The research activities of the Chair focus on startups, venture capital financing, the role of trust, innovation and the impact of open borders on innovation and growth.
Crowdinvestment as a New Financing Instrument for Startups
In our initial research we analyzed the eleven so far existing crowdinvesting platforms in Germany and compared usage as well as pitfalls in order to provide a comprehensive overview over the market. To sum up the findings - the market is still young but very fast developing in terms of the business models of the platforms and fast growing in terms of the number of financed projects. How the subscribed shares will develop - which must be held at least three years, if they are losing or winning value - will be shown in 2014, when the first shares are payable.
The crowdinvesting method is currently very successful in the market, but for investors no previous experience can help to calculate expectations. Nevertheless many new crowdinvesting platforms start their business activity. This reflects the need of the founders for new ways to obtain small amounts of money but also the need for investors to invest in times of low credit rates and high economic uncertainty. This shows a characteristic systemical weakness of the German market - the missing financial support especially for small and medium sized startups. Based on the presented paper, further research regarding the financing behavior and the support of startups was accomplished. Together with the German crowdinvesting platform Seedmatch we conducted an online survey among investors with 349 participants, which is currently being published.
Founder's Coaching in Entrepreneurship Education
The research project examines the role of founder's coaching - a cornerstone of public and private entrepreneurship education in Germany. Nascent entrepreneurs have a need for external expertise due to high responsibilities in various management fields. The German market gives manifold support to young entrepreneurs, provided by many different experts like business angels, venture capital investors, business consultants or governmental institutions. Their activities vary widely from counseling to coaching to mentoring. Independent of the future development of a new venture regarding the firm size, a founder has at least in this stage an essential influence on the implementation of routines and processes that foster the competitiveness and the ability to survive. However, there is a direct positive correlation between the abilities, the knowledge, the experience of the founder and the survival of the firm. In the early stage of a venture, where routines and processes are not fixed yet, the founder needs to carefully reflect on future actions in order to develop his/her organization in a way that the makes the venture sustainable. By applying abilities, experiences and knowledge in a special situation in order to solve a problem the founder is using his/her competencies for the benefit of the firm. Especially in the case of nascent entrepreneurs a coach can help the founder to identify and close learning gaps as well as the organization by helping setting a structure and asking strategic questions. The coach essentially supports the building of entrepreneurial and managerial competencies.
Despite the fact that it plays an important role for the support of startups and thus has been financed among others by public money, founder's coaching itself is not regulated in Germany. This means that various institutions, companies and single persons can offer the service, for instance public and private banks, self-employed founder consultants or business incubators. Professional titles like e.g. “Gründercoach” (Founder's Coach) are not lawfully protected and demands as well the professional qualifications are not defined. As a consequence we face an intransparent market structure with widely varying methods, which reduces the comparability. At the same time the founders, who receive suppport in terms of coaching are also a very heterogeneous group, with different life courses and consequently different capabilities and needs.
In conclusion the professional practice of founder's coaching is determined by a wide range of questions addressed by the founders and different methods as an answer from the supporters. During the research we expect to discover advantages and disadvantages, potentials and pitfalls of founder’s coaching and by this contribute to theory development as well as give action recommendations for founders and coaches.
Advisory Boards in Startups
Since entrepreneurs might lack in sufficient capabilities and resources during the early phase of their venture, the efficient utilization of external assets is critical. Besides coaches and consultants institutionalized boards can contribute to overcome entrepreneurial disadvantages of smallness, newness and adolescence or those weaknesses that come along with personal traits of entrepreneurial teams. Theory mainly focuses on boards of directors in (mature) family businesses. Only a few publications deal with advisory boards and virtually none with advisory boards in startups. We want to close this research gap, since those boards have a lot of advantages and first estimations claim that 10 to 20 percent of startups use it.
Internationalization of Hightech Startups
Although Germany is one of the leading countries regarding the export of products and innovations, the internationalization rate of new ventures and SMEs in general is low. Focusing on the hightech industry we aim at finding reasons for this situation. Hightech companies usually internationalize much faster and use different market entry strategies than other industries. In a previous study, we analyzed which resource factors hinder or foster the internationalization process using an empirical data set. We looked at the role of the technology, of the financing and the entrepreneurial team. We found out that neither the financing nor the technology plays a significant role in early internationalization. The results were published in the Thunderbird International Business Review.
