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Scientists prefer to found companies as part-time entrepreneurs

IfM Bonn: Start-ups by researchers are significantly more stable than start-ups in general

Infrastructure at the university promoting start-ups and contacts in the business community has a positive effect on the start-up success of scientists. This is the result of a study by the IfM Bonn, which examined the start-up behaviour of academics at German universities over a period of seven years.

The study showed that every third person interested in founding a company in 2013 had also realised it in 2020. "The newly founded companies are innovative. However, 80 % of the founders carry out their self-employment as a secondary occupation - and not all of them intend to run it as a full-time business later," reports IfM researcher Dr Teita Bijedić. Together with her colleagues, she has surveyed around 7,300 academics at German universities about their start-up activities in recent years.

The respondents reported a lack of commercial knowledge and a lack of market knowledge as the biggest obstacles to start a business. Especially those interested in founding a company in the so-called STEM areas (mathematics, computer science, natural science, technology)  reported these obstacle commonly.

Those who finally found a company did not regret this decision: around nine in ten respondents stated that they would repeat the step into self-employment. In 2020, two-thirds of the start-ups from 2013 were still active on the market - the general survival rate of start-ups is 37 % after five years, according to calculations by the IfM Bonn.

In addition, life satisfaction is also significantly higher among the self-employed than among scientists who are not self-employed. However, satisfaction with income was higher among the group of scientists who did not run a business.