Venture Connect is a new BMBF-funded project launched by Fraunhofer Venture at the end of 2016. The team is responsible for a project to create a platform for medium-sized businesses as well as Fraunhofer institutes and their researchers to accelerate the transfer of Fraunhofer technologies into industrial applications and to identify the ideal transfer concept for the Fraunhofer technology leveraging the experiences of Venture Lab. We talked to Johann C. Siemes and Lucas Siebeneicher to learn more about what is next.
Mr. Siemes, Mr. Siebeneicher, what is the objective of the new project Venture Connect?
Johann C. Siemes: The aim of Venture Connect is to commercialize Fraunhofer technologies in cooperation with medium-sized businesses and by leveraging the Fraunhofer Venture know how. To develop the optimum transfer concept for a technology, we identify company-specific needs for innovation and build individual models of cooperation.
Lucas Siebeneicher: Furthermore, Venture Connect is the appropriate platform to connect entrepreneurial Fraunhofer researchers on the one hand and innovative businesses on the other hand to enable joint, systematic marketing of high-tech ideas.
How does Venture Connect fit into the existing development program process at Fraunhofer Venture?
Lucas Siebeneicher: The project uses the existing Venture Lab formats and adapts them to the specific needs of the cooperation partners. The workshops and seminars of the business ideation phase as well as the business design process about entrepreneurship may be customized from the company’s perspective to focus on current challenges of the presented business model.
Johann C. Siemes: Furthermore, the Fraunhofer-internal program Accelerator FDays® supports the team of employees and/or Fraunhofer researchers with developing the technology idea into a marketable product with a sustainable business model. To take account of the business or industry perspective, the program may be extended by individual modules in the form of workshops. Finally, we identify which transfer concept, such as spin-off, joint venture, or licensing, is the most suitable.
Lucas Siebeneicher: The Fraunhofer idea portal also plays a central role in the Venture Connect process. It serves as an exchange platform for Fraunhofer researchers and companies. Until now, the portal has only been used Fraunhofer-internally. Access for external partners is being implemented at present.
So what are the first steps in the project now?
Johann C. Siemes: To better understand the practical needs of German medium-sized businesses and test first cooperation models, we will launch a pilot project within the next weeks. Starting with a joint needs assessment of the company, Fraunhofer institutes are identified with which to enter into a dialog. Through the mutual exchange about available technologies and existing market needs in practice, Venture Lab development programs are identified that are suitable for successful cooperation.
Lucas Siebeneicher: The challenge is to apply the tools of the business ideation phase and of business design to the business model of a medium-sized company and transfer it to existing activities. At the end of the pilot phase, cooperation models that have been developed are validated and possibilities for adapting the business ideation workshops and FDays® are evaluated. The idea portal will be adapted according to the learnings from the pilot phase.
What else would you like to tell our readers?
Johann C. Siemes: The success of Venture Connect will depend on the commitment and active participation of Fraunhofer institutes and businesses to provide an offering that is tailored to the needs of both. Added value may only be created for medium-sized business all across Germany if the vast potential that is in the institutes’ technologies is actually used. Therefore, we encourage all institutes, their researchers, and business partners to contact us with any idea or suggestion regarding the joint technology transfer between medium-sized businesses and Fraunhofer. On the one hand, we are always interested in transferring existing technologies to partners in the industry and in initiating the joint innovation process. On the other hand, we are in regular exchange with medium-sized businesses that often lack the capacities and structures for own innovation activities.
Lucas Siebeneicher: Venture Connect therefore provides access for businesses to Fraunhofer technologies, to the specific innovation expertise of the Venture Lab, as well as to the entire Fraunhofer Venture team.
Thank you very much for the interview!
If you are interested in participating as a pilot partner and would like to seize the opportunity and see your needs reflected in the program, do not hesitate to contact us. The Venture Connect Team is looking forward to your feedback and experiences, questions and suggestions!