Startup support in the IoT area

Research fellows help as coaches with expertise and contacts

The two start-up coaches Sergej Grunau and Niels Fliedner in the iA Lab at SmartFactoryOWL.

Niels Fliedner at the measuring and soldering workstation in the iA Lab.

To realize an innovative business idea, new startups are founded year after year. According to an analysis of commercial register entries, for example, there were 2857 new startups in Germany in 2020. With their creative ideas and technical innovations, startups bring about change, transformation and progress.

Young founders in the fields of Industrial IoT (IIoT) and food technology also receive the necessary support for their projects at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The offer comprises three main aspects: curricular teaching, the incubator and the accelerator. The incubator supports founders in the first phase of their startup idea. The Accelerator picks up when this phase has already been completed.

Sergej Grunau and Niels Fliedner from the Institute Industrial IT (inIT) at TH OWL provide support as startup coaches in the IoT field, both in the incubator and accelerator phases. "In the incubator, we support the founders primarily in the creation of prototypes. In our Industrial Automation Lab (iA Lab) at SmartFactoryOWL, we offer a huge portfolio with various equipment and hand tools to turn ideas into hardware," reports Sergej Grunau.

As soon as the feasibility tests have been successfully carried out and a functional prototype is available, the process moves on to the accelerator phase. Here, with the help of various validation tests, the prototypes are brought to market maturity. The SmartFactoryOWL with its demonstrators offers founders the unique opportunity to gain experience in an industrial environment at an early stage of their company and to establish contacts with potential partners or customers.

The two IoT coaches Sergej Grunau and Niels Fliedner support all concerns with their expertise and bring a large repertoire of contacts from the region from previous research projects. "We also refer other students to round out the startup teams if they are not yet complete," says Niels Fliedner.

The support of the teams is very flexible. Currently, 13 startups are being supported in the IoT area. They do not go through a fixed, prescribed program, but are supported flexibly and in line with their needs. For Sergej Grunau and Niels Fliedner, the versatility in particular is the beauty of their jobs as startup coaches. "It's exciting to see where the young people identify problems and develop solutions. The spectrum currently ranges from virtual reality as a tool for guided yoga exercises, to various app ideas, to computer-controlled evaluation of X-ray images in veterinary practices," they cite a few examples.

Event Tip:

Some of the startups, as well as the iA Lab itself, will present themselves on May 05 at the Power Up Network Night OWL at the Centrum Industrial IT. Here you can register:

You can also find more information about founding at TH OWL on the homepage at