The ABC of Start-ups: Founders Academy

The first ever Founders Academy took place from 4 to 5 October 2011. Max Planck Society (MPS) scientists interested in founding a company in any industry based on technologies developed by the Max Planck Institutes were given the opportunity to pick up an extensive range of information on all aspects of start-ups and company financing.

The Max Planck Innovation event, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), provided an insight into ‘the art of business planning’ and the topic of ‘intellectual property – basis for start-ups’. Other presentations given by the start-up specialists and legal experts at Max Planck Innovation described the ‘choice of legal form & implications on the actions companies can take’ and offered tips on ‘technology and market research’ and ‘fundamentals of financial planning’.

Founders and managers of the successful MPS spin-offs Evotec, EMCTEC, Menlo Systems and Suppremol participated in a podium discussion entitled ‘It’s a long way…lessons learnt’, in which they pointed out that the path to setting up your own company demands patience and is not always straightforward.

Start-up financing was a major topic area. Following a systematic overview of possible financing options, consideration was given to development financing, risk capital financing with the HTGF (high-tech start-up fund), debt financing with government support in the form of loans, guarantees and silent partnerships, as well as venture capital financing.

A case study provided scope for the participants to actively get to grips with planning and realising a successful start-up and offered a chance to discuss alternatives in areas like financing, competitive situation and distribution.

Boasting a wealth of start-up expertise, Max Planck Innovation has been providing professional support to scientists during the spin-off process and the subsequent company establishment since 1990. Max Planck Innovation has a diverse range of support instruments it can use to this end. Three successful instruments, the ‘Life Science Inkubator’, as well as ‘start-up support with promoters’ and ‘good practice – management support from industry experts and interim managers’ were presented at the Founders Academy – material the founders can use to start up their own company successfully.


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