HNU Hub provides new im­petus for im­pact en­tre­pren­eur­ship

23. November 2023

Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU) is one of twelve universities in Germany that have received funding from the BMBF program to promote social innovation in the university context. In close cooperation with the Haus der Nachhaltigkeit Ulm, Neu-Ulm und Region e.V. (HdN), the university has set up a research and transfer hub that aims to intensify the exchange between researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs and anchor Impact Entrepreneurship (IE) in society. The new hub has now started its activities.

With the founding of the Impact Entrepreneurship Collaboration Hub (IECH), HNU is setting a strong example in the promotion of social entrepreneurship and sustainable development. “It is important to us to promote a lively dialog between all stakeholders and thus create a fertile breeding ground for social innovation,” explains Prof. Dr. Thomas Bayer, project manager of the IECH.

The project, which is funded as part of the BMBF’s “Gesellschaft der Innovationen – Impact Challenge an Hochschulen” funding programme, represents a forward-looking approach in the field of impact entrepreneurship, which is characterized by intensive and innovative collaboration between universities and civil society. “What is special about our commitment to impact entrepreneurship is the close integration of theory and practice. We create a symbiosis of academic expertise and social commitment in order to jointly develop sustainable solutions for pressing social challenges,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Bayer. HNU not only acts as an academic educational institution, but also as an active creator and promoter of social innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship.

Ideal environment through networking with the HNU Founders Space
The Founders Space, HNU’s entrepreneurship and transfer center, plays a central role in this, as it not only provides the necessary infrastructure, but also a creative environment in which ideas can flourish. The close links between the IECH and the Founders Space therefore offer the ideal conditions for transferring impact entrepreneurship from theory to practice: Students and lecturers can come into direct contact with entrepreneurs, work together on projects and gain valuable experience. “With the IECH project and the Founders Space, we are creating a place where innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit meet social responsibility and sustainable action. We are convinced that this interdisciplinary and participatory approach will pave the way for a new generation of entrepreneurs who are not only economically successful, but also make a positive contribution to solving social challenges,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Thomas Bayer.

Cooperation partner HdN: together for a future worth living
The ideal cooperation partner for the new hub was the HdN with its vision “Shaping a sustainable future together. For me – for you – for everyone”. According to the association’s approach, the necessary transformation will only find its place in society through realistic and realistic sustainable offers on the ground. More than 70 volunteers are therefore working on linking existing good concepts at a local level in order to develop their full impact. “The transformation to a more sustainable society can only happen if the economy, society, science and the community are networked,” Ivanka Burger, board member of the HdN, is convinced. The HdN already brings together representatives from all groups – a great added value for the IECH: students and lecturers can investigate how technological progress, education and political frameworks can help shape economic, ecological and social change in the region.

Making transformation possible: building bridges between science and society
Building the bridge between science and society that is necessary for a successful transformation is the linchpin of the IECH. On this basis, a cooperation at eye level is to be established, which pursues the concrete goal of anchoring sustainability in the region. “The cooperation between HdN, HNU and Founders Space – i.e. between civil society, the university and the entrepreneurship and start-up center – has a very special potential that is unique in this form,” says Ivanka Burger. Since the early days of the HdN, there have been numerous links with HNU scientists, the further development of which is now visible in the joint IECH project, among other things.

Fresh impetus in entrepreneurship: new role models, more inclusion and diversity
As part of the IECH project, various work packages are being carried out, ranging from raising awareness and motivating university members for impact entrepreneurship to developing and piloting specific event formats and communicating the collaboration to the media. Particular attention is paid to overcoming traditional entrepreneurship role models and promoting an inclusive and diverse corporate culture. “Our goal is to establish HNU as an innovation driver and role model in the field of impact entrepreneurship and to bring about sustainable change in society and the economy,” summarizes Prof. Dr. Thomas Bayer.

The knowledge and experience gained in the IECH project will be applied in practice and published in renowned entrepreneurship journals in order to achieve maximum impact. The first points of contact between HNU researchers and the IECH and the HdN have already been identified in a meeting.

Contact person at HNU:
Alexander Warth

IECH-Treffen: Team und HNU Forschende (v.l.n.r. Michael Junger, Ivanka Burger, Prof. Dr. Thomas Bayer, Prof. Dr. Judith Mayer (im Display) Alexander Warth, Martin Schwarz, Prof. Dr. Tobias Krüger, Prof. Dr. Antje Wild, Carina Volk) (Foto: HNU)