Technical University of Munich: Software for powerful battery technology

The start-up TWAICE has received the TUM Presidential Entrepreneurship Award in recognition of its research-based entrepreneurial success. The other finalists were Retorio and Capmo. The software products of the three TUM spin-outs facilitate powerful batteries, intelligent staff selection and efficient processes on construction sites.

More than 2000 attendees took part virtually in yesterday’s first full-day Entrepreneurship Day hosted by TUM and UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation. After start-up presentations, workshops and discussions with guests from the private sector and the world of research, TUM presented the Presidential Entrepreneurship Award. Key criteria for the jury were business ideas based on the outcome of research, strong growth potential and initial success in obtaining financing. The award comes with a 10,000 euro cash prize, donated by the Bund der Freunde (Friends of TUM).

First place: TWAICE
The performance of batteries is a decisive factor determining whether renewable energy sources and electric vehicles can be widely used in the future. TWAICE has developed software for the optimization and analysis of lithium ion batteries. The various functions of the product can be used throughout the lifetime of a battery: Companies can improve product development, plan strategies for efficient applications and monitor the condition of batteries in use.

The basis of the technology, which applies machine learning methods, was developed at TUM by founders Dr. Michael Baumann and Dr. Stephan Rohr in their doctoral theses. The establishment of TWAICE in 2018 was supported by TUM and UnternehmerTUM through the XPRENEURS incubator program, among other resources, and with an investment by UVC, the venture capital fund of UnternehmerTUM. TWAICE now has 70 employees.

Second place: Retorio
Even professional managers and HR departments do not always succeed in ignoring their gut feelings about job applicants or such characteristics as age, gender or skin color. Retorio has developed software to bring about a more objective and rapid personnel selection process. In videos, the technology uses artificial intelligence to recognize language, voices and gestures and analyze them using psychologically well-founded models. Applicants can also use the tool to prepare for job interviews.

Dr. Christoph Hohenberger and Dr. Patrick Oehler prepared their start-up as doctoral candidates at the Chair for Strategy and Organization. The TUM Incubator and the UnternehmerTUM Techfounders program helped them to launch the company in 2018. Today Retorio has more than 20 employees.

Third place: Capmo
Construction sites still tend to be underdigitized. This can lead to inefficient processes and higher costs. Capmo has developed software for the digital management of all construction site processes, enabling companies to cooperate seamlessly and extract data on their projects. For the client, the processes are more transparent. Capmo is geared to the needs of mid-sized companies, which make up the majority of construction firms.

The founders Florian Biller, Dr. Patrick Christ, Florian Ettlinger and Sebastian Schlecht first met at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM). This joint institute of TUM and LMU offers a supplementary degree program in which students work in interdisciplinary teams to design new technologies, turn them into real products and prepare to establish companies. The start-up received support from the UnternehmerTUM programs EIT Climate KIC and XPRENEURS, among other sources, as well as funding from UVC. Capmo has around 60 employees.

Ecosystems for innovations
Every year TUM spawns around 80 technology-focused spin-outs. TUM and UnternehmerTUM support start-ups with programs tailored to the various phases of building a business – from creating the business model to management training, and from market entry to a possible IPO. TUM Venture Labs offer an entire research ecosystem for start-up teams working in important scientific fields. Up to 30 teams can use offices in the TUM Incubator to prepare for the launch of their companies. Through its own venture capital fund, UnternehmerTUM invests in tech companies displaying strong potential. Meanwhile, with MakerSpace and the Bio.Kitchen, it provides a 1500 square meter high-tech prototype workshop and biotechnology lab. According to the “Gründungsradar” survey, no major German university provides better support for student start-ups.

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