Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)

January 05, 2021

PRME-Report: What we achieved and what we plan to do

Read about the TUM achievements regarding PRME and the roadmap for our sustainability journey.

Every fifth child worldwide has no access to clean drinking water. About 385 million children live in extreme poverty. More than 90 percent of the world’s youth breathes air that is harmful to their health. These alarming figures are amongst the reasons why TUM is committed to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).

But what does PRME mean and how do we make and track our impact on these principles? PRME stands for Principles for Responsible Management Education – a platform bringing educational sustainability to over 800 business and management schools worldwide, including the TUM School of Management. Therefore, one goal is to contribute to solutions to the grand societal challenges, such as climate change, digitization, infrastructure, urbanization and food security.

What we already achieved

Since the TUM School of Management has become PRME signatory, we have been able to expand our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have launched new research initiatives, such as the TUM SEED Center. We have created new specializations within our degree programs, such as Renewable Resources, to broaden our interdisciplinary approach. We have also established our first PRME office. Over the next few years, the office will be scaled up to include at least one colleague from each campus and students, and we will qualitatively and quantitatively assess the focus on sustainability and SDGs in our teaching and research activities. Furthermore, we will define a core strategy and specific objectives for enhancing the sustainable impact of our institution.

Working on the Sustainable Development Goals

We have reinforced our purpose and commitment to society, responsible management education, and outreach, and have begun to track information on PRME-related activities (e.g., through Assurance of Learning). In the upcoming years, we will continue to embed PRME principles into our institutional strategy and improve methods for collecting and tracking information.

In 2020, we developed a code of conduct as a guideline to ensure a respectful and enjoyable environment at TUM School of Management. And our goal is to develop a coherent overarching sustainability strategy, deepening our commitment to the core values of PRME.

We have increased the focus on sustainability and sustainable development in our teaching modules. We also started assessing how our modules relate to sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals in a qualitative and quantitative way. Two student teams started developing a tool for measuring the sustainability of our teaching modules in the master’s and bachelor’s programs in Management and Technology. And together, we plan to expand these efforts even further in 2022.

How our research relates to sustainability

In the area of research, we have also begun to qualitatively assess, how our research relates to sustainability and sustainable development. In 2021/2022, we plan to establish this reference quantitatively as well. Moreover, we will develop a specific strategy to enhance the focus on sustainability in our key research areas.

Over the past three years, we have also entered into new partnerships and collaborations with sustainable startups and universities around the world to tackle major societal challenges. One example is the new SEED Center, which involves eight partner universities from the Global South and aims to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 7 – clean and affordable energy for all by 2030.

We are also working hard on improving our communication efforts and our dialogue with internal and external stakeholders. We already provide ongoing information on our latest research findings in the field of sustainability and sustainable development through conferences and lecture series, e.g. the Munich Lecture in Business Ethics. In addition, we promote dialogue on PRME-related topics within the university. For example, by initiating project studies for the assessment of the sustainability of our research activities and teaching modules, establishing forums, and enhancing the exchange of information between different departments and centers.

Want to learn more about our PRME achievements? Click here to access our full 2019/2020 report.

December 23, 2021

From digital psychological training to support for farmers during the crisis: how sustainable solutions are helping people through the Covid-19 pandemic

Sustainability, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit are integral parts and the drive of our university, its professors, staff and students. Therefore, we are proud that our alumni closely follow these guidelines in their entrepreneurial efforts. In recent years, our alumni have shown that they have a sense of moral responsibility to provide cutting-edge solutions in these times of crisis. The newest PRME Report features TUM School of Management alumni entrepreneurs with their creative solutions and ideas that have addressed the specific problems of the pandemic. Let’s explore their success stories.

CleverAckern – support for farmers during the Corona crisis

Farmers whose livelihoods were in danger due to the pandemic found help in the platform CleverAckern. With this website, TUM School of Management alumni Fabian Höhne and Frederic Lapatschek, made it possible to connect harvest workers and students with farmers. At age 26, Höhne is already known for successfully founding the company, which sells unsold flight tickets to students. Then he decided to tackle the problem that many farmers faced during the beginning of the pandemic. Connecting potential workers with those farmers was especially important during this time of crisis as the farmers faced a huge shortage of harvest workers, who usually come to work in Germany from abroad. Therefore, the entrepreneurs received much encouragement and positive feedback for the introduction of their platform. By last summer, more than 40,000 helpers had registered.

