At the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management, students can develop their own business idea or even found their own startup. In the MyProject modules they are familiarized with all relevant business tools and concepts. The NIT curriculum covers the entire process from forming a business idea to finding investors, sales, and marketing. The following overview showcases a few of the many great ideas and startups that were founded by NIT Alumni during or after the Technology Management program.
About the Founders
Natalia Tomiyama, NIT Alumna Class 11 and Sandro Rabbiosi, NIT Alumnus Class 9, met through the Northern Institute of Technology (NIT) Management network, where they both completed the Technology Management program alongside engineering studies at the Hamburg University of Technology. Together with their business partner Fahad Khan they founded their startup, NÜWIEL, in 2016.
Due to the high traffic volume, large cities like Berlin, London or New York suffer from traffic jams, dangerous emissons and noise polution. In Germany more than 100 million tons of CO2 emissons are caused by cars alone. The fine particles that are being emitted can cause many sicknesses like cancer and other lung diseases.
The Business Idea
NÜWIEL wants to free the city from traffic jam, noise, and atmospheric pollution. With a battery-powered bicycle trailer, NÜWIEL aims to improve the quality of city air without having to forgo the comfort of powered freight transportation.Their smart bicycle trailer not only relieves the cyclist of most of the workload; it also knows when to brake or accelerate.
With the help of the NÜWIEL trailer, cyclists can easily transport loads, such as groceries or small furniture, even when faced with upward slopes. Sensors measure the trailer load and are able to determine whether the route is uphill or downhill. Thus, depending on the requirement, either the thrust of the electric motor is adjusted or the triple secured braking system is activated. Up to 120 kilograms can be transported with little effort.
From the beginning, NÜWIEL and its electrical bicycle trailer have been on the road to success. They received funding from the EXIST Gründerstipendium, InnoRampUp, and Climate-KIC. In January 2017, the young company was the only European start-up to take part in the Food+City Challenge in Austin, Texas, where it won the third prize. In the same year they once more won the bronze medal at the Gründergeist competition for business startups held by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, they outperformed 1,300 competitors and were accepted into the IKEA Bootcamp in September 2018. And most recently, the jury of the Digital Logistics Award chose Nüwiel als the 1. place winner in September 2019.
Melissa, who originally comes from the US, and Barbadian-born Cherisa got to know each other during their master's studies at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. At the NIT they studied "Technology Management" (MA/MBA) in parallel to an MSc at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). "Although we were initially worried that our very similar technical backgrounds might be a problem," says Melissa Gile, "we quickly realized how well we work together as business partners." The international team is supported by Amanda Woodcock, who lives in the USA and was mainly responsible for the development of the prototype glove.
Approximately 1.3 million Americans have a prosthetic arm. However, about 60% of these patients have problems fully utilizing their artificial limb. High expectations and a lack of training quickly lead to frustration and often to a rejection of the bionic limbs. With costs between 10,000 and 100,000 US-$ per prosthesis, an unsatisfied patient is not only emotionally but also financially burdened.
The Business Idea
Even though there are a large number of different types of prostheses, the complementary therapy options offered by manufacturers are still limited. There still is a gap in the market in this area," explains Cherisa Nicholls.
NIT Alumni Cherisa and Melissa have addressed this problem and want to help prosthetic patients. The aim is to create opportunities for patients to practice at home, outside of physiotherapy. Every year, approximately 10,000 people receive an advanced prosthetic arm for the first time in the US. Melissa and Cherisa want to help these new users in particular during the difficult initial training phases.
After interviews with patients, physical therapists and doctors, the idea was born to develop a prosthetic glove with an accompanying app. The glove is connected to the app via Bluetooth. Flexible sensors in the individual fingers detect every movement and illuminate small LED lamps as soon as a movement occurs. With the app, patients can practice anything from standard movements to precision exercises, and have fun at it too. Everyday things such as holding a coffee cup, cutting food or throwing a ball are made possible again with a little training. A glove would cost about 600 US-$ - app included. Not too much, considering the high cost of a prosthesis.
Melissa and Cherisa are currently writing a detailed business plan. The next steps would include discovering funding options and testing their prototype for a longer period of time. Whether the two will really go to the market with their prosthetic glove is still uncertain. Nevertheless, they have a tip for other potential founders: "It is important to always take an "idea book" with you. In case an idea crosses your path at university, at work or in everyday life".
It takes 3,762 nails and half a kilometer of string to make a single Fadenfeld, or field of string. The works of art created by NIT alumni Nico Göhner and Alexander Sbitnew and their business partner Justus Basler are not only eye-catchingly beautiful but also technical masterpieces.
