In our last Blogpost we introduced Jacques Hefti, one of the two co-directors of STARTUP CAMPUS. This time, we turn to Dr. Matthias Hölling, the second face behind this organization. He was also happy to talk to us and answer our questions. Here are some interesting insights into expertise, collaboration, background knowledge, concepts, and the future of STARTUP CAMPUS.
How did you get into STARTUP CAMPUS?
For almost ten years, I’ve been working at the technology transfer office at ETH Zurich looking after the interests of researchers wanting to present their findings to the market. In particular, I’ve been supporting ETH spin-off companies for the past five years. When I came to Technopark Zurich two years ago, I was delighted to be made a co-director of Startup Campus.
How does cooperation between the two locations at Zurich and Winterthur work? What know-how is made available?
The Winterthur site is strong on the conceptual points of entrepreneurship education. I’ve only had basic training as an instructor, and Technopark doesn’t have a comprehensive school operation. However, Technopark Zurich does offer an extensive network of coaches and technical specialists. With my technical-scientific background, I am often in a position to assess the technology behind a startup project. In this respect, we complement each other very well. Currently, Winterthur has overall responsibility for the conception and implementation of the Business Concept module, while here in Zurich I’m responsible for the content and design of the Business Creation and Business Growth modules. I benefit a lot from the support of the course managers who together shape the two modules and keep them up to date.
What about the consortium which is involved in Startup Campus?
The consortium consists of the three course providers: Startfeld, ZHAW SML, and Technopark Zurich. Also, many other partners support us in the conception and implementation of training courses. Our aim is for all major stakeholders in the region to work together to make entrepreneurship training a reality for participants.
What makes STARTUP CAMPUS unique to you? Why do you believe in the concept?
The three modules are positioned between the teaching of general content and individual coaching. Founders of businesses go through certain stages and therefore require specific input in certain situations. For a start, individual coaching can’t be organized for such a large number of startups and, at the same time, it is important to hear several opinions on the complex issues surrounding the establishment and development of startups without confusing the founders. This can be guaranteed and covered by the individual modules.
How does the future look for STARTUP CAMPUS?
We are focused on continuity and hope to be able to provide all three modules in the long term. However, this depends on funding from the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), which subsidizes the courses. In general, however, we are always developing the courses and adapting them to the needs of startups. Currently, we are working on a minor revision to the Business Creation module.
Do you always agree about the courses offered or are there sometimes heated discussions between the two co-directors?
If we always had the same opinion, that would probably mean we were going nowhere. In addition to the courses themselves, there is a relatively complex administration system with coach dispositions, etc. going on in the background at three different locations. This isn’t always easy, but we get there. Despite or perhaps because of these discussions, working together is great fun!
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