Transformation and Responsible Entrepreneurship

We currently face the need of profound changes in our economy and our way of living. We realize that the way in which we generated wealth and progress will be transformed. Many limits become visible, and most of them have to do with finite capacities of waste disposal – be it the capacity of our atmosphere to absorb carbon dioxide and other human generated waste gases or the capacity of our oceans to absorb plastic without destroying precious biological ecosystems.

Technical progress is one of the drivers that may lead to a positive change. Entrepreneurship is a mechanism by which society converts technical information into products and services and transforms new scientific insights and inventions into tangible innovations. At a research university, technology entrepreneurship plays a significant role to promote this process. It attracts and trains the next generation entrepreneurs that can contribute with creativity and initiative to this change.

Research in entrepreneurship can create knowledge and methods to support entrepreneurs on their way. Often enough the process from a discovery to its application is not straightforward, but needs people that are well trained and that have a sound understanding of the challenges they face and a validated set of frameworks and instruments that help them to act responsibly.

This sets the agenda of entrepreneurship research, innovation and teaching at the KIT. In a design science manner, we seek for new artefacts – methods, frameworks, workshop formats, tools, software – that support entrepreneurs. These artefacts are designed to help entrepreneurs with their challenges and tasks.

As we know that the entrepreneur-opportunity-nexus is essential, we start with the people or the teams and their respective values and competences. We then support them with methods for identifying a value proposition. This transition is key in particular for technology entrepreneurs, as it transforms a scientific or technical insight into something that is of worth and value for people or organizations. And then we support them to create a first idea how a new venture could produce and deliver this value in a reliable manner.

If you want to launch something new, you will face risks. You will need partners to support you despite these risks. One important kind of partners are investors. They provide the venture capital that allows you to prepare and undertake the exploration. It is an exploration of new possibilities that go beyond the known. One critical aspect is related to the interaction with these investors. What determines their decision? And what determines the price they are willing to pay for buying some share of the new venture?

Other questions are related to finding applications of new knowledge. Technology transfer often requires a dedicated process that takes an invention into a variety of application domains and explores the possibilities. Analytical steps are combined with creativity techniques and semi-structured selection processes to identify new potential value propositions.

Finally, responsibility also plays a key role. The concept of ‘responsible innovation’ has become an integral part in the thinking of many entrepreneurs and innovation researchers. Impact investors select ventures according to criteria like the UN Sustainability Goals. Loyalty of customers and team members depends on the question whether the entire vision for the product and the company meets certain ethical standards. The KIT has created an ‘Academy of Responsible Research, Teaching and Innovation ‘(ARRTI), which brings together reflective competence, entrepreneurship and responsible innovation.

References:

Terzidis, Orestis; Vogel, Leonid (2018): A Unified Model of the Technology Push Process and Its Application in a Workshop Setting. In André Presse, Orestis Terzidis (Eds.): Technology Entrepreneurship: Insights in New Technology-Based Firms, Research Spin-Offs and Corporate Environments. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 111–135.

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