Christoph Ihl: “Portugal has turned into a startup country”

At UPTEC, we have our doors open for new ideas, innovation, challenges and secondments. We welcome startups, big companies, universities and hubs from all over the world. Christoph Ihl from the Hamburg University of Technology, one of UPTEC’s partners in the OpenInnoTrain community, is the next interviewee of “Open Doors”, and he shares the four week experience in UPTEC and the main reasons for joining our ecosystem.

Christoph Ihl (4)

Christoph Ihl || Professor & Head of Institute of Entrepreneurship at Hamburg University of Technology, Germany

Hamburg University of Technology || Germany || 7383 Students and 1610 Personnel

Hamburg University of Technology: Technology for Humanity

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your research project.

I am a professor of entrepreneurship at Hamburg University of Technology. I am interested in technology entrepreneurship, especially in AI and green technologies, and I want to study how startups in these areas can get off the ground, grow, and become successful. In my research project at UPTEC, I want to find out how startup founders and investors find and choose each other and, based on that, collaborate with each other so that the investors can benefit the startup beyond mere capital provision. These non-monetary value contributions by investors often leverage resources from a broader ecosystem context. The goal is to understand the underlying mechanisms of how these non-monetary value contributions can unfold in the particular context of a startup ecosystem. This research draws on large-scale quantitative data and qualitative interviews I conducted in the Porto ecosystem.

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Why did you choose to come to UPTEC for your research project?

Portugal has turned into a startup country, and Porto is one of the most vibrant hubs. It only makes sense to come here and work at and with the most prominent startup incubator, UPTEC. Apart from that, Porto is a beautiful city.

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What expectations did you have before starting your secondment in Porto? Did they materialise?

I wanted to experience an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to learn how different actors collaborate in a new-to-me cultural environment. I also wanted to learn more about how a university and a technology transfer office, in particular, can play a vital role in such an ecosystem. Finally, I wanted to contact local actors from the Porto startup ecosystem to verify and discuss the quantitative results of my research. My expectations were fulfilled. The UPTEC team played a vital role here. They hooked me up with interesting people and organized some fantastic events. Apart from that, my surfing skills could have improved more (laughs).

Which connections to stakeholders in the Porto ecosystem could be made?

I interviewed multipliers from the ecosystem and met several inspiring entrepreneurs and investors. They showed interest in my research, and I learned much from them.

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What aspects of your secondment in Porto did you especially enjoy?

I have already discussed work to focus on my private time. Living by the ocean in Matosinhos makes you happy, and there are all these delicious fish restaurants. I have chosen two cafes as my unique spots to read and think, one directly under Ponte D. Luís with a Douro view and the other by the rocky seaside of Foz.

How will your project continue after your time here in Porto?

I will visit a couple of conferences to present my research and write a publication based on it. Based on the rich text data we have collected from investor websites worldwide, with press articles and founder reviews, I am developing an interactive tool that allows users to visualize and search the value propositions of investors from different ecosystems. I hope that can be released shortly.

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June 12, 2024

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