As the pandemic progressed, the company grew and CleverAckern decided to bundle all its strengths. To this end, the company joined forces with the machinery ring’s “Das Land Hilft” initiative. As a nationwide platform with a publicly available directory of job openings that works in coordination with the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other agricultural associations, the platform now manages to connect even more people.

Digital psychological training and support with HelloBetter

Help with depression, stress, anxiety, panic and other psychological complaints, through scientifically proven online psychological training and online psychotherapy with the assistance of psychologists and psychotherapists – this is what HelloBetter and its founder Philip Idhe, TUM School of Management graduate and board member of TUM Management Alumni e.V, stand for.

What drives the entrepreneur? To create a healthier future with HelloBetter, where as many sufferers as possible are enabled to manage their ailments in a self-determined way. As lockdowns occurred around the world in the early days of the pandemic, HelloBetter noticed that many people were trying to resolve their anxiety and stress levels that arose from the given uncertainties. Idhe and his team did not hesitate and worked on a variety of support services. These include a psychological Covid-telephone hotline, a Facebook community group including live Q&As with psychotherapists, a blog with helpful tips, special training and explanatory videos.

With its innovative idea, the company is also helping to mitigate one of the main individual consequences of the pandemic: the increase in people’s anxiety and stress levels. This was also recognized by the World Economic Forum, which featured HelloBetter as one of 15 solutions to combat the coronavirus.

Teleclinic and the possibility to attend medical appointments from home

With her company, Katharina Jünger is a true pioneer of digital transformation in the healthcare sector: namely the leading German telemedicine platform in the country. Before becoming one of the founders of the company, she studied at the Center for Digital Technology and Management, a joint institution of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and TUM. But what exactly is TeleClinic about? Together with her 60 employees, Jünger offers her users the possibility of digital doctor’s appointments, online prescription ordering, and sick leave, via an app operated from home. In fact: the company was the first to introduce online doctor visits in Germany in 2016. With their idea, they thus created better access to the healthcare system – which, as it later turned out, was particularly important during the pandemic. With their product, the entrepreneurs directly hit the pulse of time, which is why it is not surprising that they experienced massive growth, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Real-time connectivity, intelligence and automation with KINEXON SafeZone

Three TUM alumni founded the company KINEXON SafeZone together, and thereby developed the most innovative full-stack solution for real-time connectivity, intelligence and automation, worldwide. Before the crisis, the three founders, Dr. Alexander Hüttenbrink, Dr. Oliver Trinchera, Dr. Maximilan Schmidt developed hardware and software that track the movements of athletes, which can further be used to automate production processes in industry. To help address the challenges of the pandemic, the founders and their team developed a system which issues a warning in case of inadequate social distancing and supports contact tracing. Therefore, the product delivers a sustainable protection of work processes in case of COVID-19 infections.

Making the invisible visible with Hawa Dawa

Hawa Dawa helps to make the invisible visible – with the support of artificial intelligence. With his company, the founder and TUM School of Management alumnus Karim Tarraf offers a solution in the fight against air pollution. The importance of good air quality became particularly evident during the numerous lockdowns, in which entire cities were able to recover from the pollution caused by everyday traffic. Clearly, an awareness of the effects of polluted air on people and their environment continued to grow. With regard to the spread of the virus via the air, new solutions for different areas like the workplace or public transport were needed.

This is where Hawa Dawa’s solution comes in. Air pollution, Karim and his co-founders argue, is combated sustainably by analyzing and evaluating air quality using artificial intelligence. Therefore, environmental data is a key in providing clean air for cities, businesses and citizens. The product is becoming particularly interesting for cities due to climate change, growing traffic hotspots in inner cities and ongoing urbanization. Especially for future-oriented projects such as smart cities, smart health or cities aiming for climate neutrality, the company provides a first approach for a new digital knowledge network with its data.

