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Future being built

Topping-out ceremony of the Innovation and Start-up Centre (IGZ)

Illustration of the future IGZ building of the University of Cologne in the Weyertal

The future is being built today - and it is being built at the Weyertal in Cologne, one might add, in light of today's topping-out ceremony of the Innovation and Start-up Centre (IGZ) of the Cologne University Foundation. The 5-storey building will one day be home to the Gateway Excellence Start-up Center (ESC) of the University of Cologne (UzK) and will create optimal conditions for its holistic approach of promoting start-ups from the university and transfer projects in excellent research.

From 2023 in the IGZ, the Gateway ESC will offer start-ups a mix of open working environments, closed home bases and rooms for active breaks in the immediate vicinity of the University of Cologne campus. The IGZ will have a floor space of around 3,000 square metres, with 164 co-working spaces plus 40 so-called touchdown workstations.

Start-ups from the university sector that receive funding from the Gateway ESC can get a desk on the co-working floors for six to twelve months free of charge in the new building and develop companies from their ideas - in exchange with other start-ups, innovative project groups from companies, investors, funding institutions or financial service providers and legal firms that can rent office space in the IGZ. The Gateway ESC provides intensive support to the start-up teams from the very beginning. Founders are advised by coaches and mentors and receive support in applying for funding programmes.

The University, the University Foundation and the Gateway Excellence Start-up Center had jointly invited to the topping-out ceremony. In a festive and productive setting, University Rector Prof. Dr Axel Freimuth welcomed the numerous guests before Henriette Reker, Mayor of the City of Cologne, and Prof. Dr Andreas Pinkwart, former Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, spoke words of welcome. Linda Leers from the architectural firm kadawittfeldarchitektur gmbh presented the building and Marc Kley, Head of Gateway ESC, looked ahead to the future.

Entrepreneurship and the spirit of entrepreneurship are very important at the University of Cologne, and the WiSo faculty in particular is characterised by a start-up-friendly climate that goes beyond research and teaching. The participants were able to see for themselves that this claim is a living reality at the Gateway Excellence Start-up Center by talking to representatives of three selected Gateway start-ups (Anymate Me, Rayny and Werdetnachbarn).

Students interested in starting a business will find a wide range of offers at the Gateway ESC. Last but not least, the Startup Your Idea Contest of the Gateway Excellence Start-up Center of the UzK and the WiSo Faculty has proven to be a nexus for students, academics and alumni who already have an innovative, creative and forward-looking start-up idea. Registration for the fourth round is still possible until 9 October 2022.