Research-to-Startup for Postdocs (5min. Video for DAAD PRIME Workshop)

This 5min. video discusses basics of turning your research into a startup. It focuses on public funding. The video was created for the March 2021 DAAD PRIME workshop, but is not restricted to a postdoc audience. Indeed, it works for anyone with a good idea and ideally a team who is willing to move to Germany to benefit from its rich ecosystem for public funding of startups.

Interview with GSO on Academia and Entrepreneurship

The German Scholars Organization (GSO) just published an interview with me on how to create startups from research in Germany

How can you spin your research into a startup? We asked Dirk Riehle, professor of Computer Science and advocate for founders with an academic background, for insights and advice. Before becoming a professor, Dirk has worked in industry, always in close connection with startups. His passion for entrepreneurship has become a big part of his professorship and Dirk has been developing, guiding, and supporting startups from research.

Abstract of interview, 2021-03-01

Read more on the GSO website in the Ask-an-expert article on Academia and Entrepreneurship. (Local PDF copy.)

And if you wonder what I’m up to right now, this is it: EDITIVE.

Ten Years of Student Startups

A main reason why I became a professor is to create and guide student startups, in general, and from my research projects in particular. It has been a bumpy ride, to say the least, but I guess, every learning curve is. Data points (startups) are still not plenty, but I can nevertheless discern some learnings. Without further ado, the usual bullet list of insights:

Learning is by person. Large companies can talk about organizational memory and capabilities building all they want, in a startup, knowledge walks in the door (and out) by person. A new person basically starts over and makes all the same mistakes the person they replace also made… two years later. So, avoid losing good people.

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The Perfect Professor for University Startups

A professor, so my belief, can play an important role in generating startups from University research. Most professors don’t, but some do, and I wanted to summarize my experiences as to what would be the perfect combination in one person.

Situation

There are three ingredients to get a university startup set-up and off the ground: (1) team, (2) idea, and (3) seed funding. Team, as anyone in startup-land knows, is by far the most important ingredient, as the others ultimately follow from it.

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Cargo Cult Startup Incubators

The continued creation of me-too startup incubators reminds me of the (South Seas’) cargo cult. Richard Feynman tells the story this way: The cargo cult people were natives of the South Seas who, during the world war, benefited from Western civilizations bringing cargo to their land. After the war ended, and the cargo stopped coming, the natives built wooden artifacts that looked like planes in an attempt to bring back the good old days of free supplies. Obviously, it didn’t work.

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Professors and Startups

My primary goal in becoming a professor was to turn my (hoped-for excellent) research and teaching into startups. For that reason I created the Startupinformatik program and set-up my teaching to support it. Sadly, I’ve been noticing over the years that things don’t seem to get easier but harder. Specifically, “the system” (I’ll explain below) seems to view professors with mistrust rather than as the natural allies they should be when it comes to leading students to create a startup.

Let me illustrate this using two experiences:

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Entrepreneurship Panel at IT-Gipfel Göttingen #itgipfelgoe

A few days ago, I participated in a panel on entrepreneurship in the beautiful but small city of Göttingen, Germany. While a university town, it isn’t exactly the Silicon Valley either, much like my current home town of Erlangen.

Thus, on the panel, I ran into the usual German morals on what makes a good entrepreneur, respectively, how to treat one:

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