“Hawa Dawa” means “air purity” in seven different languages – which underscores the company’s global focus. The vision is clear: combining big data and artificial intelligence to help build a sustainable future. In a previous interview, Karim told us that they want to prove “that modern technologies can be implemented in harmony with the environment.” With its sustainable solution, the company was able to use the pandemic as an opportunity to address one of the greatest challenges of our time.

December 09, 2021

Change makers for a better future

The International Summer School “Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice” is an exciting opportunity for students to meet forward-thinking entrepreneurs and bring about real social change. We present this offer in more detail in our latest PRME Report.

Bamboo is one of the most sustainable and rapidly renewable raw materials on earth. It is robust, stable, and durable. Because of these properties, bamboo can be used for a wide variety of products. The idea of using it for producing t-shirts, however, came about during last year’s International Summer School “Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice”.

Insights into sustainable entrepreneurship and development of tomorrow’s ideas

The program is a unique experience for students and young professionals to develop tomorrow’s ideas with the help of theoretical foundations and practical examples. During the two-week course, our lecturers introduce participants to the major challenges of sustainable development and the United Nations SDGs, and present the theoretical foundations of sustainable entrepreneurship.

In addition, founders of renewable energy, fashion, and food companies operating in both the Global North and Global South present their business models and the stories behind them, from start-up ideas to financing and market expansion. Participants will have the opportunity to speak directly with and be inspired by the founders of sustainable businesses. In teams with other students from around the world, they develop their own sustainable business models and present them to a jury.

That is also what our Chair of Corporate Sustainability and program manager Nele Terveen likes about the project: „I love doing research on sustainable entrepreneurship. At the same time, it is also very important to me to connect my knowledge with the practical world. Seeing how ideas develop in practice is very valuable to me. And since all of our students are intrinsically and voluntarily involved in our program, they are very engaged and motivated. For me as a teacher and as a program manager, that’s a gift.”

Advantages for students: Exchange with founders

Students benefit from the cutting-edge research of our business school scholars and the rich experiences of sustainable entrepreneurs. Participants can engage in interactive activities and learn how to turn major societal challenges into entrepreneurial opportunities. They interact by collaborating with people from around the world, developing sustainable entrepreneurial ideas and turning them into sustainable business models. In the process, they learn a wide range of startup tools, including the Sustainable Business Model Canvas, rapid prototyping, and storytelling.

Another highlight: During their participation in the program, students spend an extraordinary time in the cultural city of Munich with its magnificent surroundings and immerse themselves in the genuine Bavarian lifestyle.

Previous participants are also enthusiastic about the new knowledge they have gained: „Sustainable entrepreneurship is more like a foundation to solve and create impactful solutions, especially in achieving the SDGs. And from this class, I have strengthened it with theory from the expert as well as the practice on the business model canvas together with teammates from all over the world. {…} Let’s be the changemakers for a better future!” (Ardy Gamawanto, International Summer School Student from Indonesia)

„I am glad to have been part of the international summer school 2020. With lectures of the professors and founders of sustainable business enterprises, I have learned how to conceive, develop and implement business ideas using the Sustainable Business Model Canvas which I highly recommend startup businesses to adopt. I am going to use the knowledge to start up a sustainable enterprise in low-income economies and train people in sustainable living.” (Bridget Nakangu, International Summer School Student from Uganda)

International Summer School July 18 – 29, 2022, application deadline: May 31st.

For more information on sustainability please read our PRME report.

November 25, 2021

“Anything is possible” – Why founding a social startup is rewarding on many levels

Social businesses are the enterprises of the future. As our societies become more diverse but do not offer equal opportunities for everyone, integration is an issue that no one in the business world can turn a blind eye to anymore. “Creating new chances every day”, is the vision of socialbee. Partnering with TUM School of Management, the social business is working towards reaching the UN sustainable development goals, fighting to reduce inequalities and furthering quality education, decent work and economic growth by integrating socially disadvantaged people, which is also covered in the PRME report. We talked to socialbee CEO and TUM School of Management alumna Zarah Bruhn about the challenges of founding a non-profit social startup and why it’s actually more than worth it.

