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Innovation Hotspot Passau

By Christina Hertel

2007: Three students and roommates mix a variety of cereals together that are then stored in cans. 2020: Their start-up “MyMuesli” has hundreds of coworkers, an annual turnover of around €60 million, and a factory in the city center of Passau. This story of rags to riches for the three young men through cereal is Passau’s most well-known entrepreneurial story. However, the city of 50,000 inhabitants, known for its famous onion domes, also offers many projects, places, and funding opportunities that allow media professionals to put their ideas into practice. The following is an overview of innovation hotspot Passau.

Passau’s Center for Media and Communication

At the Center for Media and Communication, students from the University of Passau can learn how to host a talk show, operate a camera, or edit a radio program. After three years of construction, the center opened its doors in 2014 and boasts a newsroom, TV and radio studios, and an E-learning method laboratory. Franz Habel works as a media technician at the faculty of Communication Sciences and previously held the position of technical equipment manager. He believes the center’s network and cross-media is a big advantage, for students can go beyond writing texts and also work on television or radio programs. Future journalists aren’t the only ones using the equipment: the center is open to the entire university body. For example, scientists meet at the center to partake in research on the impacts of digitization.

Passau’s Center for Media and Communication

Certificate Program Digital Entrepreneurship

No matter the subject you study or whether you are a Bachelor's student or a post-doctoral lecturer, University of Passau makes it possible for all interested parties to realize their digital business ideas. For this purpose, the English-language certificate program "Digital Technology and Entrepreneurship" has been available since the 2018 summer semester.

According to the University of Passau’s press spokeswoman Katrina Jordan, participants learn through six modules about the tools that a founder requires and then go on to develop a digital prototype. They receive guidance from professors and the university’s start-up experts and exchange ideas with entrepreneurs in the field. One example comes from 2019, when two students developed a beekeeping assistance app. The student entrepreneurs built sensors inside beehives which collected data and incurred beekeeping recommendations, such as the ideal time for honey harvesting. According to press spokeswoman Jordan, start-ups with a clear media focus have yet to be established at the center. However, the program is open to everyone, and the teams primarily have an interdisciplinary approach. Media and communications scientists are often responsible for marketing.

The Digital Research Magazine

Students and scientists at the University of Passau do not just work on practical innovations. One of the university’s main areas of research is “Digitization, connected society, and (Internet-)cultures.” The University of Passau aims to become a leader in the field by 2028. In her Digital Research Magazine (Digitales Forschungsmagazin), the university’s science spokeswoman provides insight into research that is easy to grasp for those that may not familiar with the field. She and her colleagues report on how the university’s science faculty develops regulations for Internet giants. They also organize events such as the Digital Marketing Conference in Passau. In March, scientists from major universities and representatives of leading companies like Google and BMW will present on artificial intelligence and the ability to measure emotions at the conference.

Inn.Kubator

Inn.Kubator

Alexander Wilde, with his long hair, beard, and checkered shirt, looks like the member of an indie rock band. In fact, he has performed in bars around Barcelona and Berlin. His passion for music inspired his business idea, “Flowra,” an app he developed that helps musicians improve by demonstrating the ways in which they can modify the favorite songs they play. Wilde has been working on his project since 2019 at Inn.Kubator, Passau’s founder center. “We want to be the first place to go to when someone in Passau has an interesting idea,” Inn.Kubator’s network manager Tamara Schneider has stated. The center opened in 2017 and is funded by the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs. The building provides 300 square meters of office space, coworking areas, and common rooms. Rooms are available for 11 teams that share a similar goal: their projects are new, innovative, and have to do with digitization. Tamara Schneider and her two colleagues guide the founders as they develop their ideas into a business model. The founders center in old town Passau is currently almost entirely full, though Inn.Kubator will be moving into a new building next to the university in May. There will be three times the space and the location is meant to move away from traditional office organization to create more of a start-up energy.

ITC 1 Deggendorf

The Inn.Kubator in Passau is part of the Founders’ Digitization Center of Lower Bavaria (Gründerzentrum Digitalisierung Niederbayern) which also supports and guides founders at two other locations: the Innovation and Technology Campus (ITC1) in Deggendorf and the Link in Landshut. In Deggendorf, founders are primarily from the technological field and work, for example, on artificial intelligence, Schneider has stated. The start-ups develop their ideas at the nearby Technology Campus where established high-tech media, IT, and electronics companies are located. The Deggendorf Institute of Technology is also close by. Located in a former mannequin factory, the ITC1 occupies a space of 400 square meters and is currently full.

 

ITC 1 Deggendorf

Link Landshut

70 kilometers away, at Landshut’s founders center, more space will soon be available. Link will move from an old building into a newer and bigger space in the summer of 2020. There will be 1,000 square meters of office and coworking areas for start-ups, entrepreneurs, and creatives. Rent is low: a day ticket for the coworking area only costs €17.00. However, in Deggendorf and Passau, the advantage for founders encompasses above all the opportunity to consult and network. One of Link’s current collaborators is Rework One, a start-up that aims to digitize trade and facilitate communication on construction sites. New Media, an online marketing and video production company, has also found its place there.

THD Startup Campus

Passau and Deggendorf are both small Bavarian towns with a port and a university. However, their similarities go beyond this single point in common, for students in Deggendorf can also obtain support for strong business ideas. “The principles of founding a concept was one of our main topics even before this whole start-up hype,” Alfons Weinzierl, the Entrepreneurship Manager at Deggendorf Institute of Technology has stated. Deggendort University’s Institute for Business Start-ups was founded in 2001 and has been named THD Startup Campus since 2017. An interdisciplinary team of professors as well as marketing and founding experts guide students and graduates as they tackle issues regarding the topic of start-ups. “No matter what phase the founder is in, they can always come to us,” Weinzierl has asserted. His team also helps entrepreneurs come up with ideas. It is difficult to establish a start-up in an auditorium or a cafeteria, which is why the university provides a room with a projector, flip charts, and a couch for this very purpose.

The goal of the new start-ups according to Weinzierl is to receive a founders grant so as to have more time to focus on their ideas. He is proud to announce that multiple teams received funding just recently. Among them are the developers of lumoo, an app that helps elderly people connect to the digital world for applications such as WhatsApp or online banking.

THD Startup Campus