Academia and the business sector: Freie Universität Berlin not only maintains an extensive network with the business sector, but also considers itself to be an engine driving economic development. As a result, transferring knowledge and technology is a high priority at the university. This is because both the natural sciences and the humanities yield inventions and new ideas that can form the basis for products of the future.
Putting Research to Work in Business
The Knowledge and Technology Transfer team ensures that as much research output as possible is eventually used commercially as well. This goal is achieved in a variety of ways:
Scholars and scientists perform research on behalf of or in cooperation with businesses
Inventions made by scholars, scientists, and researchers are patented and marketed
Faculty and staff members, students, or graduates establish a company in order to get the results of their research and ideas ready for the market.
Scientists, scholars, and those involved in the business sector receive outstanding support from Freie Universität in all three channels, for instance through long-term cooperation with large, mid-sized, and small businesses, through the PULS patent and license service, and the profund startup organization.
Cooperative Arrangements and Databases
Scholars and scientists from Freie Universität present the results of heir research at trade fairs, which give them an opportunity to network with potential partners in the business sector. For students, cooperative initiatives with large corporate groups and with small and mid-sized businesses provide an added focus on real-world practice in their education, and graduates have an easier time starting out in their careers.
Existing Cooperative Arrangements
Freie Universität currently cooperates with partners including Bayer-Schering, Pfizer, BASF, BMW, and a large number of small and mid-sized businesses.
List of current industrial cooperative arrangements
Research Database: Information as the Basis for Cooperation
To provide information on academic activities at Freie Universität and make it easier for potential partners in the business sector to make contact with those affiliated with the university, Freie Universität Berlin maintains a publicly accessible online database. It presents the profiles of scholars and scientists and lists more than 8,500 current and completed research projects.
The university’s internal patent and license service (Patent- und Lizenzservice, or PULS) works closely with the patent utilization agency ipal GmbH, which assesses inventions reported by members of the faculty and staff of Freie Universität in terms of patents and potential commercial use, coordinates the entire patent application process, and makes commercial use of the inventions – for instance, as licenses for businesses or as the basis for starting a separate company. Scholars and scientists can contact PULS for information, advice, and support on all issues having to do with inventions.
Support for Startups
The university has been successfully supporting startups since the 1980s. The goal of these activities is to firmly establish entrepreneurial thought patterns and actions, both among scholars and scientists and among students.
Those starting new companies often have to rely on financial and technical support from others during the preparatory stages and while the business is getting off the ground. Profund – the startup support organization of Freie Universität Berlin, supports students, scholars, scientists, and alumni of Freie Universität in starting their own businesses, from the initial idea right through to its successful implementation.
Profund offers seminars and competitions to cultivate the skills and qualifications needed by entrepreneurs, organizes networking events, provides advice and assistance in finance scouting, and puts potential entrepreneurs in contact with experts, coaches, and mentors. Entrepreneurs can also use one of the more than 100 well-equipped offices in the five startup buildings (Gründerhäuser) on campus free of charge while they are getting their businesses off the ground. As a result, entrepreneurs are able to benefit from the university’s knowledge base right in their own area.
From 2006 to 2010, more than 60 new businesses were formed with support from profound. In the Berlin-Brandenburg Business Plan Competition (Businessplan-Wettbewerb Berlin-Brandenburg), Freie Universität Berlin was selected the “Powerhouse of New Ideas” (Ideenschmiede) three times in a row, from 2007 to 2009, and was the most successful higher education institution in Berlin.
Freie Universität has ranked at the top, nationwide, in obtaining EXIST startup grants from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology since the start of the program. A study conducted in 2009 ranked Freie Universität third in terms of spin-off activities out of the 59 German higher education institutions surveyed.