30 companies, established ones an start-ups alike, were invited to a “Summer Evening of Innovations” to Hannover. The Secretary for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport of Lower Saxony, Olaf Lies, was interested in the innovation culture, innovation funding and innovation hindrances local companies face in Lower Saxony. This event, which was organized this way for the first time by the Ministry for Economic Affairs, brought together a multidisciplinary pool of companies for the Secretary to learn from.
Surprisingly an old acquaintance of MiCROW, Mario Leupold from the Innovation Centre Lower Saxony, who organized the Prototyping Party in Oldenburg some time ago, moderated the event at Kastens Hotel Luisenhof, Hannover. The evening started with a small exercise for the guests: Write down an interest related to innovation, which all representatives at one table share. Five buzzwords were generated by the audience and mused about by the Secretary elucidating the Ministry’s strategies and approaches.
The innovation culture of the participating companies was discussed table-wise in a relaxed manner. The Secretary changed tables frequently and introduced himself with a pointed question to the discussion round. At table four, where MiCROW was represented by its CEO Manuel Mikczinski, cross-innovation and cross-communication were conferred. A member of the Lower Saxony Ministry for Economic Affairs took part in the discussions. The evening was seasoned by additional bites of information provided by the Innovation Centre Lower Saxony as well as the Industry and Technology Unit of the Lower Saxony Ministry for Economic Affairs.
Innovation grants and funding sources, as well as support in business-related topics, are important topics with MiCROW, significantly influencing our innovation cycle. Often, start-ups are treated like well-established and well-running companies, which can provide solid key performance indicators. This results in funding ratios of 35 to 45% at best. For technology-oriented start-ups this is by far too little. It would be unusual for a start-up to provide 65% or more of an anticipated innovative project because especially in the starting phase the start-ups lack turnover or the idea is very cost-intense. Entrepreneurs from science-related start-ups also generally cannot provide reserve funds. Classic financing of such projects is out of question, too, because of the high requested collaterals. There is obviously plenty of leeway for politics to change and improve this situation. Treat young start-ups as research institutes, for example, and support them with 100% funding rate. Even if this cannot be granted as direct costs, it could be treated like a loan in innovation. It seems even possible to tie the funding ratio to turnover or so-far life-time of the company to improve the innovation cycle.
MiCROW is really gateful for the opportunity to participate in such an event and the discussions with Secretary Lies and the fellow companies. It was a pleasure to learn more about the different actors on the innovation stage and we recommend to carry on with this cross-cummunication.