation places, as they should be accessible everywhere for interested people. You can take part in daily guided tours there in Garching free of charge – it’s worth it!
It wasn’t until we visited the site and had the opportunity to speak with an employee for a bit longer that it dawned on us who specifically was behind it and how big they were thinking there. By then it was too late for me to mentally reject the project.
UnternehmerTUM is a network node of the best kind to bring science, technology, SMEs, StartUp founders* and citizens* into constructive exchange. And not just to talk, but to initiate something new. Even if the impact cannot be measured in concrete terms. But from within the ecosystem, many network effects unfold, giving rise to new ideas, projects and companies in a collaborative network.
This is symbolized not only by the student campus in Garching, but also by the freshly created Munich Urban Colab in the middle of Munich. Such accessible places are needed in every city. For all those interested in participating in the future and possibly creating something new. Because, Klatten said in the interview:
Dax corporations or tech giants alone do not keep an economy running.
This would require about 50 centers in Europe comparable to Munich, according to Klatten and Schönenberger. And they are obviously working on that. UnternehmerTUM as a blueprint for a European network of incubators. Two other cooperating centers already exist. An article that gives hope. (Even if you don’t have to hype every resulting StartUp).
Article published on August 5^ 2022 on piqd as a reference to the Handelsblatt article From heiress to enabler: How Susanne Klatten is conquering the start-up scene