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Munich Garching: the Smart, fast, innovative campus of TUM
The Bavarian king Ludwig II and Elon Musk have a lot of character traits and interests in common. Surprised? King Ludwig II had to argue and fight with his finance ministers in order to finance his ambitious castle building project. Elon Musk had his fair share of doubters and also financing issues to overcome during the early stages of building his ambitious tech companies, namely Tesla and SpaceX.
In addition to their common traits of enterprising minds and great foresight, they also share a connection to the Technische Universität München, the TUM. King Ludwig II founded the predecessor of TUM, the Polytechnische Schule München, in 1868, in a drive to foster development of Munich, the capital of his Bavarian kingdom. Elon Musk’SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition saw the TUM’s team being fastest in all 3 races conducted to date.
King Ludwig II and Elon Musk both managed to prove the critics of their “blue sky”, highly innovative ideas wrong: TUM became one of the most highly regarded technical universities worldwide, whilst Neuschwanstein castle is a major tourist attraction as well as the mould for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella fairy tale castles. For Elon Musk, both SpaceX as well as Tesla became highly successful businesses, lauded as role models for future unicorn tech companies.
TUM, one of the leading technical universities worldwide, has an illustrious, long history of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship: Carl von Linde was only 26 years old when he accepted a post as professor of mechanical engineering at the new technical university founded by King Ludwig II. Prof. Linde exchanged university life for business management in 1868 and founded the Linde’s Eismaschinen AG, a company which over time evolved into Linde AG®, a DAX 30 powerhouse with approx. 40 thousand employees, currently merging with US based Praxair. Early day customers included breweries, notably the Spaten Brauereias well as Guinness®– beer tastes best when served chilled, after all.
In keeping with the entrepreneurial traditions, TUM Students are encouraged to develop projects into start-up companies at every turn. The powerful enabler behind the TUM Hyperloop success and many other initiatives is UnternehmerTUM. This centre for innovation and business creation supports and consults, runs pitchfests, provides start-up academy training, helps with financing and created Makerspace: 1500 square meters of “try-it-out” workshop space are located inside the UnternehmerTUM building, fully equipped with machinery, equipment and software tools to turn ideas into prototypes.
Once the idea has evolved into prototype, UnternehmerTUM offers founders and start-ups a comprehensive service from the initial idea to IPO. A team of 240 specialised experts accompany them actively in creating and building their companies, market entry and financing – also via Venture Capital.
Another important start-up destination on campus is gate Garching: This technology centre for founders’ provides office space plus business services, as well as networking events and business coaching. The gate is well used to its occupant companies starting small and growing fast. Start-up companies with growing numbers of employees are accommodated as long as possible within the gate by moving the companies into larger spaces or adding rooms to the rental contract. As there is strength in numbers, two gate Garching based med tech companies have started to collaborate and founded a 3rd company, showcasing the importance of networking opportunities for start-ups.
The medical tech start-up inveox, an alumnus of UnternehmerTUM programs, developed an automation system for the preanalytical phase of histopathology, the laboratory analysis of tissue samples used to diagnose cancer. The inveox approach allows for seamless, digital handling of the tissue sample preparation, shipment and identification. This standardized, fully trackable process saves money, but more importantly it reduces the waiting time for patients who are in an emotionally difficult, anxious situation and the reliability of their respective diagnoses. This is brilliant idea of providing a technologically smart solution for an incredibly important issue made inveox the winner of a many prestigious innovation awards as well as the recipient of angel investors funding.