“We make sure that the excellent research at CISPA is translated into application,” says Max Wolf. He is part of CISPA’s Tech Transfer team and heads the Startups and Entrepreneurship department. He knows the challenges of young founders very well. “I have founded a company myself and know how difficult it is. Founders have to be tough and flexible, stay true to their vision and at the same time embrace change. That’s the pinnacle of research and business.”
Startups are the classic way research “hits the streets,” but not the only one, says Nicole Ziesche. She works with Wolf and recently moved to Saarland to help develop the CISPA Innovation Campus. An exchange platform for researchers, startups and companies will be created at Alte Schmelz to facilitate the development of research ideas into applicable products. “Not all researchers want to found companies. But many of them can envision temporary collaborations with companies in order to make their discoveries available to society.” Ziesche is not surprised that companies such as Airbus want to be a part of this large project. “The capacity for innovation and development CISPA has to offer is rarely found in publicly funded research institutions.”
The CISPA Innovation Campus will not only be the place where CISPA’s excellent research is transferred into industry. “A universe of its own will be created here, with CISPA as its central star,” Wolf says. “In addition to high-tech companies, catering businesses and other service providers will also settle here to create a lively campus atmosphere,” explains Ziesche. For founders, the CISPA Innovation Campus will create a whole new launching pad. “Startups often need an incredible number of attempts to convince companies of their ideas and persuade them to invest. It’s not uncommon for them to run out of steam in the process, especially monetarily. CISPA’s support puts them in a different negotiating position right from the start, because companies already have confidence in CISPA,” says Wolf. But CISPA offers founders far more than just its reputation. “Our support is based on the needs of the teams. It ranges from marketing training to advanced trainings, project planning and the acquisition of funding. We provide support for projects with start-up potential at an early stage.”
The private sector has long since taken notice of CISPA. 50 million euros will flow into a venture capital fund set up specifically for the research center, opening up entirely new opportunities for CISPA startups in the future. “We want to achieve substantial investments as early as next year. We are already preparing some teams for this,” says Wolf. Ziesche is confident that the expansion of the CISPA Innovation Campus will move forward quickly. “Here in Saarland, there are many interested companies that want to actively participate and invest in this process.” Wolf concurs: “We are in the comfortable situation of being in direct contact with the private sector. Many companies have long recognized that they also benefit from this major project.” At the same time, the Tech Transfer team always has the big picture in mind: “The development of the Alte Schmelz, this historic industrial site, into a state-of-the-art IT security location will help support structural change, make Saarland more competitive and establish it as an international hub,” says Ziesche.