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Senator for Economic Affairs Finds out More about Startups

Startups are an important source of inspiration for the economy – especially regionally. That is why Bremen’s Senator for Economic Affairs, Kristina Vogt, found out about startups from the University of Bremen and support offers from the BRIDGE university network during a virtual visit.

With her visit, the senator “preached to the choir”, so to speak, because the University of Bremen is renowned for its supportive start-up culture and is in this respect the most active German federal state after Berlin in terms of population size.  “Both in teaching and beyond, there are many activities related to startups at the university. This applies to all of the faculties,” said Professor Jutta Günther, Vice President Research, when she welcomed the event.

Two successful university startups presented themselves to the senator by way of example: Ubica Robotics GmbH and smart insights GmbH. Both have in common that they took advantage of several programs by BRIDGE and the Bremen startup ecosystem – from the BRIDGE StartUp Workout to the CAMPUSiDEEN competition to the federal funding program EXIST. Ubica Robotics is currently being funded as part of the EXIST Transfer of Research program; smart insights received an EXIST Business Start-up Grant in 2012/2013.

Ubica Robotics GmbH (in short: Ubica) is a technology spinoff from the University of Bremen. The founders Ferenc Bálint-Benczédi, Georg Bartels, Alexis Maldonado, and Jonas Reiling are research assistants in the working group for artificial intelligence (AGKI), headed by Professor Michael Beetz, and are funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the EXIST Transfer of Research program.  Ubica develops autonomous shelf-scanning robots that use camera systems and artificial intelligence to create digital twins of retail stores. In other words: The robots record how much of a product is located where in a store. This can optimize processes, minimize product shortages, save costs, and improve the overall shopping experience for customers.

smart insights GmbH was founded in 2012 by Dr. Tobias Recke and Dr. Fabian Stichnoth as an independent, owner-managed market research institute with a focus on market and brand research.  After completing their studies at the University of Bremen in 2010, both also completed their PhD here on the subject of brand positioning with the Chair of Innovative Brand Management (LiM®). In 2012/2013, the founders received an EXIST Business Start-up Grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.  Being a full-service business, smart insights GmbH today accompanies and advises its international, national, and regional customers on all aspects of the research areas of brands, customers, staff, and members.

Senator Kristina Vogt was impressed by these start-up successes. “The universities in Bremen State produce excellently qualified graduates, who we have to support in implementing their startup ideas. BRIDGE does a great job of accompanying founders from the university environment on their way to self-employment. The close cooperation between BRIDGE and the Starthaus, and the future partnership in the Digital Hub Industry show that Bremen is pulling together here in order to further advance Bremen as the place to be for startups.”

Martin Heinlein, BRIDGE managing director and head of UniTransfer, emphasized the importance of young startups for Bremen. “The universities are an important source of innovation. Thanks to the wide range of offers from UniTransfer/BRIDGE, we are an important factor in helping young companies to get started. Every year, around twenty successful startups from Bremen universities confirm that we are doing the right thing.

About BRIDGE

BRIDGE is the central point of contact for students, alumni, and members of Bremen universities on the subject of business startups. The BRIDGE university initiative is a cooperation between the University of Bremen, the Bremen City University of Applied Sciences, the University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven, Jacobs University, and the Bremer Aufbau-Bank GmbH. The goal of BRIDGE is to foster the start-up culture at all participating universities and to promote promising ideas with start-up potential at an early stage.

Further Information: www.bridge-online.de (in German only)

Videokonferenz
The visit of Bremen’s Senator for Economic Affairs Kristina Vogt (below, right) at UniTransfer/BRIDGE demonstrated that virtual exchange can work extremely well. Screenshot: University of Bremen