Our current research aims at finding out more about the internationalization process itself and on the steps high-tech startups take on their way to internationalization and which barriers they have to overcome. Fist results were presented at the G-Forum in Koblenz, Germany and the 8th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ECIE) in Brussels, Belgium.
Concerning venture capital financing the last decade has seen only a few new research results, mainly because because investors are very strict about the use of their data. Most studies use the same commonly available data set (VentureXpert) or rely on surveys. Both methods lead to a high number of cases but also to a low depth of the data what strictly limits the possible results. We want to further expand the research in venture capital financing by using in-depth data directly collected from the venture capital companies.
Strategic Management in Early Stage Venture Capital Funds
Newly founded technology-based firms (NTBF) in their early stage often require intensive non-financial support in order to cope with existing restrictions and risks. In this stage the additional value created by venture capital funds (VCF) is – apart from covering capital requirements – mainly based on management support and a balanced risk management. So far, empirical academic studies of the early stage financing are mostly cross-sectional and look at a set of investments based just on the notion of the investment manager in charge. There is a lack of longitudinal studies more objectively considering the decisions and characteristics of a set of investments over time. TU Dresden and HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management are doing a joint research project to close this gap. The newness of the approach is to analyze the VCFs’ original deal documentation directly and to survey investment managers and NTBF only regarding those pieces of information, which cannot be found in the VCF files. These files e.g. include business plans, due diligences, investment reports, company reports and evaluation reports by investors.
We have collected data at nine venture capital funds and additional funds will follow. First results of this project were presented at the NRW.Bank in Düsseldorf, on the annual meeting of the German Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVK), at the Business Angels Research Symposium Berlin and at the G-Forum in Koblenz, Germany. The project is kindly supported by the Wissenschaftsförderung der Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (Science Funds of the Savings Banks Finance Group).
Risk Management in Venture Capital Funds
Determining risk and weighing it against potential profits is one of the main tasks of a venture capitalist (VC). We analyze how risk can be measured and which factors influence the risk. Also, we explore which measures a VC can undertake to minimize the risk and which are successful. Our empirical data base enables us to test the findings from the current literature and derive and test new hypotheses. Our findings might help VC companies to better evaluate and manage their invstement risk while and thus lead to more successful investments.
Previous research shows that trust, both within organizations and in inter-organisational settings, may foster innovation. Trust lessens the need for rigid control systems and enables creative thinking. A high level of trust among organizations facilitates the exchange of confidential information by diminishing the risk that one party will use this information to the other’s disadvantage. Trust facilitates social exchange by reducing the need for time consuming and costly monitoring, and therefore makes it possible for people and organisations to devote added time for other beneficial actions and endeavours.
Trust in Open Innovation
Trust has always been at the heart of innovation. However, the concept of open innovation generated a number of new challenges in business relationships such as: decreasing barriers to innovation - building communities around key themes of innovation through increased involvement - widening the base for sources of new ideas from external specialists – users’ involvement in design – networking smaller innovation communities – accelerating the diffusion of ideas, etc. However, the new innovation scenarios require certain trust mechanisms that allow the diffusion of knowledge across organizational boundaries. Therefore, in our research we address questions regarding the “rethought” role of trust in open innovation and the growing importance of different forms of trusted intermediaries.
Trust in Venture Capital Companies and Financing
An investment in a new venture is always based on trust. Although the venture capital (VC) companies conduct a due diligence prior to the investment to evaluate the team and the business idea they also have to put their faith in them. We analyze how trust is build between the VC and the startup company in each investment phase. In our research we focus on how trust is build prior to the investment and after the investment. We look at the dimensions of trust in the team, in the idea, in the integrity of the team and benevolence of the investor. We therefore use a structural equation modeling approach.
Employee Involvement in Innovation
The development of a culture which recognizes and supports widespread employee participation is a main purpose for modern innovative organizations, as well as an established theme in the literature. However, while the concept might seem simple, its implementation in practice poses several challenges. Our research work explores the enablers, disablers and emerging challenges of a sustainable high involvement innovation corporate culture.
