New entrepreneurial incubator available for PhD students at Aarhus University

PHD-HUB FOULUM is a new incubator ready to help PhD students within natural sciences develop their own business ideas or find jobs in private companies. Agro Business Park launches the incubator and Aarhus University is an affiliate partner.

2018.01.08 | Lotte Rystedt

The participants in the PHD-HUB FOULUM are e.g. given access to office space and sparring when it fits into their schedule. Photo: Colourbox

PhD students are increasingly popular in trade and industry, and according to a recent survey from the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs, science students are particularly attractive. Aarhus University’s departments in Foulum currently have about 145 PhD students, who carry out research in agro ecology, animal science, food science, engineering and molecular biology and genetics. Some of the students pursue  researcher careers, but others may consider alternative job options as the way ahead.

Now, the new PHD-HUB FOULUM incubator is launched, and offers PhD students the opportunity to try entrepreneurship or to find jobs in private companies. Agro Business Park, located next to Aarhus University in Foulum, will operate the incubator.

Targeted at PhD students

Agro Business Park has accomplished several entrepreneurship programmes, but this is the first programme targeted specifically at PhD students.

-          Certain challenges exist when PhD students become entrepreneurs. The products are often knowledge intensive as well as capital intensive, and the development of these requires a significant amount of time. We are able to help PhD students identify relevant parties that are interested in their knowledge, and we have significant experience in facilitating the development of ideas into commercially sustainable businesses, says Jacob Mogensen. He is the PHD-HUB FOULUM Project Manager, and Innovation Manager at Agro Business Park.

The 6-month incubator programme will provide the students with access to office space and business support whenever it fits into their schedule. Further, the PhD students will be invited to participate in an entrepreneurship course as well as networking activities with local companies. A kick-off meeting is held Wednesday 10 January, and all interested parties are welcome.

Jacob Mogensen emphasizes that the incubator programme is not only targeted at researchers with a “ready to go” product.

-          We are sure that some students already have great business ideas, but we also want to get in touch with PhD students who do not yet know what they want once they have submitted their thesis. Participation in the PHD-HUB FOULUM will allow the students to boost their knowledge of relevant companies and strengthen their networking activities. It may also help them become more aware of the opportunities, and for international students it may be a shortcut to relevant information on how to stay in Denmark and work, says Jacob Mogensen.

Holding on to talents

One of the PhD students to participate in the kick-off meeting is Henrik Thers.  He is currently finishing his PhD thesis on nitrous oxide emissions from rapeseed fields at the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University.

-          While finishing my PhD, I want to explore future work options. I find the idea of starting up my own business intriguing, but I still want to explore the opportunities, says Henrik Thers. He participates in the kick-off meeting to see whether PHD-HUB FOULUM might be the right option for him.

Professor Lis Wollesen de Jonge is a PhD student supervisor; she is the chairperson of the Agroecology PhD Programme, and she has helped launch the incubator. Due to her efforts, PhD students now achieve ECTS points when participating in the programme.

-          We want to give the most talented and qualified students – who also have the energy and the abilities – the chance of identifying opportunities that they have never considered before. In addition, it will be a benefit for society, in case they want to start up businesses in Denmark, says Lis Wollesen de Jonge.

It is equally important to Jacob Mogensen to make sure that highly educated people stay in the local area once they finish their studies.

-          We are very interested in competent people establishing new companies in our local area; and they might also contribute to the development of well established companies within e.g. the food sector, says Jacob Mogensen.

Read more about the PHD-HUB FOULUM here

DCA, Agro, Anis, Food