Trifold’s Coaching for StartUps

David Wewetzer during a workshop with researchers in CBS

During a recent series of workshops within the Trifold project, junior scientists of research centers in Tunisia, thinking about running a startup company by bringing a result of their organization to the market, shared their thoughts about pathways to research valorization in Tunisia.

David Wewetzer from Bremen University and part of the Trifold team visited among others the Center of Biotechnology of Sfax (CBS) in November. “My main aim is to help researchers to succeed with their startups,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities in terms of education and many ideas-good ideas. I am here to offer support, to show the differences of being a researcher and being an entrepreneur. Here, our project activities are addressing all levels of scientific staff in the six partnering institutions“.

 David Wewetzer visited the General Director of CBS, Pr. Sami Sayadi

Imen Zouari, a young engineer and Doctor in Biotechnology at CBS is optimistic about her progress. “I want to formulate and develop a scale-up of my product in a way that can be efficient in the market,” she says. Imen hopes that the Trifold coaching will help her with new ideas to achieve her goals while she is infrastructurally supported by the CBS- business incubator.

The incubator offers accommodation and professional support to newly created companies. In the future, the General Director, Pr. Sami Sayadi, wishes moreover to have lectures and conferences on the topic of startup formation. “This could be helpful for young researchers to achieve a high level with their products and management support,” he says.

When asked about the capacity development activities at CBS, he says: “For us, Trifold is dealing with two things. First, the transfer of our technologies into economic added value and second, a future vision, a roadmap, the building of a strategy.” Pr. Sayadi believes that Trifold is a worthy project. “We can study or gain a good idea on how our Centre could be in 5 or 10 years,“ he says. For Pr. Sayadi it is important that Tunisian research results are available to the regional industry: “It is important – not only in CBS but also in other centers”.

Pr. Sami Sayadi, General Director of CBS

Imen Zouari, Engineer and Doctor in Biotechnology, CBS

Besma Sioud, Engineer in Biotechnology in CBBC and a member of the TTO team called ARTT, says that she would like to see each single scientist to “think about technology transfer in his research.” As a member of ARTT, she would like to achieve more concrete results and hopes that the training and coaching measures of the project will help her team to accomplish this mission.

Besma Sioud

Lobna Mansouri, Chemical Engineer in CERTE, Borj Cédria, adds that for the Tunisian research centers generally “there is a big challenge to improve the relationship of economical and scientific level”. Regarding her coaching within the Trifold project, Lobna says “this is an opportunity to learn something new”.

Lobna Mansouri


Technology Roadmapping as strategic tool for research management within TRIFOLD

Professor. Ralf Isenmann provides international expertise to implement the roadmapping approach in the Trifold project

Prof. Ralf Isenmann from Bremen University is recognized as international expert for technology roadmapping, a tool set used in the Trifold project. “The starting point is the focus area, that each partnering research center is defining individually” he says, “because each one has a different set of adressed research subjects and technologies being developed. CBBC for example has its focus in biotech, especially in agriculture. So we decided to frame the generic roadmapping in this area and to customize it to an organization-specific level – “biotech in agriculture” would be too broad to serve as a decision making support tool for CBBC’s research labs”.

Professor Isenmann’s contribution in Trifold is specifically to provide expertise in technology roadmapping to all six partnering Tunisian research centers and all issues around it. “Roadmapping is an excellent instrument for the management of technologies and innovations“ he says. “It has proven its usefulness in the last thirty years in many industries and application purposes including technology transfer and re-arranging respective organizational strategies.”

The roadmap is a tool, flexible in its applications. It helps to systematically develop a clear and visible strategy, integrating future developments of technologies as well as of market requirements and customers’ needs. “A roadmap visualizes a strategy, so it is a powerful instrument for communication, inside an organization as well as outside to any external stakeholders. Due to its tangible visualization, it looks compelling and attractive, while linking market drivers and customer’s needs with design, function and performance indicators of products and with technological solutions, capabilities and other resources needed”.

Roadmapping workshop in CBBC, Borj Cedria

Isenmann compares the process of creating a roadmap for a Tunisian research center with working on a spreadsheet. “You can think of a roadmap is a navigation plan or as an empty table with a number of columns and rows” he argues. “The question is which are the proper levels, the proper names of the rows. Any rows are indicating a perspective that you are looking into the future. Usually, you are just focusing on technologies and on market needs. Integrating this tow perspectives is a very important and crucial task” he points out.

Prof. Isenmann describes the methologogical integration to the other project workpackages in his most recent visits to the research centers in Tunis, Borj Cédria, Sfax and Médnine as a “four-step, fast-start approach”

  1. Give a general introduction to technology roadmapping with its basic principles and project-oriented process model to start and implement quickly
  2. Conduct customized roadmapping, fine-tune it to the specific needs and requirements of each center
  3. Provide management support along the initiated roadmaps
  4. Offer customized trainings and coaching through a fine-tuned series of capacity building modules.

After the implementation in this TRIFOLD project, Isenmann hopes that technology roadmapping might be understood by the Tunisian research managers as a powerful instrument, fully integrated then as an ongoing process linking roadmapping activities with general strategic planning. He says that he would love to see the roadmapping approach as part of any research project, technology development and start-up in all research centers in Tunisia.




Recent actions for the Trifold project

The overarching aim of Trifold is to support the six selected Tunisian research centers in improving their research valorization. Capacity development measures have been implemented to introduce changes to their internal processes in order to increase their transfer and innovation capabilities.

Improved research valorization will have a threefold impact to the national Tunisian innovation ecosystem:

  • In terms of the evaluation methodology to be used
  • In terms of new role models being piloted in some Tunisian research centers
  • and in terms of organizational developments and institutional settings.

Research scientists in CBBC (Centre of Biotechnology of Borj Cendria) introducing their valorization activities to David Wewetzer

In October, the Trifold team from the University of Bremen visited the partnering centers in Tunisia for another working meeting with different labs and to coach their activities and deeper analyse the needs of the institutions:

In CBBC Borj Cedria, Dr. Michael Boronowsky continued the training program based on the innoSpice process capability assessment which was conducted in summer 2017 and generated a detailed assessment report. Following the report’s recommendations, the team from ARTT gets insight into many details of how to develop an individual result into a marketable thematic platform. In addition to the training sessions, individual coaching was also provided.

Participants on the project exchanging ideas about their work plan in ARTT

Ms. Tanja Woronowicz and Prof. Ralf Isenmann, also a member of the University of Bremen, coached their colleagues in IRA Médenine and the centers CERTE and CERTEn in Borj Cedria. Prof. Isenmann introduced to them the methodological approach of technology roadmapping with its principles and benefits for strategic research planning . He customized a technology roadmapping according to the very specific needs and requirements of each institution. In November 2017, both met with the General Directors of CBS in Sfax and IRA Médenine to figure out their fields of potential collaboration via a cooperation roadmap.

David Wewetzer during a workshop about startups with participants from CBS (Centre of Biotechnology of Sfax)

Mr. David Wewetzer of the University of Bremen, during his last visits in November 2017 in Tunisia, provided consultancy services to support company communication of four start-ups at CBS.