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UW’s Jackstädt Center – Focus on interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and innovation research


von / by Prof. Dr. Peter Witt
Board of Management, Jackstädt Center

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The University of Wuppertal has a long tradition of research into entrepreneurship and innovation. With its chosen name of ‘Schumpeter School of Business and Economics’, the Faculty of Economics demonstrates the crucial importance of Joseph Schumpeter’s theories of innovation and entrepreneurship for economics teaching and research at UW. Founded at the university in 2003, the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research was followed in 2011 by the Jackstädt Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research, whose interdisciplinary focus adds significant new strength to an established UW tradition.

The Jackstädt Center enables UW to pursue its dual aim of top level future-oriented research on the one hand and transdisciplinary knowledge transfer, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, on the other. Knowledge transfer here is conceived as a two-way traffic in which the university takes on problems from commerce and industry and applies its knowledge and skills to the development of appropriate solutions.

The establishment of the Jackstädt Center at UW was made possible by the successful acquisition of third-party funding of €1.5 m. over a five year period from the Dr. Werner Jackstädt-Stiftung. This regional private foundation and its initiator enjoy a reputation that reaches far beyond the City of Wuppertal. Dr. h. c. Werner Jackstädt took over Jackstädt GmbH, a fine paper goods wholesalers established by his father, Wilhelm Jackstädt, in Wuppertal in 1921, and built it up to become one of the world’s leading producers of self-adhesive papers and foils (incl. customized products). In 2002 Jackstädt sold his company to the Avery Dennison Corporation and invested part of the proceeds in the foundation that now bears his name. The Jackstädt Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization established in Wuppertal under German private law with the primary purpose of promoting knowledge and research in medicine and economics – in the latter field above all in business economics, with special reference to the work of young researchers in that area. The foundation’s current assets amount to some €180 m.

UW has profited from Jackstädt’s ideals and generosity in the form of two new junior professorships in the Faculty of Economics funded by the Foundation and held since mid 2012 by Prof. Dr. Vivien Procher and Prof. Dr. Diemo Urbig, both of whom have excellent qualifications in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation research. Doctoral students and undergraduate assistants complete the Jackstädt Center team, whose Board of Management consists of four UW professors: Prof. Dr. Christine Volkmann (Chairperson), Prof. Dr. Werner Bönte (Deputy Chairperson), Prof. Dr. Michael Fallgatter (Dean of the Schumpeter School), and Prof. Dr. Peter Witt. An Advisory Board of six experts from the worlds of business, academia, and politics supports the Center in its collaboration with regional enterprises, associations, and decision makers.

However, the Jackstädt Center does not see its fields of research and cooperation as confined to Wuppertal and the surrounding region of the Bergisch Land. Published in renowned journals and presented at key conferences, its research is visible both nationally and internationally, and cooperations with other leading research institutes – e.g. the Universities of St. Gallen (Schweiz), Tilburg (Netherlands), Indiana (USA), and Illinois (Chicago, USA) – create an international network of excellence that benefits both the university and the region of Wuppertal. A new exchange program with Indiana and Tilburg, for example, has added a fresh international aspect to doctoral studies in entrepreneurship.

Current research at Jackstädt is focused on the one hand on the entrepreneur and key decision making processes. Recent studies have shown the extent to which confidence in their personal performance, combined with broad risk appraisal skills, enables people to take the plunge and realize their start-up idea. Here, prior entrepreneurial experience significantly enhances the prospects of further start-up successes. Another important finding is that potential as well as actual entrepreneurs are considerably more interested in the social consequences of their activities than are people who would simply describe themselves as good businessmen and women. Other studies highlight the role played at the national economic level by entrepreneurs whose prime motivation is social improvement, and show how financial models for this sector can be developed along the same lines as those used for businesses launched directly for gain.

The other main focus of research at the Jackstädt Center is innovation management and its success factors. A particular problem here is the impact of financial restrictions on innovation, especially in unlisted medium-sized companies whose R&D budget is generally confined to immediately relevant applications. A Jackstädt study indicates how financial bottlenecks can be compensated in such circumstances. Another question is the significance of patents for successful innovation management. Patents tell potential investors that a technological development has been completed and market success is possible. Yet current research also shows that subsequent failure can have serious consequences in the financial markets. Further research activities concern international aspects of innovation management, especially the international expansion of medium-sized companies with innovative products, and the circumstances in which international operations should be discontinued.

www.jackstaedt.uni-wuppertal.de

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