Success story: 25 years TTI GmbH

July 20, 2023

The University of Stuttgart's TTI - Technologie-Transferinitiative GmbH -celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 6, 2023. More than 250 guests attended presentations delivered by five keynote speakers and took the chance to engage in intensive networking at the after-party.
[Picture: private]

From idea to innovative start-up

"After 25 years in operation, today is an important milestone for the TTI GmbH," stated Rector Prof. Wolfram Ressel at the opening of the anniversary celebration. "604 companies have emerged from TTI GmbH since it opened in 1998 - a record that can rightly be called a success story."

27 years ago, the then Rector, Prof. Günter Pritschow and the Vice Rector for Research and Technology Prof. Ernst Messerschmid developed the idea of using start-ups from the University of Stuttgart to promote the transfer of technologies to industry. "Companies that are created at our university have the potential to quickly incorporate innovations from research and let these flow into the value chain," explained Ressel.

Young entrepreneurs need support in their start-up enterprises, in order to ensure the success of business start-ups and technology transfer. TTI GmbH provides them with free start-up coaching and advice on start-up-related issues, such as financing and submitting applications for funding. In addition, start-ups can rent space at low cost in the Technology Center on Campus Vaihingen, the headquarters of TTI GmbH. Laboratories and measuring devices at the University of Stuttgart can also be used by those founding a start-up. TTI GmbH even provides conference rooms and co-working spaces.

In a supportive and risk-free environment, entrepreneurs can concentrate on implementing their ideas while TTI GmbH takes care of the rest: 60 transfer and start-up centers (TGZ) and 96 transfer and start-up companies (TGU) are currently active at TTI GmbH. As a TGU, start-ups can establish their business model on the market under the umbrella of TTI GmbH, without having to set up their own company.

From left to right: Peter Heinke (Managing Director of TTI GmbH), Daniel Wibbing (Co-Founder roboloon), Wolfram Ressel (Rector of the University of Stuttgart), Manuel Klein (CEO, EKU Power Drives GmbH) and Arndt Upfold (Ministerialrat Baden-Württemberg).

Support for start-up enterprises

At the anniversary celebration, two start-ups presented their start-up journeys, showing visitors exactly how the process works in practice. roboloon presented its prototype omnidirectional airship drone. With this innovative solution, infrastructure such as power and gas lines, railroad tracks or road networks can be inspected in an emission-free and automated manner. Dr. Daniel Wibbing, Co-Founder of roboloon, thanked the CEO of TTI GmbH for giving his idea a chance, and allowing it to grow into what it is today. He went on to say that TTI GmbH provided him with access to a strong startup and coaching network. roboloon is currently receiving the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant and will also receive funding from the Young Innovators Program from September 1, 2023.

EKU Power Drives GmbH, a spin-off from the Institute of Industrial Automation and Software Engineering (IAS) also focuses on environmentally friendly and resource-saving technologies. The team sees itself as a specialist for alternative drive solutions with power ratings above 500 kW for large, industrial applications. CEO Manuel Klein told of how the project began ten years ago. "We were proud to have founded a company.  But try buying something from Siemens as a private person - you quickly reach your limits." And this is one of the reasons why they initially founded a TGU under the umbrella of TTI GmbH. Today, 150 employees work for the company worldwide.

Sustainably promoting start-up culture and strengthening the start-up community

To mark the occasion, the Ministry of Economy Affairs, Labor and Tourism Baden-Württemberg also sent TTI GmbH his greetings. Arndt Upfold, Ministerial Councilor for the State of Baden-Württemberg and Deputy Head of the Department for Business Start-ups and Company Succession, emphasized the role of TTI GmbH as "a tower of strength at a time when very many things are in upheaval". For example, he noted that TTI was one of the first projects of founder initiatives to receive funding and that is still operating today. Furthermore, he also introduced initiatives set up by the state of Baden-Württemberg and tailored to support start-ups, such as the early-stage funding instrument Start-up BW Pre-Seed, the funding program Innovation Vouchers for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises or competitions and events, such as CyberOne Hightech Award or the Start-up Night BW.

Closing words were delivered by the managing director of TTI GmbH, Peter Heinke. "I have something to add to the comments made by Mr. Klein of EKU Power Drives GmbH. The three company founders gave up their very well-paid jobs in industry to realize their start-up idea with a TGU. This is the kind of attitude we want to see - it deserves respect and applause!".

About TTI GmbH

TTI GmbH was founded at the University of Stuttgart in 1998. It advises and supports university members and alumni who wish to start their own businesses. TTI GmbH is part of StartupCampus0711 and works closely with the newly founded Transfer Center, the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science (ENI) and the Office of the Vice Rector for Knowledge and Technology Transfer.

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