From Ludwigshafen to London - My internship at Clustermarket 2020

Felix Franke


In May 2019 I supported the team of the 5-HT Digital Hub for one week at the 5-HT X-Linker Event and had the chance to watch the exciting pitches of the present startups. There I also heard the pitch of Johannes Solzbach (CEO) of Clustermarket from London. After his presentation I also had the chance to exchange a few words with him.

The 5-HT X-linker was an interesting and great event for me - amazingly, after more than a year, all the startups are still vivid in my memory. Furthermore, in this short time I was able to gain an insight into the work of the 5-HT Digital Hub, especially with regard to the implementation of exciting events with international startups.

At the end of 2019 I decided - even though this is not part of my chemistry studies - to do some internships in order to get a better overview of what the working world outside of university looks like. After internships at larger companies, I also wanted to get an insight into the world of startups. I immediately remembered Clustermarket, whose idea and company I found very exciting, so I applied for an internship in Business Development through the 5-HT Digital Hub Team. After some interviews with two of the three founders I was accepted and started my internship in London in March 2020.

Clustermarket is an online marketplace that enables scientists, engineers and other researchers to book, offer and/or internally organize laboratory equipment and services. The basic idea is to increase the utilization of (often expensive) equipment at universities and at the same time to improve the access of start-ups and SMEs to this equipment.

In the Business Development department, I was responsible in particular for the expansion into Germany. In the course of this, I contacted universities, was involved in a successful grant application in NRW and had the chance to work on a few other topics. My working day was dominated by online research and correspondence. This work was supplemented by many meetings and discussions and always remained interesting.

The internship was very instructive and was very different from my experiences at university and in larger companies. Especially impressive was the great work ethic of all employees and the contagious feeling of working towards a common goal. I also really enjoyed working in a "Shared Office Space", which was probably mainly due to the great, international and motivated team of ten people at that time. The opportunity to work on completely new topics was very exciting for me. A lot of emphasis was also placed on personal initiative and the contribution of ideas.

Discussion at the "Scaling-Up synthetic Biology" event (By Sartorius, Science Entrepreneur Club and Clustermarket) in the Shared Office
Discussion at the "Scaling-Up synthetic Biology" event (By Sartorius, Science Entrepreneur Club and Clustermarket) in the Shared Office

Unfortunately, the time in the office due to the COVID-19 pandemic was quickly over and it continued, as for so many, in the home office. All in all, the switch to the home office worked out well and I was still able to learn a lot. Despite the physical separation, the team's work ethic remained the same, even though it was not the same motivating and vibrant experience as in the office.

I am very grateful to Johannes Solzbach, Tobias Wingbermuehle, Niklas Friedberg and the whole team for the time I was allowed to spend at Clustermarket. I really enjoyed it so much that I will now continue with a Master in Bio-Business in London in October instead of the traditional Master in Chemistry following the Bachelor.

I can only recommend taking a look outside your own studies and doing internships, especially in study programs where this is not so common.

Finally, I would also like to thank the 5-HT Digital Hub Team for their support and their great intuition in selecting startups for their events.

Felix Franke

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