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First your studies, then a permanent job with an existing company? This is no longer every graduate’s dream. More and more students, graduates and scientists have ideas that they would like to realise themselves, and dare to take the path towards self-employment. The University of Cologne would like to support this endeavour. The Gateway Exzellenz Start-up Center of the University of Cologne was therefore created as a contact point for everyone from Cologne’s universities who is interested in setting up their own business and who is considering self-employment and the idea of setting up their own company.

Interview with WiSo-Transferscout Nicolas Meier, Gateway Excellence Start-up Center

„Today’s Ideas. Tomorrow’s Impact.“

Dr. Nicolas Meier has been employed as transfer scout for the WiSo Faculty at the Gateway Exzellenz Start-up Center (ESC) since July 2020. There are a total of six transfer scouts working together across the board at five faculties of the University of Cologne. As a transfer scout, Nicolas tracks down innovative start-up ideas of researchers, teachers and students and helps to realize them in cooperation with the ESC in the future. His activities are one of many measures and activities that support our claim "Today's Ideas. Tomorrow's Impact." to come alive and to fulfill the faculty's strategic goals.

Dear Nicolas, you have recently become a transfer scout for the WiSo faculty. What do you find particularly appealing about your new tasks?

I am currently particularly interested in developing and implementing formats for scientists in the future, in which ideas can be developed together on how to turn research results and scientific expertise into innovative transfer and start-up ideas. The Gateway Exzellenz Start-up Center is funded by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and aims to promote and establish a cross-faculty entrepreneurial culture at the University of Cologne in the long term. This broad support makes the Gateway ESC a large and highly exciting project for me. I am very excited to be part of the Gateway team and even more so to contribute to my faculty as an alumnus. There are so many exciting formats that are intended for a broad audience, such as the start-up idea competition, which this time will be a hybrid event, or the "Strategic Business Toolkit", an online lecture developed by my colleague Benedikt Gerdes. As an organization, we therefore also have good and digital answers to the challenges of this so-called Corona Age. For example, the seminar for social scientists in the bachelor's degree program "Business Founder: Using Social Science Knowledge and Skills for (Social) Entrepreneurship" by Dr. Joël Binckli and Yannik Fleer is also completely new this semester.

You also studied at the WiSo faculty. Would you have ever dreamed back then that you would return to the WiSo for such an exciting job after your doctorate? Why did you decide to study at the WiSo faculty back then?

I didn't know until recently that such a job even existed. I came to the WiSo faculty for my Master's degree in order to be able to fully dedicate myself to the main focus of Behavioral and Experimental Economics. The WiSo-Faculty was and is simply the absolute leader in this field. I already knew then that I wanted to write my doctoral thesis in this area. The Master's program at the WiSo faculty gave me exactly the skills and knowledge I needed to successfully complete my doctorate. I conducted experimental research in the laboratory both in my master's thesis and during my doctorate. Especially during my doctoral studies, I dealt with the questions why people refuse vaccinations against avoidable infectious diseases and with which interventions one can successfully increase vaccination rates in society. During this time I was able to work on enormously practical and socially relevant research questions - and that was even before Corona. That's when I felt how much pleasure it gives me when my own research has such high potential for possible practical application.

Early on during my doctorate, I began to think about what was to come after that - for example, a career in science or an employment contract in business or the public sector? As a transfer scout for the WiSo faculty, I would like to apply for another career option for doctoral students: to become a founder from science. The following question is central: How can new ideas and business models arise from your own scientific expertise and research?

The new claim of the WiSo faculty is "Today's ideas. Tomorrow's impact.". What do you think the slogan means for WiSo in general and how do you connect it with your work?

I am very happy about the new slogan. For me, it is rightly a very self-confident statement and the clearly formulated claim that we at the WiSo faculty want to help shape the world of tomorrow.

This is where the ideas are born that have the potential to generate impact and meet challenges in the future. This is exactly where my work begins: I would like to support the faculty in precisely this transfer from research to society. A foundation is one of the many ways to ensure that this transfer of knowledge and technology is successful.

Have you already been approached with "ideas"? Can you already report on "effects"?

The large number of conversations I have already had indicate to me that there are an incredible number of brilliant ideas in my head. Some transfers are already taking place at the faculty, there is a great potential lying dormant that needs to be encouraged and supported. In any case, I am happy about great new ideas, the opportunity to change our society and economy for the better.

What do you wish for the future cooperation with the WiSo faculty?

In the future, I would like to develop and carry out creative formats for interested scientists to explore together how their own research and expertise could be transferred into practical application. This is highly exciting and often not so obvious to answer ad hoc. Depending on the assignment and objectives, methods such as Design Thinking or Effectuation can be used to help creativity take off. If some curious scientists feel addressed now and will soon approach me, I would be very happy.

Thank you very much for the interview, dear Nicolas. We wish you good luck for your further transfer and innovation scouting and the cooperation with the WiSo faculty.

If you have ideas and need support in their further development and implementation, please contact Nicolas Meier directly:

Short introduction Dr Nicolas Meier:

Dr Nicolas Meier studied economics at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne and received his doctorate from RWTH Aachen University in 2019. The topic of his doctoral thesis was the experimental research of behavioral and political interventions to increase vaccination rates. After graduation, Nicolas Meier worked as a management consultant and is now responsible for the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences as a transfer scout in the Gateway Excellence Start-up Center since July 2020.