More than 220 start-ups have been registered at TU Ilmenau since 1990. Of these, more than 100 technology-oriented companies have settled in the immediate vicinity of the university. This has led to the creation of several new business parks around the university.
The innovative spin-off activities are thematically influenced by the teaching and research portfolio of the TU Ilmenau and have produced, among others, world market leaders. The active networking of business and science contributes significantly to a founder-friendly region. The location Ilmenau, with its support structures and location factors, its proximity to the university and other transfer institutions, offers excellent conditions for start-ups.
Here, some of the founders and their stories are presented in more detail. Of course, this is only a selection of the start-ups at the university; the selection is also regularly supplemented.
Development of innovative liquid and high-resolution short-range sensors.
Ilmsens GmbH was founded in 2016 out of the TU Ilmenau and develops state-of-the-art ultra-wideband sensors according to the highest quality standards. Ilmsens sensors are used internationally in liquid analysis and short-range sensor technology.
Ilmsens GmbH has its origins in the Department of Electronic Measurement and Signal Processing and the research group "Ultrawideband Technology (UWB)" headed by Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Sachs, Kai Schilling, Martin Kmec and Ralf Herrmann. In order to take the step from research to business, the four scientists brought the right co-founder on board in Hans-Christian Fritsch: The business informatics specialist was a project manager at the TU and took over the position as managing director at Ilmsens. Today, the company employs more than 20 people at its locations in the Technology and Start-up Center Ilmenau and in Košice (Slovakia).
Using high-resolution close-range sensor technology, Ilmsens GmbH is able to detect objects or surfaces as well as the smallest movements and to determine and classify them with regard to their distance from the sensor, their speed and their position. With this non-destructive method, the objects can be detected in a wide variety of materials. The technology is also used internationally in science: Norwegian researchers, for example, used the sensors to measure layers of snow on the sea ice at the North Pole.
Ilmsens GmbH was funded via EXIST research transfer and won, among others, the Thuringian strategy competition for innovative start-ups (2016), the start-up pitch of the ZVEI colloquium (2018) and the pitch of the technology competition getstarted2gether (2020).
Automated software solution for fully automatic data processing
ifesca was founded in 2016 and offers an automated software solution that can process data fully automatically and operate intelligent energy management. The goal is to optimally support decision support processes and enable a climate-friendly use of resources.
The company has its roots at the TU Ilmenau: The three founders Sebastian Ritter, Clemens Rosenbauer and Andreas Reuter all studied engineering informatics at the TU and worked for many years at Fraunhofer IOSB in Ilmenau. Their joint projects in the energy sector welded the threesome together - the desire for change and the personal aspiration to further digitalize energy management ultimately led to the founding of the company. The company now employs 47 people.
With the cloud-based platform ifesca.AIVA® and the stand-alone component ifesca.ADAM®, ifesca has developed two applications with which all market roles in the energy industry as well as energy- intensive industrial companies can use the digital service in the area of forecasting and optimization of energy data. The AI-based intelligent forecasting system supports energy supply and demand by providing fully automated real-time forecasting decisions. This makes it possible to more reliably serve planning processes that are becoming increasingly complex due to the growing amount of data.
In 2020, Ifesca won an award as one of the top 100 innovators of German SMEs, has received an annual family-friendly employer award since 2018, and also offers apprenticeships. May 2018 saw the opening of the in-house showroom "Future Technology Center".
Brandenburg Labs GmbH
Development of immersive audio products for a perfect auditory illusion
Brandenburg Labs GmbH was founded in 2019 and develops immersive audio products that allow users to create their own personalized auditory reality. The aim is to achieve a perfect auditory illusion, so that the listener cannot distinguish whether the audio signals being played come from a real or a virtual audio source.
Founder and CEO of the company is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karlheinz Brandenburg, developer of one of the most innovative digital audio technologies of today, in particular the mp3 and MPEG audio standards. He is known for his pioneering work in digital audio coding and immersive audio, and during his career he has been awarded some 100 patents. As a full professor, he headed the Electronic Media Technology Department at Ilmenau University of Technology from 2000 to 2020, and in 2004 he became the founding director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau, Germany. The foundation of Brandenburg Labs GmbH is based on an extensive knowledge and network in the field of basic and applied research in audio. In the use of headphones, the creation of an immersive audio experience has posed enormous challenges to science and industry for decades - this is what the company wants to address and place its solutions and products on the market. Brandenburg Labs GmbH is a spin-off of the TU Ilmenau and the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology and employs 15 people.
The company focuses on the development of immersive audio products that enable virtual sound sources to be heard as if they were physically present in the listener's environment. The products are intended to redefine human hearing: The technology used enables headphones to recreate real acoustic environments or create new realistic listening environments. Smart wearables are intended to enable users to create their own personalized auditory reality. Such devices can reduce distracting background noise and increase the volume of the sound source the user is currently focusing on. In addition, virtual sound sources are naturally placed in the user's listening environment, allowing them to experience the sensation of real surround sound. In the future, the company will market software libraries, augmented auditory reality (AAR) systems, and intelligent headphones (PARty).
The most important milestone for the young company is its demonstration system. Brandenburg Labs developed the system as the first "proof of concept" for the immersive simulation of virtual sound sources. The system has already been presented at many events in the audio industry and represents a significant advance over the state of the art. Brandenburg Labs has also been successful in acquiring publicly funded projects.
SNIPIN UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
Teaching a mindful approach to digital media
SSNIPIN was founded in December 2018 and aims to teach a mindful and meaningful use of digital media. The goal is to create the lowest possible threshold and simple access to the meaningful use of the digital world for everyone and thus contribute to digital participation and digital maturity.
Dr.-Ing. Sara Werner is the sole managing director and founder of the mobile digital workshop. She graduated in "Digital Television", followed by a PhD in Media Technology. Through the Existenzgründerpass she dealt more intensively with the idea of founding a company, through the possibility of legal and tax advice, the first step to founding a company was less hurdled. "Make yourself a puppet show!" This sentence didn't let Sara go - the idea for an A/V application for creative and simple storytelling was born. SNIPIN is an artificial word as a representation of the action "cut something into it". Originally it was about snipping, cutting, pasting, integrating, doing it yourself. Today the offer of SNIPIN is a little different:
As the initiator of SNIPIN and with her mobile digital workshop, Sara mainly supports children, parents, educators and developers of child-friendly digital offerings. Her concern is to teach a mindful and meaningful use of digital media. The founder works mainly in Ilmenau and the surrounding area, as well as in Erfurt, together with local partners. In 2022, the establishment of the project "DIE Digitalmacherei" is in planning. DIE Digitalmacherei is a colorful place in Erfurt's KrämerLoft where digital skills are taught. The company mainly offers workshops, work boxes, consulting and development services. Depending on the request, the workshops include, on the one hand, technically practical offerings (including playful programming learning), and on the other, offerings with a focus on general media literacy and media ethics, including topics such as media addiction or cybercrime. In the future, DIE Digitalmacherei in Erfurt's KrämerLoft will also offer children's birthday parties and adult evenings on these topics.
SNIPIN's greatest success to date has been the development of an artificial intelligence in the form of a so-called “WERK-Box” for children. With these “Werk-Boxes”, children learn concepts of digital technology in a playful way and thus have a homemade product for everyday use in their hands.