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8. July 2021

Start4Chem at Young Entrepreneurs in Science – a personal report

The Falling Walls Foundation forms a unique “hub” that connects science, business and society, in line with their motto “Building bridges and overcoming borders”. Among the diverse offerings of the Berlin-based nonprofit organization its initiative Young Entrepreneurs in Science (YES) offers a wirde range of workshops, primarily addressing PHD’s and Post Docs that aim to show them an alternative career path besides industry and science. The courses address different needs, so the offering goes beyond simply showing potential. In the advanced courses, within the framework of entrepreneurship education, skills are taught that open up new application-oriented perspectives on their research to scientists and thus sensitize them to the topic of start-ups using very personal examples and equip participants with the necessary skills.

Last week, Frederik Lehmann, one of the Start4Chem Startup Coaches, participated in a course of the YES program and will share some insights about participating in the workshop below.

In the online workshop “From PhD to Innovator”, the speakers skillfully managed to take away the fear of the unknown topic of entrepreneurship and starting a business from the group of participants right at the beginning. They showed us the parallels between our own research and the iterative procedure of implementing a start-up project. The related self-reflection of the participants was easy to share in the group, as a certain familiarity was created directly due to the small group size. The two-day course also taught elementary skills that are useful to any entrepreneur at the beginning of his or her journey. Special attention was paid to the presentation of an idea with the simplest means and least complexity. “Rough and Dirty”, a prototype was built by each participant. It was precisely this reduction of complexity that opened up a whole new realm of thought. Also the following pitch training and the pitch in front of a small jury, which had to be created in a very short time, made us present unfinished results and understand that in terms of Lean Startups an early customer contact is elementary.

During the whole workshop I felt challenged but also encouraged and I am sure that such an experience would benefit scientists who want to follow a classical career path in industry or research, as entrepreneurial thinking is required in many areas of industry and can significantly improve interdisciplinary communication.