Zarah Bruhn, Founder and CEO of socialbee, Image: Urban Zintel

Developing innovative perspectives: From individual integration to holistic programs

A socialbee employee talking to an applicant who found his way into the job market.

socialbee is known as Germany’s first integration service provider, sustainably educating and integrating refugees into the labour market. Starting in 2016 with placing individual refugees on listed jobs, the startup was able to integrate 10,000 people into the German job market ever since. But then the pandemic has fundamentally changed the situation. Many companies paused on employing people, let alone refugees, so nearly 65% of them dropped out of the program and the startup struggled. Recognizing its business model had reached its limits, socialbee started to create new ones. It switched their integration work to a digital process and is now not only operating nationwide, but is already launching projects in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), planning to expand  over Europe. Collaborating with companies such as SAP, socialbee initiates holistic digital programs, which include refugee recruitment, a three-month training process followed by employment and ongoing supervision for up to nine months. “Besides the programs, we also train companies to employ refugees, because integration is a two-way process”, adds Bruhn. A concept that is crowned with success: Recently, Bruhn won the Audi Generation Award, the first winner in the category of startup. A prize, which honors young and successful personalities, who have proven that there is a steep career ahead of them. Furthermore, socialbee was selected one of 34 organizations worldwide in the Google Impact Challenge for female empowerment – a philanthropy competition challenging all nonprofit organizations around the globe to submit their boldest and most innovative ideas to create a more equitable economic reality for women and girls.

Every beginning is hard

However, especially in the first year, Bruhn and her team had to face some challenges to establish their business. Not being accepted to the EXIST founder’s scholarship, which usually supports startups in the first year, the team had to pre-finance its whole formation process itself. “I went to my parents and borrowed 20,000 euros from them, saying I would like to set up a company in the field of refugees, integration and temporary work, which I actually had no idea about. I paused my studies and quit my job with no perspective on how we were going to earn money in the long term, but I had people who believed in me”, Bruhn recounts. Founding her business during her studies of the Masters in Management and Technology at TUM School of Management, Bruhn also received a lot of support: “The university paved the way for me to start a business during my studies and to finish my studies even though I was a founder.” Most of all, she values the TUM ecosystem and its founding spirit that is visible throughout “The most important thing when founding is having role models and a supportive ecosystem surrounding oneself. This is what TUM is all about and it’s why TUM is successfully known as a founders’ university.”

Why should students think about founding a social startup?

Zarah Bruhn at the Audi Next Generation Awards ceremony.

Founding a non-profit social business might not always be the first option for students who want to pursue a great career. Earning the maximum amount of money and making a quick exit is not an option when owning a non-profit enterprise, explains Bruhn. However, the business model offers many other benefits: “I want to encourage everyone to start a social business. We just get so much support from all sides because we have a social mission and a good purpose”, says the socialbee founder. “Suddenly, anything is possible.” Bruhn also recognizes a trend of working in social enterprises, instead of the classic industries. “For many students in the new generation, life is not all about building yourself a stable home and a family, it is also about self-realization and purpose”, knows Bruhn. She wants socialbee to be a role model for other social businesses. “At socialbee, we want to be a prototype of a social enterprise, pay great salaries, do state-of-the-art new work from anywhere in the world, with the best people. We want to scale up in terms of impact, with successful business models, just like enterprises in other industries”, Bruhn says. “We have the same ambitions, but social enterprises are always put in a bit of a corner. So, we need more lighthouse examples of attractive social entrepreneurs to prove to students who want to take the safe route that this is a balance which works really well.”

How to become a social business leader?

One thing Bruhn has learned through her founding experience is that passion is what keeps you going. “Follow your passion! With passion comes the idea and the idea keeps you on track”, she says. Even if founders do not have the crucial business idea in the first place, but a passionate wish to make a difference, it will come about. When you already have a great idea, don’t hesitate – “Just do it! You will not become successful if you overthink it”, recommends Bruhn. A principle that encourages her to approach bigger and bolder ideas and don’t let her feel intimidated by CEOs or other founders since the beginning: “They still put their pants on one leg at a time.” If they were able to make it, so are you.