The Business Idea
The idea took shape when Justus was looking for an individual present for his father. He wanted to depict himself and his two siblings in a unique way in the form of a spectacular image," says Nico Goehner.
The two young men came across the do-it-yourself trend String Art on the Internet, where instructions for creating works of string art are to be found in countless videos and blogs, but instead of getting to work with hammers, nails and string the three students wanted to machine-make their Fadenfeld. The young entrepreneurs developed a machine that wound string around the nails. Using a high-resolution digital portrait photo as the template, individual string art images take shape almost entirely automatically.
After a few initial setbacks production now runs smoothly. The only manual labor that is required is to hammer the nails into the wooden panel by hand. Yet the entire process still very seldom takes less than 24 hours. "We hope that this mixture of technology and art will attract people who might not see themselves as being interested in art and gain them as customers," says Nico Göhner.
About the Founders
NIT Class 17 Alumni Nico Göhner and Alexander Sbitnew founded the start-up Fadenfeld during the Entrepreneurial Management course at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. Their friend Justus Basler joined them and programmed an algorithm for manufacturing string art.
Flight safety is a top priority in Germany. Airlines must maintain their aircraft regularly. Every six to ten years every aircraft is dismantled and overhauled. The narrow aircraft hangars present a challenge. Collisions with other airplanes, vehicles or walls are a daily risk.
"The aircraft industry has to spend several million euros a year on repairs caused by this type of damage. We at Flugilo believe that we can reduce these costs significantly with our sensors," explains Andrew Moakes, co-founder of Flugilo.
Until now, it has been very costly to move an airplane. Ground personnel walk under the wings and along the stern, directing the tug driver into the parking position. Parking can take up to 60 minutes, involving high personnel costs and risk for human error caused collosions. This process is exactly what Alex and Andrew want to change with their start-up Flugilo. Similar to the parking aid of a car, the device shows whether the aircraft is too close to an object. The idea is that a set of sensors will pay for themselves within a year, representing a major saving compared to the previous repair and personnel costs.
The idea of the students has already gained some attention. At the Uni-Pitch, a joint event of Hamburg's universities for startups, they reached the final round. They have tested their first iteration with an industry partner, gaining positive feedback and valuable lessons. To further develop their prototype, Alex and Andrew are looking for investors.
About the Founders
The founders of Flugilo got to know each other at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. The two Americans studied Technology Management (MBA) at the Hamburg University of Technology in parallel to an MSc. "Andrew and I already have some experience in product development. When we met, we quickly realized that we could work well together. That's why we decided to launch Flugilo," says Alexander Kasinec.
About the Founders
Rodrigo Hortega (left) and Alejandro Espinoza (right), NIT Class 16, are both Mexicans who have experienced the problems of insecurity and understand the repercussions in quality of life. The founding team was supported by Bojidar Dimitrov, an enthusiastic backpack traveler who on the other hand is aware of the need for route advice when traveling to unknown places.
Safety is a problem that significantly diminishes the quality of the life of millions of residents and visitors to cities around the world, especially in Latin America where 42 of the world's 50 most violent cities are located. The feeling of being unsafe in certain situations can be very intense, and that is where Swalk can really make a difference.
Swalk is a mobile application that shows users the safest route to their destination. The streets of the routes are colored in red, yellow and green depending on their security level in real time. To create the routes, Swalk uses two sources of information: official data from the police departments and the database created by users because Swalk enables them to report crimes as they are experienced or witnessed.
In order to improve veracity of the reports, every report made by users is validated according to the user's behavior profile, to other profiles giving the same or similar input, and to statistical analysis of the reported crimes. Furthermore, Swalk allows users to share their live location with a contact person while following a safe route, thus increasing their safety feeling.
Swalk is at the moment in use as a beta version in Mexico City and Puebla. It enables users to create safe routes for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists as well as to report new crimes. Swalk progress at the moment is frozen for various reasons and it is still unclear whether efforts to continue the project will succeed. Nevertheless, through two years of hard work and a definitely rocky road, plenty of knowledge and experience has been gathered, preparing the founders for future challenges.
During the Technology Management program (MBA/MA), the students acquire the skills required to become a stable business owner. The MyProject modules cover subjects related to founding a business like forming innovative ideas, writing a business plan or marketing an idea to potential clients. As part of this curriculum, the students lead their own innovation project – either their own business idea or an innovative project from one of the partner companies. Furthermore students can apply and deepen their acquired knowledge during the compulsory internship as well as the Master's thesis.
The module "Design Thinking" is part of the Complementary Studies of the master's program in Technology Management.
On February 21, 2020 at 4 pm, the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management in Hamburg will host a "Business Speed Dating". Register now!
This NIT workshop offers an insight into the technical possibilities of Artificial Intelligence in companies.