Business Plans: Fostering Entrepreneurship at German Universities


Germany needs more entrepreneurs. Start-ups not only help rejuvenate the job market--on average, each start-up creates five new jobs--flexible young businesses can also keep pace with latest technological developments faster than the sluggish industrial dinosaurs. Start-ups also open excellent vistas for young scientists, offering the challenge to fight with courage and creativity for personal dreams.

But compared to other nationalities, Germans still hesitate to set up their own enterprises. While in the United States, for example, 8.5% of all citizens have tried starting their own business, only 2.2% of Germans have. And this is not enough. "Instead of the current 1400 new high-tech start-ups annually, we probably need about 2000 knowledge-based foundations in the future if we want to keep our position in these world markets," Guido Baranowski, chairman of the Association of German Founder Centers (ADT), recently told Next Wave. Universities are still far from developing their full commercial potential. While several recent surveys agree that 25% to 30% of all scientists have good chances for creating a start-up, only 5% currently dare to take this step.

Obviously, entrepreneurship needs to find its way into the German universities. The increasing number of regional business plan competitions, Start-Up Days, Founder Centers at universities, and entrepreneurship professorships are visible signs of a growing understanding of the issue's importance.

So it is with great pleasure that Science's Next Wave announces on the occasion of this month's special feature "Business Plan Competitions" a new collaboration with the Berlin Institute of Entrepreneurship. The institute invited leading entrepreneurship educators and researchers to debate what universities should do and what they can do--or cannot do--to foster the culture of entrepreneurship at German Universities.

This week, Dr. Sven Ripsas, CEO of the Berlin Institute of Entrepreneurship, will introduce the resulting "Ten Berlin Propositions." The propositions are intended to mark the path of German entrepreneurship education in the 21st century. In the following months, each of the propositions will be discussed by leading experts of entrepreneurship.

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