Let science make the world a better place! Developing and testing a holistic and sustainable approach for the purpose of start-up support for PhD students and post-docs.

Elements4Founding: the essentials at a glance

  • Project to raise awareness and promote entrepreneurship activities
  • Aimed at PhD and post-doc researchers at the University of Stuttgart
  • Duration from 2022 to 2024
  • Accompanying research to validate and evaluate the formats

Reduce barriers to entrepreneurship among researchers

Existing approaches at universities to promote research transfer mostly focus on the target group of students. So far, there are hardly any approaches that explicitly address PhD students and post-docs. Elements4Founding closes this gap.

Research shows that more than one third of doctoral and post-doc students have ideas for founding a company, but usually do not put them into practice. Yet research transfer produces many promising technologies and breakthrough innovations - and successful companies that can have a lasting impact on society.

Various obstacles prevent researchers from starting their own businesses - these range from a lack of awareness of their own entrepreneurial qualities to a lack of expertise in finance or marketing to a lack of orientation along the development and start-up process.

Sensitization and qualification of PhDs and post-docs for the topic of entrepreneurship

The goal of the Elements4Founding project is to develop a holistic, sustainable approach to sensitizing and qualifying PhDs and post-docs for the topic of entrepreneurship within three years. The accompanying research for the project should result in a best practice approach for entrepreneurship education programs at universities for doctoral students and post-docs.

There are currently more than 3,700 doctoral and post-doc students at the University of Stuttgart (as of 2023). On the one hand, they should be motivated to perceive the path as a possible career path, and on the other hand, they should be taught an entrepreneurship method set in order to be able to transfer and commercialize their scientific breakthroughs.

Various formats, workshops and events are designed to engage participants at the levels of awareness-raising, qualification and advanced planning, and in each case to highlight and communicate the opportunities for further support that participants can take advantage of.

Foundation support with strong cooperation partners

Elements4Founding cooperates with the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) and is carried out in close collaboration with various offices of the University of Stuttgart, the start-up officers, the EXIST team, and the TTI (Technology Transfer Initiative). The project is funded and supported by the Vector Foundation.

Workshop series RISE: Contents and dates in spring 2023

Research, Innovation, Science and Entrepreneurship - that's what RISE is all about. In this first session, we will introduce the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research (ENI), the Elements4Founding project and the RISE workshop series. The session will take place digitally on January 26, 2023 (WebEx).

What are my core competencies, strengths and weaknesses when it comes to innovation and business development? What is an "Entrepreneurial Mindset"? This first workshop is about discovering different concepts and types of Entrepreneurship. We will explore how to break the so-called "Entrepreneurial Stereotype" and discover innovation processes. The session will take place digitally on February 02, 2023 (WebEx).

What role do I play in teams? How can I realize my research results and processes in a product? This two-part session will address both questions. Together we will discover the relevance of team dynamics and research transfer. The session will take place digitally (WebEx) on February 10, 2023.

How can I specifically develop problem- and customer-oriented innovations for the challenges of tomorrow? One possible solution is to orient oneself to the thinking and methods of designers for creativity processes: Design Thinking. This hands-on session will take place on-site at ARENA2036. Together with the experts of the Design Factory Stuttgart we will give an insight into the possibilities of Design Thinking.

Is successful entrepreneurship compatible with social entrepreneurship? What constitutes social entrepreneurship? Can my ideas have an impact on society? Many (aspiring) founders have already asked themselves these questions. In the session on Feb. 24, our partners from the Falling Walls Foundation's Young Entrepreneurs in Science program will give you answers. For practical applications and unanswered questions, we have invited two founders who can share their own experiences. The session will take place digitally (WebEx).

Starting a business - regardless of the type of business, idea or product - brings with it a variety of legal and financial implications, such as finding the right business model and financing options, protecting intellectual property or respecting the intellectual property of others. To provide an overview and deep insight into the topic of innovation and intellectual property, we have invited Marie-Claire Becker as a speaker, IP and start-up coach at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research (ENI). The session will take place in digital format (WebEx) on 03 March.

Not everyone is a born entertainer - and that's not a bad thing. But if you want to successfully convince others to take notice of, be interested in, purchase or even invest in a product, you have to be convincing. In our pitch training, experts from the Falling Walls Foundation's Young Entrepreneurs in Science program provide intensive pitch training that will boost your confidence in pitching just about anything.

What is "Impactful Research" and what does it mean for me? This session is divided into three parts and will be delivered by Dr. Inma Aleixos Borrás, Fellow of the Marie Curie Skłodowska Foundation and researcher at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research (ENI). She will guide participants through a self-reflection and a reflection on "Impactful Research" using films and documentaries between Pitch Training and the final event.

Session dates:

  • 03/30/2013 | 4:00pm-5:30pm
  • 04/03/2013 | 4:00pm-5:30pm
  • 04/13/2013 | 4:00pm-5:30pm

To conclude the workshop series RISE appropriately, we will meet on 19.04. for the final event SUNSET. From 4:00pm - 7:00pm we will meet in the premises of AI Express in Böblingen to look back on the workshop series together, to exchange ideas and to plan further steps. More information will follow shortly.


This image shows Andreas Wahl

Andreas Wahl

Dr. rer. pol.

Head of Teaching

This image shows Kathrin Lichius

Kathrin Lichius


Research Associate

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