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Empowering visions: hannoverimpuls‘ mission to drive entrepreneurial success

Cem David Sunguroğlu unveiling opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs


What is a great idea if it is not implemented? Visionaries often fail with their projects, and usually not due to a lack of technical expertise. Whether it’s high barriers to market entry or a stalled workflow, everything comes together when founding a company. 

We spoke to Cem David Sunguroğlu, head of the starting business service at our partner hannoverimpuls GmbH, and found out some interesting things for prospective founders, start-ups and companies. 

hannoverimplus GmbH is a partner of and acts as the joint business development agency for the city and region of Hannover.

Cem, could you start by explaining the mission behind hannoverimpuls and its main objectives?

Yes, of course! In a nutshell, anyone who has something entrepreneurial in mind can come to hannoverimpuls.

Regardless of whether you just have a business idea, want to start your own business or already have an established company that wants to drive forward more innovations and trends. We are also happy to advise foreign companies wishing to set up in Hannover and vice versa. We support everyone!

How does hannoverimpuls address different target groups – including female founders, established companies and foreign start-ups?

At this point, I would like to talk specifically about start-ups and entrepreneurship because this is my area of activity. We are also very broadly positioned here overall and try to push any entrepreneurial commitment. That is why we are geared towards different target groups. For example, with “Gründerinnen-Consult” (the female founder consult), we have a service for women with which we are successfully closing the enormous gender gap when it comes to start-ups. We also have intercultural start-up advice aimed at founders with a history of migration, and a service for people interested in starting a business who are coming out of unemployment. As head of the start-up service starting business, I work with my team specifically for the target group of students, researchers, lecturers and alumni at Leibniz Universität Hannover.

I am a founder myself. I know how difficult it can be sometimes: you are faced with questions that you can’t really answer for yourself, or you have blind spots and aren’t quite sure whether you are doing everything right or missing something. hannoverimpuls acts as a sparring partner here and tries to find the most tailor-made solution for everyone. If you want to set up a company, we help point you in the right direction and discuss the next steps.

Is there a specific process that interested parties can turn to for support?

You should always start by making contact and we can then shed a little more light on the jungle of possibilities.  Programs are individual, offers do not have to be taken up by everyone, sometimes they fit more or less well, which is why the initial contact is the most important thing.

What individual funding opportunities does hannoverimpuls offer and what does the initial contact offer in terms of support?

Funding instruments naturally depend on what you want to do. Financial support is almost always an issue, especially for start-ups, i.e. start-up projects with a high degree of innovation.

At university level, for example, there is the nationwide EXIST funding instrument. At state level, there is the Lower Saxony start-up grant.

Start-ups may also be interested in our investment funds with venture capital. Or the Startup-Impulse competition, with which we award prizes to several teams every year. I believe that it is actually the most highly endowed prize in northern Germany. 

What is a good fit and what is not is very individual, just like the ideas and the founders themselves, so the same applies here: It depends. An initial consultation is a good way to discuss what is worthwhile and what is possible.

What challenges can founders face in general and in the area of funding?

Start-ups are a super interdisciplinary topic, which is why it is very difficult to say that there are challenges that affect everyone. I would say that challenges that affect our economy in general apply just as much to founders as they do to established companies. Be it the topic of sustainability, digitalization or something similar.

At the same time, it must of course also be said that such challenges can be seen as an opportunity, especially in the start-up sector. If you have high barriers to market entry and successfully overcome them, or more specifically, if you have developed a really good technology, for example, it means that you have established a good position in the market. From this perspective, challenges are necessary for start-ups to be successful in the end.

How does hannoverimpuls deal with challenges for founders and start-ups, and what programs do you use to support them? 

In start-up consulting, it is first important to identify and critically reflect on the needs and problems. Of course, many founders make it on their own. It’s not the case that you always need all the tools and offers in order to make progress. Our support is not organized according to a watering can principle, but rather according to need. To this end, we have a range of offers such as workshops, seminars, events and more.

For example, I am currently supporting a team that is partially disbanding, but has a very good business idea and a well-developed technology, so is well on the way to obtaining major funding and is now looking for new team members. This is a very special but really important task.

Formats such as the “leanlab” could be a good help here. This is a classic start-up weekend format where you work on ideas in teams for 48 hours, develop business models and are supported by professional coaches. You can also take part with an already developed idea and see if you can find like-minded people who are interested in working together to implement it. Such platforms and offers are used differently by our clients because they have to take very different steps.

What could a cooperation between and hannoverimpuls look like, and what opportunities could arise?

Because we act as a joint business development agency for the city and region of Hanover, we naturally endeavor to address specific problems faced by local companies. With people from Hanover who are interested in founding a company and who are keen to work on real difficulties, this kind of thing works perfectly, of course. In this respect, hannoverimpuls is a strong local partner for A cooperation would be based on the common goal of promoting entrepreneurial commitment. That would be a win-win-win-win situation for both organizations and target groups.

Learn more about hannoverimpuls:

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What are the three concise words that could be used to describe

In my understanding, is an organization that brings together companies and people interested in founding a company to work on real problems and to create a platform where people can try things out. So my three words would be: connecting, problem-solving and authenticity.

Why did you decide to join hannoverimpuls and how do you see your role there?

I’ve actually worked as a self-employed person all my life and could never really imagine being employed. But companies and start-ups have always been a topic for me; lots of different ideas, developing and trying out new things.

And that’s how I ended up applying for the project management position in a high-tech incubator, where we support 20 start-ups with very high-quality services. I’m really happy to be able to help shape this colorful bouquet of measures that we go through together with the start-ups. I’m learning a lot myself and I’m delighted to be able to give something to many founders.

Are there any particular experiences or lessons that you have already learned from your time at hannoverimpuls?

I find it remarkable what a municipality, or specifically the city and region of Hanover, has to offer. As an outsider, I would never have thought that hannoverimpuls offers so many opportunities to work on yourself and your ideas.

When I was self-employed, I did a lot of things on my own because I thought I would have to go it alone — which is not true at all. Ultimately, you have to think for yourself, reflect and, above all, get involved. But sooner or later, almost everyone comes to a point where they get stuck, need feedback or have specific questions. This is completely normal.

As with many things in life, it helps to simply talk to someone. Many of my clients are already helped before I give them an answer, because a consultation appointment like this alone ensures that start-up projects get rolling. In this respect, my biggest learning is that we don’t just provide advice, but are there to provide the right impetus and release some of the brakes so that entrepreneurial ambitions can really take off.

And that’s something we do, for example, by recommending and enabling creative people without a concrete business idea to take part in event formats such as so that they can work directly on specific problems.


Laura Kolnsberg


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