Jump to contentJump to search

Research focus

Manchot Graduate School Competence Center

„Competitiveness of young companies“

Competence Center Strategic Entrepreneurship

The Competence Center Strategic Entrepreneurship of the Manchot Graduate School covers in particular the strategic management of resources in young companies. For startups in particular, it is a major challenge to gain access to resources that are necessary for the company's growth. This includes smart people who support the founding team, but also infrastructure and contacts to suppliers, potential customers or investors.

A more recent practical example of the rapid corporate development of a German startup is provided by Dr. Oetker's acquisition of the beverage and food delivery service Flaschenpost, which was only founded in 2016. The takeover sum of around one billion euros alone shows the relevance of such fast-growing startups for the German economy. The success story of BioNTech also shows the great importance that young innovative companies can have for society, especially in times of crisis, if resources are strategically managed and mobilized and deployed at the right time to exploit opportunities. Here, the collaboration with Pfizer in vaccine development in 2021 resulted in a gain for BioNTech of approximately 10 billion euros. Such phenomena offer high research potential in the field of strategic entrepreneurship to show how young companies can manage to position themselves successfully as takeover candidates or cooperation partners within a short period of time.

Strategic entrepreneurship also includes the creation of competitive advantages and, in a broader sense, the development of assets and jobs. This is achieved, for example, through business model innovation and creative monetization as well as through inventiveness and internationalization, which bring with them the potential for value creation and performance enhancement. Strategic human resources and innovation management also play a special role here. A recent research project of the Graduate School by Yasmina Lichtinger, Vincent Göttel and Andreas Engelen deals in this respect with heterogeneous promising development paths in the first six years of biotech startups, which are based on different combinations of human, innovative as well as financial resources.

In summary, Strategic Entrepreneurship is a central sub-discipline for the investigation of the competitiveness of young companies, which will be particularly focused on in the third funding period. In this context, new, evidence-based findings are to be obtained on the following overarching research questions:

How should young companies position themselves strategically in order to attract the best talent?

How can startups successfully internationalize, especially against the backdrop of global crises such as the Corona pandemic?

How can startups leverage collaborations with established companies to become competitive?

Associated scientists to the Competence Center Strategic Entrepreneurship:


Competence Center Digital Entrepreneurship

The Digital Entrepreneurship Competence Center builds on some preliminary work from the first two cohorts of the Manchot Graduate School, but also on HHU-wide initiatives such as the research group "Decision Making Using Artificial Intelligence Methods" funded by the Manchot Foundation. Germany lags well behind other industrialized countries such as the United States, South Korea and Sweden in terms of digitization; the Corona crisis made this particularly clear in many places. To become competitive, digital startups have a key role to play as drivers of innovation and employment. The Digital Entrepreneurship Competence Center is therefore investigating which success factors are of particular importance for entrepreneurs in the digital economy and how startups in general can take advantage of digitization.

Digital entrepreneurship is a very young subdiscipline of entrepreneurship research. On the one hand, it explicitly looks at the special features of startups with digital business models. On the other hand, it also deals with the effects on other, innovative startups that result from digitization. These include, for example, digital instruments for internal company communication or new, digital financing options. In this regard,a current research project at the Graduate School by Scarlett Koster, Andrew Isaak and Eva Lutz is looking at the role of sustainability and the gender of the founders in the online crowdfunding of startups.

The analysis of digital innovation and ecosystems is also part of this discipline. The impact of technological innovations by young companies on society and the resulting institutional and organizational transformations are examined. Well-known case studies in digital entrepreneurship include the sharing economy (such as the ride-hailing service Uber), the online financing of startups by the crowd or by means of cryptocurrencies or initial coin offerings, social media influencers, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (such as ChatGPT), or modern methods of decision-making and participation.

The competence center Digital Entrepreneurship offers numerous research opportunities that enrich the scientific discourse on the digitization of and in startups as well as the development in practice. The following overarching research questions are at the forefront here:

How can founders whose concept is based on a digital business model successfully build a startup?

How can startups in general use the opportunities of digitization to place innovations on the market?

How can founders use new digital forms of financing to put their company on a growth course?

Associated scientists to the Competence Center Digital Entrepreneurship:
  • Prof. Dr. Eva Lutz, Chair of Business Administration, in particular Entrepreneurship and Finance (Management of the Competence Center)
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Börner, Chair of Business Administration, in particular Financial Services
  • Prof. Dr. Steffi Haag, Chair of Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Prof. Dr. Janine Maniora, Professorship for Business Administration, in particular Financial Accounting
  • Prof. Dr. Barbara Weißenberger, Chair of Business Administration, in particular Controlling und Accounting
  • Dr. Andrew Isaak, Manchot Graduate School
  • Larissa Pomrehn, Manchot Graduate School
  • Scarlett Koster, Manchot Graduate School


Competence Center Sustainable Entrepreneurship

The Competence Center Sustainable Entrepreneurship is dedicated to a younger sub-discipline of entrepreneurship research that is gaining in importance. The term Sustainable Entrepreneurship describes entrepreneurs who aim to contribute to environmental or social sustainability while pursuing financial goals. This term is also frequently used in relation to young companies in connection with so-called Born-Sustainable Startups, which are already founded based on values and principles of sustainability and are thus aligned with related goals from the very beginning. In addition, so-called hybrid organizations should also be mentioned in this context, which combine different logics (e.g. that of the market and that of civil society).

The practical relevance of this research area can be seen, for example, in many 'green startups' founded in Germany, such as the venture BeBananas, which aims to save food, and the Wuppertal-based startup Green Ocean, which uses biological processes to produce clean water. These startups stand out because their products, technologies and/or services contribute to the ecological goals of a green economy. For example, in 2020 alone, around 6,000 startups in Germany made a concrete contribution to the environment and climate protection with their products and services. Accordingly, scientific studies on improving the competitiveness of startups make relevant contributions to practice, but also to the further development of this research area.

Overall, the major challenge of climate change has been pushed into the background somewhat by other crises, but for this very reason it will require all the more attention in science and practice again in the future. In addition, the concept of social sustainability also relates to the handling of employees and stresses in companies. Previous studies have already addressed the relationship between transformational leadership or web-based intervention and the avoidance or reduction of stress among employees in various contexts. A review of such correlations is also important in the specific startup context, as the dimensions of transformational leadership, i.e., influence by example, inspirational motivation, mental stimulation, and individualized support, are of particular importance in this work environment. For example, work in startups is often characterized by a high degree of uncertainty and dynamism, as the establishment on the market has not yet been completed. This harbors a high potential for stress for employees. Accordingly, it is particularly important that the founders apply a management style that has a positive effect on the motivation of the employees and thus ultimately on the success of the startups.

In the Competence Center Sustainable Entrepreneurship, the breadth of this research field is taken into account and new insights are gained both on Born-Sustainable Startups and on startup-based ecological and social innovations. The following overarching research questions are in focus:

How can founders set up their companies as Born Sustainable startups sustainably right from the start?

How can startups contribute with new solutions to master ecological challenges caused by climate change?

How can the social sustainability of the company be promoted through the leadership of founding teams?

Associated scientists to the Competence Center Sustainable Entrepreneurship:
  • Prof. Dr. Eva Lutz, Chair of Business Administration, in particular Entrepreneurship and Finance (Management of the Competence Center)
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Süß, Chair of Business Administration, in particular Organization Studies and Human Resource Management (Management of the Competence Center)
  • Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Hahn,Henkel-Endowed Chair of Sustainability Management


Responsible for the content: