As part of a new series, we present here the premises and other services offered by our shareholders and cooperation partners in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region with whom we work together in a spirit of trust.
For technology-oriented startups, the TZL – Regionales Innovationszentrum Ludwigshafen provides both suitable infrastructure and extensive support to help them successfully set up their own business. One focus is on startups in the chemical sector, which the TZL links up with suitable companies as part of the chem2biz initiative. But also technologically innovative start-ups from other areas find room to grow in the TZL. As one of the shareholders of 5-HT, the Ludwigshafen Innovation Centre is committed to promoting startups in the fields of digital chemistry and digital health, among others. The cooperation is also close in terms of space, as 5-HT is itself located in the CTA. In this interview Michael Hanf, managing director of the TZL and project manager of chem2biz, gives an insight into the manifold offers for startups at his innovation center and the Ludwigshafen site.
What is the TZL?
The TZL, the Regional Innovation Center Ludwigshafen, offers support for technology-oriented, innovative business startups. The focus is on scientific and technical startups, especially in the field of chemistry. In recent years, however, we have also specifically addressed startups in the creative, cultural, health and energy industries, provided that they pursue a technologically innovative approach. The TZL is supported by the Ministry of Economics of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and the City of Ludwigshafen. Our building in Ludwigshafen-Mundenheim, which is located directly next to the University of Applied Sciences, was completed in 1994. Since its renovation in 2015, we have expanded our content spectrum in view of our role as a regional innovation center, in order to address not only chemical startups but also young founders from other areas.
What offers are available at the TZL for startups?
Our range of services includes leasing, services, consulting and networking. Our office space – 50 different rental rooms on a total of 1700 m² – can be rented for one to eight years and can be flexibly expanded as required. For prospective company founders, we offer reduced-rent office space, so-called incubator rooms, for three to six months in the pre-foundation phase. In addition to the offices themselves, the TZL also has an infrastructure for joint use with seminar and meeting rooms and office equipment. Recently we have also been able to provide chemical-physical and physical laboratories. The existing laboratory space has already been rented, but there are other rooms that could in principle be converted into laboratory space by arrangement. With a service contract, start-ups can use the above-mentioned spaces and additional central services such as mail acceptance and reception.
In addition, startups have the opportunity to obtain advice from us, whereby we can also call in external consultants on a case-by-case basis. Frequently, the consulting services include the preparation of a business plan, the elaboration of the corporate strategy, financing and public relations. The TZL also has the project management of the chem2biz initiative, which was launched by BASF SE, the City of Ludwigshafen and the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Economics to support chemical-related company startups in Ludwigshafen. Within the framework of chem2biz, we have already managed 40 startup projects – only last year, 7 new ones were added. For chem2biz, we also organize workshops on various topics from the chemical industry to highlight cross-innovation potential between startups, SMEs and corporations. This has already resulted in several cooperations with industry for our startups. As far as our activities within the framework of chem2biz are concerned, we see great potential for even stronger cooperation with 5-HT in the future. We also promote exchange and collaboration between the different startups in the TZL.
At the TZL we are also very well networked regionally and have extensive knowledge of where our startups can turn for further support. For example, we are part of the Startup Campus Ludwigshafen network, which provides information on its internet platform about various offers and activities for young founders. In Ludwigshafen, startups have many opportunities that are often unknown. For example, the Wissensfabrik is based here, which offers a mentoring program for startups. In addition, we can recommend numerous contact points for financing to our startups. For example, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Economics has set up the startup innovativ program for start-ups with digital business ideas. The Innovation Fund Rhineland-Palatinate (ISB) provides support for startups looking for venture capital. In addition, young founders from Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland have the opportunity to present their project on the crowdfunding network Ideenwald. We are happy to draw the attention of our startups to these and other financing offers.
What are the particular strengths of the TZL?
With our comprehensive range of services, which is based on many years of experience, we can offer our startups very good, needs-based support, which significantly increases their chances of success. Thanks to chem2biz and our proximity to BASF, we have a special focus on the chemical industry and offer an excellent network for startups in this sector, which has already resulted in numerous cooperations with companies. In addition, we are very well informed about the various funding and financing offers that startups can take advantage of at the Ludwigshafen site. People are often amazed at the variety of offers available here. We are always happy to point out to our startups what support options they can find right on their doorstep.
What success stories does the TZL look back on?
Schäfer Additivsysteme GmbH, which is located only a few minutes away from the TZL, has been successful in the production of chemical additives for several years. Alpha Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, which offers engineering services for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry and has experienced all stages of growth in the TZL from its foundation, has now also found a new location in Ludwigshafen. Another of our former start-ups, the software developer iCADA GmbH, has also remained in Ludwigshafen after moving out of the CTA. The most recent case is iDTRONIC, a company that develops RFID readers. After being located at the TZL for many years, it has now erected its own building in the immediate vicinity, where it moved at the end of May. The IT service provider opendynamic has found new spaces in Mannheim, and anapur AG, which specializes in IT security in industry, is now based in Frankenthal. As soon as our startups have established themselves enough to move out of the TZL, we are always happy if they want to stay in Ludwigshafen or in the region and are happy to support them in finding a suitable location.