Michael Hanf: chem2biz – A network for new ideas and cross-innovation

chem2biz is a joint initiative of BASF SE, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the city of Ludwigshafen. The project management has been based at the TechnologieZentrum Ludwigshafen am Rhein GmbH (TZL) / Regionales Innovationszentrum Ludwigshafen since 2004. This collaborative effort is aimed at company start-ups and at existing small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in the chemicals industry, nanotechnology, new materials, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, environmental technology and process technology.

Powered by the TZL Regionales Innovationszentrum Ludwigshafen. chem2biz contacts at the TZL serve as a contact point for company start-ups and young entrepreneurs from the chemicals-based sectors. Here, they obtain advice and support at their start-up stage on issues such as:

•    business plans
•    financing and funding instruments
•    corporate strategy
•    press and PR
•    innovation and growth management
•    technology transfer
•    networking

Together with entrepreneurs, the Centre develops solutions for meeting capital requirements. Under certain conditions, funding instruments from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the Investment and Economic Development Bank of the Rhineland-Palatinate GmbH (ISB) can be integrated into the financial planning. In addition, information is available on other options for funding and support. Rent-reduced offices, training and meeting rooms and office services can also be provided.
Synergies and Contacts. At TZL events such as the “InnoTreff” (Innovation Meeting), information is provided on current issues for technology companies and contacts with other companies can be made. The Regional Innovation Centre has numerous connections, such as with the W.E.G. Wirtschafts­EntwicklungsGesell­schaft Ludwigshafen am Rhein mbH (a business development company) and with the IMG Innovations-Man­age­ment GmbH. It maintains good relations with sector-­specific networks, industry associations and institutions such as the Wissensfabrik (Knowledge Factory) and the High-Tech Gründerfonds (Start-up Fund). If desired, companies can be included in chem2biz’ PR work.

The city of Ludwigshafen am Rhein is an internationally well-known chemicals location with excellent perform­ance in industrial research and production. The chemicals industry in Ludwigshafen has a long tradition. TZL and BASF started the chem2biz initiative in order to continually strengthen the location. The Ludwigshafen location also offers premises and attractive options for companies and space over and above the start-up and growth-stages. As a municipal business development centre, W.E.G. WirtschaftsEntwicklungs­Gesellschaft mbH offers advice, land and rental space for a seamless transition to a permanent existence at the location.

chem2biz and the TechnologieZentrum Ludwigshafen are part of the European Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region. This region has set itself the aim of becoming one of the most attractive and competitive regions in and is positioning itself as a unique triumvirate of innovative business, brilliant science and extremely high quality of life.

Cross-Innovation. With the right mix of players, innovations can develop or achieve technological breakthroughs, including multi-­sectoral and across a range of technology fields.

chem2biz uses this approach to offer a platform in Ludwigshafen for demonstrating the potential for cross-­innovation in the chemicals industry, providing incentives for cooperative efforts and considering in which cases chemicals can be effective as enablers for new value and innovation process chains. Cross-innovation is the transfer of solutions to other sectors and the use of innovations in related fields of technology. Ideally, this occurs as part of inter-sectoral cooperation schemes. This may cause new value chains. chem2biz is positioning itself as a theme-oriented competence network.

In workshops for companies, discuss joint areas of co­operation for inter-sectoral cooperative possibilities and new projects both for chemicals-oriented start-ups, other start-ups, established companies, institutions and networks. It addresses problems for which the chemicals industry could offer interesting solutions and seeks innovations, which might help solve challenges in the chemicals industry, such as solutions from the IT sector which might be applied to the chemicals industry.

Cooperative efforts by established companies with start-ups especially make sense if an individual partner is not able to fulfil customer requirements. In the process, the parties have to bear in mind both technical solutions and marketing.

The aims of chem2biz are: improving networking bet­ween players, providing incentives for bilateral inter-­company negotiations and negotiations with representatives of networks, clusters, institutions, universities and colleges and research centres with a view to providing possible cooperation in new projects and to accelerate ongoing projects. The processes are intended to be interlinked at the edge of technologies.

chem2biz thus helps accelerate chemical-industry-related innovations successfully and rapidly.

Michael Hanf
As project leader at the Steinbeis Transfer Centre from 1998 to 2005, Michael Hanf worked chiefly on technology-oriented company start-ups, innovation financing, funding, developing business plans, evaluating company and industrial rights and preparing market and technology studies for financial institutes. He has been project manager at the TZL-TechnologieZentrum Ludwigshafen am Rhein GmbH since 2005, authorised company officer with commercial power of attorney at TZL GmbH since February 2009 and managing director of TZL GmbH since January 2011.