A worthy record: 100th spin-off at the TU Chemnitz
A job engine in Saxony: the start-up network SAXEED has generated more than 300 jobs since 2006 – the firm Maiwald Engineering is the most recent example of this success story
Migration and movements of bearing races in wind turbine gearboxes, electric motors or even vehicle transmissions can cause early wear and damaged components. For the operators of such machinery, it provides significant risk and is often means considerable costs. Dr. Andreas Maiwald is the founder of Maiwald Engineering in Chemnitz and is a former employee of the Professorship of Engineering Design at the Technische Universität Chemnitz. Previously, he had devoted himself to the problem of migration of bearing races in heavy-duty applications during his PhD research and managed to achieve a considerable breakthrough in the cause of fatigue in rolling-element bearings. As a result, he was awarded with the Wolfgang-Beitz-prize of the Scientific Society for the best product development. With his outstanding research work, Maiwald laid the foundation for the 100th start-up, having been accompanied throughout the founding process by the start-up network SAXEED at the TU Chemnitz.
Maiwald developed calculation tools for the assessment of ring creep as well as the optimization of the system “Anti-friction bearing/housing or shaft”. “Such calculation tools have been previously available to the industry in the context of research projects, but usually, the attention is focused on the inefficient over dimensioning or conscious calculation of damages,” explains the 33-year-old. “SAXEED helped me create a business plan and secure funding for my spin-off project. As a specialized service provider for simulations, I will now be able to offer my services for design and development departments in the fields of automotive and mechanical engineering,” says Maiwald, who still operates as a one man show.
Insurance for workplaces and regional growth
“Since 2006, the start-up network SAXEED has supervised 369 start-up projects at the TU Chemnitz of which some of them are still in the development process,“ remarks Prof. Dr. Cornelia Zanger, Project Manager of SAXEED. “So far, these 100 successful start-ups represent a broad range of characteristics – from smaller companies operated parallel to full-time study programs up to high-tech projects funded by venture capital,“ she added. More than half of the start-ups from the TU Chemnitz are technology-oriented. In the field of Computer Science and IT, 24 percent of the members of TU Chemnitz become self-employed. According to Prof. Dr. Zanger, trade and technology-oriented enterprise alongside consultancy services are also well represented with 24 or 22 percent. “Especially with consulting firms, not only technical areas such as engineering firms are being represented, but also numerous start-ups in the social sciences,” said the Project Manager.
Start-ups with the highest growth potential can typically be found in more technology-oriented areas; here single companies can have over 30 employees. “Overall, through the activities of SAXEED more than 300 new jobs have been created,” says the Executive Director of SAXEED, Dr. Marc Banaszak. The supervision of technology-driven companies is a challenging task for our founder coaches in the SAXEED team. “The path from research to market is long and complex. If successful, such companies can manage to create demanding jobs and encourage growth in the regional economy,” concluded Dr. Banaszak.
Start-up network SAXEED – a value creation model in Saxony
Prof. Dr. Andreas Schubert, Vice-Rector for Knowledge and Technology Transfer at the TU Chemnitz is pleased with the 100th business creation and track record of SAXEED which was established in 2006. He sees the founding of an engineering firm based on the long-standing academic work of Dr. Maiwald as an ideal example of how knowledge transfer from the university into regional economy can function: “Through the spin-offs from universities, the knowledge gained in research takes its application in practice. Thereby, young entrepreneurs that are emerging from our university overtake an important social role by ensuring growth and workplaces in the region. More than 300 jobs having been created since 2006 is a significant number,” said Schubert.
Therefore, he sees the anchoring of the continuation of the start-up network SAXEED in the higher education development plan as an important signal to declare the commitment of the Technische Universität Chemnitz to its social mission. However, the Vice-Rector is concerned about the funding necessary for the continuation of the project from the European Social Fund and the Saxon State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport: “The Free State of Saxony demands steadily increasing deductibles for university project funding. It continues to remove itself from the financial responsibility required to operate out of Chemnitz at the four universities in Saxony to manage the start-up network SAXEED. At the same time, universities have to bear strong resource constrains given by the State.” From his point of view, it would be more than desirable if the Free State sees training and coaching of entrepreneurs at the universities as a continuous task for the benefit of Saxony and would create a project-independent fund. “According to the founding radar of the Donor`s Association for German Science, TU Chemnitz belongs to one of the Germany`s finest founder universities. Being the only state university in Saxony, TU Chemnitz has become a certified role model in start-up support. This position should not be put at risk because of reduced support of the Free State of Saxony,” said Schubert. Here value creation arises in the truest sense of word.
(Author: Mario Steinebach, Translation: Nataliia Boiko)