US magazine Forbes has published a list of outstanding achievers in science and healthcare under the age of 30. On the top 30 Under 30 Europe list are four entrepreneurs whose start-ups have received or are currently receiving support from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Sinan Denemec (26), David Fehrenbach (27) and Moritz Knoblauch (27) are working on getting their healthcare company iuvas off the ground at the TUM Entrepreneurship Center and TUM graduate Alexander Rinke (26) is a manager at IT company Celonis.
Sinan Denemec, David Fehrenbach and Moritz Knoblauch came up with their bright idea at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Denemec was working as a nurse at the time, and the three friends fell into a discussion about how difficult the very lifeblood of the festival must be for many patients and elderly people, namely drinking from a glass. The process of lifting your arm, bending your forearm and tilting your head back while slowly drinking the contents of a glass must be agony for the elderly, or for Parkinson’s patients for example, they reasoned.
Fehrenbach and Knoblauch were studying mechanical engineering with a focus on medical technology at TUM, and so they approached the problem from a technical angle. The team developed a kind of pouch made of silicone which is set into a glass and fastened to the rim. When a drink is poured into the pouch, it can stretch right down to the bottom of the glass. When the person starts to drink, the pouch moves dynamically in line with the remaining contents in the glass – so the liquid always rises to the top of the glass. In this way, the drinker can easily empty their glass without having to tilt their head back or overly extend their arm.
From bootcamp to incubator
The trio’s idea and approach won over the Forbes jury for the 30 Under 30 Europe contenders for science and healthcare, composed of researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the Max Planck Society and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Years ago, the business magazine decided to make a feature of finding outstanding young people under the age of 30 with the achievements and potential to shape the future. Having previously focused on the USA, Forbes has now published its first 30 Under 30 list for Europe.
Sinan Denemec, David Fehrenbach and Moritz Knoblauch are currently preparing for the launch of their company iuvas at TUM’s Entrepreneurship Center. This incubator service provides facilities for a number of teams to plan their start-ups. The entrepreneurs can also avail of a comprehensive support program from TUM and UnternehmerTUM GmbH under the same roof – extending from start-up consultation services through the high-tech MakerSpace workshop to various other workshops such as the MedTech Bootcamp, which is where the iuvas team developed their business idea. The Entrepreneurship Center is also home to TUM economics researchers who are specializing in the study of entrepreneurship. This allows researchers and budding entrepreneurs to learn from each other on a daily basis.
Germany’s fastest growing technology company
Alexander Rinke has already enjoyed the benefits of this comprehensive start-up support. Following his mathematics studies at the École polytechnique in Paris and at TUM, he was employed by reinsurance company Munich Re and by a fund at first. In 2011, he founded Celonis with fellow TUM graduates Martin Klenk (informatics) and Bastian Nominacher (Finance and Information Management). The team developed process mining software, which allows companies to analyze, visualize and improve their day-to-day business processes. Today, Celonis is not only the global market leader in process mining but, according to consulting firm Deloitte, also the fastest growing technology company in Germany. This was enough for Forbes to include 26-year-old Rinke in its 30 Under 30 Europe list. His role at Celonis involves supporting strategic key accounts and further developing the technology.
The Celonis team has received support from TUM’s start-up consultation service and funding from an EXIST start-up grant, under which the university provides a mentor and a number of workstations. The entrepreneurs are still in touch with various institutes today. Rinke is supporting start-ups as a business angel and, along with his colleagues, he is involved in various entrepreneurship and career guidance programs at TUM. These alumni have become role models for students considering founding their own company.
For this reason, TUM presented its Presidential Entrepreneurship Award to Celonis in 2015. Endowed with EUR 10,000, this award is part of TUM’s entrepreneurship strategy, through which the university strives to motivate students and academics to become entrepreneurs. Since 1990, more than 700 companies currently providing some 14,000 jobs have been founded from the TUM springboard. According to the latest “Start-up Radar” published by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft – the business community’s innovation agency for German science – TUM supports start-ups better than any other major university.