myStandards in the Kieler Nachrichten
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

This is how the founders in Schleswig-Holstein feel, using the example of myStandards GmbH.

This is what the founders in Schleswig-Holstein are like

According to the statistics office, business start-ups account for one-fifth of the total - here the trend was even ten percent upwards. "These are great figures," says Anke Rasmus, 1st chairman of the Start-up SH association. The head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Kiel points to recent studies, such as those by the German Start-up Monitor, as proof of the dynamics. According to her, Schleswig-Holstein's importance as a founding state is growing.

More start-ups based in Schleswig-Holstein

Whereas in 2018 1.6 percent of the young companies surveyed in just under 2000 had their headquarters between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, this figure had already risen to 2.6 percent this year. No comparison to start-up hotspots such as Hamburg or Berlin, but while other federal states such as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony or Saxony-Anhalt have lost shares, Schleswig-Holstein has seen an upward trend.

Christina Wittke (29) is one of the successful founders in the north. A good year ago, the Kiel-born business economist founded Mystandards GmbH together with the geoscientist Simon Nordstad at the Kiel Innovation and Technology Centre (Kitz). A laboratory, a cabinet full of reference materials and the question of how these can be used for analysis - these were the ingredients that led to the start-up. Nordstadt started in 2013 with an attempt to produce materials for the calibration of measuring instruments from rock powder and binding agents.

Christina Wittke and Simon Nordstad. Founders of MyStandards GmbH.
Christina Wittke and Simon Nordstad. Founders of MyStandards GmbH.

Nano pellets from Kiel made the breakthrough

The breakthrough came with the development of "nano-pellets" - ultra-homogeneous pressed powder tablets that are used in mining, for example, where they serve as a comparative value for soil samples and thus show whether a site is suitable for the degradation of a certain substance. The Kiel technology could make the conventional acid analysis superfluous. "The market is huge," says Christina Wittke. The innovation could also benefit climate research.

The big problem for start-ups: venture capital

To inspire banks with this perspective proved to be hopeless - after all, the university graduates had hardly anything to offer that could serve as security. Even venture capitalists did not exactly stand in line. The foundation was finally made possible by funding from the Schleswig-Holstein Seed and Start-up Fund plus an "Exist" start-up scholarship. Christina Wittke is satisfied with the start-up climate in the north. The biggest problems? In her case, she sees them above all in convincing investors of the economic potential of the new analysis technology. Since laboratories were required for this foundation, the topic of commercial space was also a bottleneck. It was a "huge stroke of luck" that areas in the Kitz were freed up.

Impulses hoped for from Silicon Valley

Julia Körner, founding expert at the Kiel Chamber of Industry and Commerce, also rates the latest figures as "very pleasing", especially as the number of business registrations has only risen by 1.5 percent nationwide. The Chamber of Industry and Commerce was particularly aware of an increase in "high-quality and technology-oriented start-ups". Economics Minister Bernd Buchholz (FDP) speaks of a "strong dynamic". He expects additional impetus from Silicon Valley. More precisely: from the office in San Francisco operated jointly with Hamburg and the partnership with "Plug & Play", the world's largest start-up accelerator.