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Hof University of Applied Sciences – a playground for tinkerers and founders

The promotion of start-ups has become an indispensable pillar at Hof University of Applied Sciences. The offer for students who want to start their own business or gain first experience in the startup context is constantly growing. In addition to the Digital Startup Center Einstein1 , which has existed on the university campus for three years, the Startuplab with its associated Makerspace has supplemented a well-coordinated ecosystem since 2020. The program ranges from theoretical entrepreneurship education in special courses of study, workshops for the development of innovative business ideas, the Makerspace, to advice on actually founding a startup. In its own program, Hof University of Applied Sciences supports students with innovative business ideas with up to 7,500 euros

René Göhring (left) and Jörg Raithel in the Makerspace at Hof University of Applied Sciences; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Business start-ups from universities promote structural economic change, they provide impetus and drive innovation processes. Ideally, graduates stay in the region, found startups and create new jobs in sustainable industries. Startups are of great importance for the economic development of a region.

For precisely these reasons, we want to create the best possible framework conditions for potential founders!”

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann, university president

“Self-initiative and future orientation, courage and perseverance, critical thinking, problem-solving orientation and analytical skills, these are key competencies that will help our students later in any situation in life, whether in private life, in employment or even in their own company. It is our task as a university to support young people in developing these important skills. With the Startuplab project and the Makerspace, we are setting another example and rounding out the existing offerings for those willing to start a business, from brainstorming to prototyping to founding.”

Encourage, inspire and promote

Make, make, make, that is the motto of Startuplab project coordinator Jörg Raithel and his colleague René Göhring, who manages the Makerspace

We offer professional equipment here and a protected setting in which students can experiment.”

René Göhring

The Makerspace is a workshop with high-tech machines, tools and software and an open place for all tinkerers at the university to realize technical ideas, make prototypes and test them. The showpiece is the BigRep, a 3D printer with a printing volume of one cubic meter. There are also a number of smaller 3D printers for various plastics, plotters, laser cutters, 3D scanners or special CAD software to design the models and a wide range of materials

We want to encourage inventive and start-up spirit. This is about simply trying things out, being creative, pushing ideas forward. Studying is the best time for that, and the Startuplab is the best place.”

Jörg Raithel

He adds, “With us, visions are expressly welcome and mistakes are also allowed to be made. Only those who take on the unknown will find new paths. We support you in this.”

Kickstart: Up to EUR 7500 in funding for innovative ideas

To give prospective founders a good start, Hof University of Applied Sciences has launched Kickstart, a special funding program financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. All students with an innovative idea can apply and receive up to 7,500 EUR in funding under the Kickstart program. With this money, students can purchase raw materials, components or, for example, special machines. “This phase is primarily about testing and further developing an idea into a demonstrator. This provides the first important insights into whether an idea is technically feasible and whether the product or service has a chance on the market,” says Jörg Raithel

Students appreciate the framework conditions for founders

One person who has taken advantage of this offer is Tommy Hofmann. The 31-year-old is studying electrical engineering at Hof University of Applied Sciences and has developed a prototype for a mobile fuel cell as part of the Kickstart program. His idea: with the combination of a hydrogen-powered fuel cell, a solar module and an integrated electricity storage unit, conventional electricity generators with combustion engines can be replaced in many practical applications. His solution delivers environmentally friendly electricity and is much quieter, allowing it to be operated at night, for example.

Tommy Hofmann (left), Dorothea Rosinski and Jonas Othmann from the founding team H2go in the Makerspace at Hof University of Applied Sciences. They have developed the prototype of a mobile fuel cell; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences

“We have built a first working prototype that supplies 230 volts of mains voltage in addition to low voltage. That’s what’s special about our product,” says Hofmann, who received support for his development from Dorothea Rosinski (International Management program) and Jonas Othmann (Master Project Management). “The prototype now needs to be further optimized. A market analysis is running in parallel. Then we’ll see what our chances are.”

Tommy Hofmann praises the extensive support offered at the university…

Without the Startuplab, I would not have initiated this project. The opportunities for founders here in Hof are excellent. I received full support for my idea right from the start.”

Tommy Hofmann, Founder

The example of Tommy, Dorothea and Jonas is ideal,” says Startuplab coordinator Jörg Raithel. “Three students get together and develop something new. That’s the first and most important step on the path of a potential startup. Our startup ecosystem on campus works well and we do everything we can to help the founders. However, they have to run themselves. I wish Tommy that he and his team will go very far.”

Jörg Raithel

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