New technologies for accelerating high involvement in innovation
New technological tools are regarded as a main enabler of employee involvement. There appears to be significant acceleration in the use of new technologies to enhance the suite of enablers available to implement high involvement innovation. In particular social software and corporate social networks offer great opportunities for better internal networking, collaboration and co-creation of new ideas and innovations. These new technical enablers potentially extend both the ‘reach’ of high involvement programs and also the ‘richness’ of the type of innovation activity engaged upon. Still, much depends on the ways in which implementation of systems deploying these new approaches is undertaken and the development of appropriate behavioral routines to support them.
Employees as user innovators
Seeing innovations generated from employees as user-led innovations has been rarely discussed. In our research, we focus on employees as users of companies’ process innovations and explore the extent to which the landscape for engaging employees as user innovators is changing.
Change Management Through Employee Innovation and Co-creation
Core prescriptions for managing organizational change typically focus on careful preparation and communication throughout a change program. By having the infrastructure for involving employees, organizations enhance the absorptive capacity of employees for change. For example in an organization planning to make a major change to its systems it becomes possible to alert employees quickly and in detail to the plans and to invite their comments and constructive suggestions to shape that change.
Innovation in the Context of Resource Efficiency
Resource efficiency has become increasingly important as a driver of innovation. The German industry has huge potentials to export resource-efficient technologies (cleantech) worldwide and at the same time local companies have to secure their resource supply and to reduce emissions. The energy sector has one key role, since utilities must provide effortable energy from environmental-friendy resources and simultaneously change their business models. In general, this research project focusses on the relationship between innovation and efficiency. In particular, energy utilities are one of the main market participants that struggle to adapt their business models, matching the technological change in energy supply from centralized fossil fuel technologies to decentralized, renewable energies. Several determinants like the technological development, changes on the demand-side and regulation (market liberalization initiated by the EU legislation) brought a growing need to adapt innovation. Seldom smaller utilities such as municipalities introduced an institutionalized and systematic innovation management.
Our goal is to contribute a business perspective through the analysis of innovation and change processes on the basis of several case studies. This allows us both to understand the drivers of innovation and the change strategies of these companies as well as to recommend best-practice examples for management practice.
The R&D process of businesses has changed over many years, moving from technology-centered to a more interaction-focused and globalized view. On the other hand, there has been a parallel shift in the role of universities to become engines of innovation and entrepreneurial hubs. The Deutsche Bank Stiftungsfonds Chair for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship has published several articles and held several presentations on this current topic.
Universities as drivers of innovation
In a highly dynamic environment with new ideas, products, and services coming into the market every day, universities had to develop. Although universities nowadays do not seem very different than their predecessors, their role has dramatically shifted in the last few decades. Their role has developed from being mainly a provider of human resources to being an innovation that transfers knowledge across generations and throughout the global scientific community. Without investigating thoroughly the influence of the developing role of universities on innovation and knowledge flow, a main component in the society’s innovation cycle would remain unclear.
The challenges of science-to-business marketing
A fruitful collaboration between science and business naturally means that each party perceives the outcome of such collaboration beneficial. However, research shows that many universities supply businesses with scientific results and competences that are not equally demanded by businesses. More research is needed to optimize the way in which both sides can best cooperate in the process of knowledge transfer for the welfare of global societies.
Open Borders and the Impact of Innovation
Parallel to the current EU/US-Free trade initiative, the Chair is doing research on the impact of open borders on innovation and growth. This will be shown in the framework of Chesboroughs´ concept of „Open Innovation“. New ideas and inventions and better ways to implement them can be reached by using new forms of partnership, joint ventures, licensing and strategic alliances. The openess and easier access to lowercost and best minds and ideas helps to improve the speed, quality and cost of innovation. Better opportunities of exchange with customers, suppliers and even competitors enables the laws of comparative advantage over all parts of the supply chain to drive the efficient allocation of R&D resources. First results have been presented on a recent international conference in Washington. A corresponding paper will be published soon together with colleagues from Georgetown University.