TH Köln, the University of Cologne and Deutsche Telekom open the Co:Creation Lab

Deutsche Telekom

Good news for Cologne’s students and start-up founders: the 5G Co:Creation Lab, housed at TH Köln’s Mülheim location, has been inaugurated.

The Lab was officially opened by Professor Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, North Rhine-Westphalia’s State Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy, by Claudia Nemat, Member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management, Technology and Innovation, and by representatives of cooperating partners TH Köln and the University of Cologne’s GATEWAY Exzellenz Start-up Center.
Pinkwart welcomed Deutsche Telekom’s initiative for the project, noting that “we want to take a leading role in 5G technology. And the Co:Creation Lab fits perfectly with this aim. We need places like this at which start-up founders can develop innovative ideas in a creative environment.”

“We want to use the Co:Creation Lab, which is part of the “TechCluster NRW” initiative, to promote innovation in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The current situation in which we all find ourselves has been reminding us that good network access and digital participation are essential resources. And 5G is a key technology that is becoming ever more important in this context. With its low network latency and high bandwidth, it will open the door to new worlds of experience in the areas of education, entertainment, mobile working and industry. We have equipped the Co:Creation Lab with state-of-the-art 5G network technology. As a result, this technology of tomorrow has become available to start-up founders today, for development of new products in cooperation with innovators at universities, in industry and in the start-up-founder ecosystem. In sum, the Co:Creation Lab will give Cologne’s start-up sector a true competitive advantage,” Nemat added.

A living ecosystem that promotes entrepreneurship

The Lab will be a center for cooperation between universities and companies. And it will be open both to the 100,000 students at Cologne’s universities and to entrepreneurs throughout the region and the state of NRW.

At the Lab, university-based start-up founders will have exclusive opportunities to cooperate with industrial partners in testing and refining their ideas within a new, state-of-the-art 5G network. The soccer club 1. FC Köln, for example, plans to support the Lab by providing research topics of strategic relevance and by testing early-phase solutions in its own operating environment.

Overall, the Lab is expected to explore a wide range of projects, with focuses such as the following: Systems for guiding robots safely through factories. City-tour systems using augmented reality to provide additional information, overlaid within viewing devices, about real-world objects. Systems for virtual soccer-goal-shooting contests in which players can face off against favorite soccer stars. And, and, and …

This year, Cologne’s universities were very successful in their cooperative efforts to promote entrepreneurship and start-ups. In particular, close cooperation between TH Köln and the University of Cologne has given a special boost to the Cologne region’s start-up sector. Together with Cologne’s other universities, and with hochschulgründernetz cologne e.V. (hgnc), an association that provides expert advising for would-be start-up founders, TH Köln coordinates the “Fit for Invest” project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) EXIST – University-Based Business Start-Up project framework. In Fit for Invest, the participating universities are jointly promoting entrepreneurship and start-ups in Cologne, and coordinating their various efforts in the process – for example, they have been moving to consolidate their start-up-related services.

Also, a “Code & Context” degree program at TH Köln is training students in areas of coding, design and entrepreneurship relative to the development of digital products.

In addition, Cologne’s start-up sector has been receiving additional support, since last year, from the University of Cologne’s GATEWAY Excellence Start-up Center (ESC). The GATEWAY ESC is funded by North Rhine-Westphalia’s State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy. With these efforts, the University of Cologne is now supporting both a) start-ups that emerge from the university and b) a culture of entrepreneurial ideas and action. The ESC offers coaching for start-ups, advising on available funding, incubator space, and an accelerator program.

Also, eight new professorships with an entrepreneurial orientation are being established in the ESC framework, in a total of four academic departments, along with a broad program of instruction and events.

In addition to participating in the Co:Creation Lab, the GATEWAY ESC plans to cooperate with Deutsche Telekom in sponsoring a range of hackathons and workshops aimed at promoting technological innovation among students and young entrepreneurs seeking to launch start-ups. As a result, teams of young start-up founders will have early access to the technical tools and professional resources they need for technology-based start-up projects.

“The close cooperation between the University of Cologne, TH Köln and other Cologne universities, in the area of entrepreneurship, is oriented to the ambitious goal of making Cologne and the “Rhineland Valley” a leading region for start-ups. Their Co:Creation Lab joint project, housed at TH Köln, is another noteworthy step on our journey toward that goal, a journey we are undertaking in collaboration with Deutsche Telekom and business partners such as 1. FC Köln. We heartily thank these partners for their support, and we are eagerly looking forward to the many innovative projects and start-ups that will emerge from this partnership,” noted Professor Dr. Kai Thürbach, professor for entrepreneurship and Cologne universities’ representative in the Fit for Invest team, on the occasion of the inauguration.

“5G is an important new technology, and our students can hardly wait to start working with partners here in developing prototypes based on exciting innovations,” said, Professor Dr. Matthias Böhmer, professor of computer science at TH Köln, and head of the Code & Context degree program.

“The 5G Co:Creation Lab will further strengthen Cologne’s position as a center for start-ups, and it will offer Cologne’s 100,000 students the opportunity to apply this new technology in their knowledge-based start-up projects,” explained, Professor Dr. Rainer Minz, member of the executive board of the Gateway Excellence Start-up Center.

“This year, Cologne’s universities were very successful in their cooperative efforts to promote entrepreneurship and start-ups. Close cooperation between TH Köln and the University of Cologne, in particular, has given the Cologne region’s start-up sector a special boost. In cooperation with Cologne’s other universities, and the hochschulgründernetz cologne e.V. support network, and via programs such as “Fit for Invest,” and the Co:Creation Lab, we plan to work with Deutsche Telekom to help make Cologne and the “Rhineland Valley” a leading region for start-ups. Recalling Germany’s historic “Gründerzeit” (“founders’ period”) of economic expansion, we want to ring in a new era for start-ups in Cologne, and together we are providing the necessary framework for it!” informed, Professor Dr. Kai Thürbach, professor for business management and entrepreneurship at TH Köln.

“5G technology will have a great impact on the entertainment sector, including professional soccer. For us, as a Cologne-based soccer club, it makes great sense to work with partners here in Cologne on real-world 5G solutions and to test them in our own operating environment. We are greatly looking forward to this collaboration, and we are happy to have this opportunity to actively support the start-up sector in Cologne and in the state of NRW,” said, Alexander Wehrle, managing director of 1. FC Köln.