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"Canola Fiber" wins 34th Funpreneur Competition at Freie Universität Berlin

News from Dec 04, 2023

(from press release no. 150/2023 from 26/06/2023)

Student team impresses jury with business idea for more sustainability in the fashion industry

Textile fibres obtained from rapeseed, a secure telephone connection between older people to combat loneliness and creative sets with the sustainability factor of a closed-loop system - these three business ideas convinced the jury at the 34th Funpreneur Competition at Freie Universität Berlin and took the top three places. The Entrepreneurs Network NFUSION awarded a special prize and a public favourite was also chosen. A total of five teams competed in the traditional ideas competition in the summer semester of 2023.

A five-member jury was spoilt for choice at the final event on 22 June in the Ludwig Erhard House of the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce, where the five student teams presented their business ideas. It was the final highlight of the course, which is so different from other university events.

The Funpreneur competition enables Bachelor students to venture into the unknown outside of their degree programmes - after all, who knows whether an idea will really work? Starting a business often means facing and enduring ignorance and uncertainty. The Funpreneur Competition, part of the start-up programme of the Digital Entrepreneurship Hub at Freie Universität Berlin, aims to offer a safe space for this - also through the support of experts.

With a tiny starting capital of five euros and only seven weeks from idea development to the first prototype, the contest is a special challenge - with lots of learning moments and, above all, lots of fun. The students discover all aspects of a start-up journey in a playful way and with the aspiration of learning by doing. They are accompanied by mentors and founders and go through the most important aspects step by step, from idea development and market research to pricing and prototyping. With the support of external lecturers and business mentors from Wirtschaftsjunioren e. V., students benefit from extensive practical experience and expertise. The Funpreneur Competition takes place under the direction of Janina Sundermeier and Martin Gersch, Junior Professor and Professor of Business Administration, as well as research assistant Annemarie Bloch.

At the festive closing event this semester, the audience was able to see the future entrepreneurs and their ambitions for themselves. The long-standing partners of the Funpreneur competition were also present. Once again, many thanks go to Berliner Sparkasse, IHK Berlin, Wirtschaftsjunioren Berlin e. V., Kanzlei Härting, Ernst-Reuter-Gesellschaft e. V. (ERG), the Digital Entrepreneurship Hub and the Entrepreneurs Network NFUSION, a chapter of ERG, and Profund, the service organisation for business start-ups and innovation at FU Berlin, which support the Funpreneur Competition financially, ideally and in an advisory capacity.

"With a lot of creativity and innovative spirit, the students developed exciting business ideas within a short period of time and with a minimal budget," says Oleksandra Ambach, start-up consultant at Berliner Sparkasse, who supported the teams as a jury member in the competition with many tips. "Berliner Sparkasse is committed to making Berlin a strong centre of science. Together with the FU Berlin, we want to promote the economy here in the capital and, above all, inspire even more young people to start a business."

The ideas of the five teams at a glance:

"Canola Fibre" was awarded first place by Berliner Sparkasse. The team addresses the challenges of sustainability in the fashion industry and starts at the source: To produce a T-shirt, there is no way around thread. However, the basic materials used to manufacture clothing in particular require further innovation. The interdisciplinary team around "Canola Fiber" is tackling this tricky task and experimenting with plant fibres in order to make sustainable fashion possible from the outset while conserving resources. The team also won the special prize from the entrepreneurs' network NFUSION, including membership and moving into the Startup Villa for a year.

With its business idea, the "Ring Ring" team addresses the problem of loneliness among older people. Questionnaires are used to identify similar interests and wishes, bringing people together who can make initial connections over the phone through similarities. With an intermediary switchboard, the "Ring Ring" team pays particular attention to protecting privacy and thus also fraud. In this way, loneliness can be turned into togetherness with a good and secure feeling. The team took second place at Berliner Sparkasse.

"Creative Cycle" Berlin took third place at Berliner Sparkasse. The team turns creative time for parents and their children into a sustainable and varied experience without much effort. A creative set is ordered and, thanks to the customised amount of material for the do it yourself project, only as much as is needed is used. The creative "cycle" makes it possible: a closed-loop system with the return of unused materials or more expensive tools saves money and resources. This makes screen printing and other creative fun at home possible in the future.

The team behind the "Evaluni" app has set itself the goal of improving the dialogue between university lecturers and students. Evaluations are standard at universities. However, feedback often only comes at the end of the semester, meaning that adjustments to teaching are not possible in good time. Questions from students can also often not be taken on board. At the same time, evaluations often mean a massive use of paper. The simple handling of "Evaluni" in the courses promises to improve communication and use of resources and at the same time protects teachers from inappropriate comments by means of assigned IDs. The team won the audience award.

With its colourful surprise box, "Healthy Habits" makes overcoming your inner couch potato more exciting. Using gamification approaches, the team helps people to achieve their goals in small steps and not forget the rewards of success. With a game plan and small surprise packages that are customised to personal preferences, goals for better health - such as exercising regularly - become a habit bit by bit through the playful journey with "Healthy Habits".

Further information

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Competence Center E-Commerce
Entrepreneurial Network University (ENU)
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Department Information Systems