“We need more women who dare!”

To believe in oneself is an advice Bruhn wants to pass on to other female founders in particular. Self-confidence and a bold performance in pitches is something that can be learned, Bruhn says from her experience. Therefore, she is training female founders to become more confident and gain fundraising skills. “We need more role models, more women who dare. The opportunities and doors are currently open for female founders. Investors are more interested in investing in women. The structures on a large scale have not yet changed, but the opportunities for each individual are better than ever”, emphasizes Bruhn. Having successfully implemented her startup, she still has ongoing ideas and aims to make a difference.

November 17, 2021

Different ideas, one goal: Making a social impact

Accessible healthcare units in developing countries, tech-education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Colombia, coworking spaces in rural areas and an app that plants trees to honour your efforts in reducing your carbon footprint – all these projects have one goal in common: They want to make a social and environmental impact. An aim that, combined with innovative ideas and entrepreneurial approaches, led to these projects and their inventors being among the winners of the Social Impact Award. A prize that is annually awarded by the TUM Management Alumni e.V. and is also featured in our latest PRME report.

What is the Social Impact Award?

The Social Impact Award honours projects addressing social problems offering innovative solutions and approaching these solutions with entrepreneurial strategies. All students, graduates and alumni of the TUM School of Management can submit their projects. For example, a social project they have worked on in their bachelor’s or master’s thesis that’s tackles a social issue or aims to have a beneficial impact on society. Reacting to the current issues of the global pandemic, last year’s applicants also thought about social issues that came up during the corona crisis and developed ideas on how to overcome these new challenges. The annual winners are rewarded with a prize money of 2,000 Euro, sponsored by the TUM Management Alumni e.V.. To show you the great variety of the projects, we have compiled an overview of the winners of the last two years for you:

Winner 2019: “Curafa”: Healthcare for everyone

Altus Vilijoen has worked on finding digital solutions to healthcare accessibility and affordability in disadvantaged communities. Working on his master’s thesis the student joined Curafa, an initiative that is supported by Merck and provides healthcare units in countries such as Kenya. For his commitment Altus won the Social Impact Award in 2019.

Winner 2020: “Comoon”: Revitializing rural cities

In 2020 TUM-student Marius Schulte won the cup, collaborating with his friend Jan-Niklas Kippelt, who studies at the Münster School of Architecture. Their innovative idea: As due to the Corona crisis people tended to work on remote and shop online more and more, the team wanted to develop a project to revitalize cities and retail stores. Turning spaces in the suburbs into coworking offices, Marius and Jan-Niklas wanted to make rural areas and towns more attractive and at the same time reduce the commuter traffic contributing to climate protection. The prize money enabled the winners to create their first prototype and hence found their own startup “Comoon”.

2nd Place 2020: “Recothink”: Your journey to a more sustainable life

The second place went to “Recothink”, an app that is being developed to make users aware of their carbon emissions and lead them to a more sustainable lifestyle in a playful way. Jakob, Yilun, Julius, Philipp and Tobi, the five students behind the project, integrate four levels of usability into the app. Browsing through “Recothink”, users are able to collect general information on CO2 consumption, calculate their emissions, follow a journey program that provides tips to reduce their CO2 level and “Recothink Garden”, a virtual garden in which the users are able to plant trees by collecting points throughout their successful journey. The highlight: “Recothink ” does not only want to provide value for the user but also for the environment, as every time the user plants a tree, a real one is planted by the initiative.

3rd Place 2020: “Techdalo”: Supporting tech-students from disadvantaged families

An initiative that was awarded with the third place and is already running at high speed is the social startup “Techdalo”. Its goal: to fight social injustice and provide tech-education for young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in Colombia. Working together with the entrepreneurship initiative Enactus Munich, TUM School of Management students want to give the Colombian youth a reasonable vision of their future and financially support and organize IT mentoring programs. Collaborating with tech companies, who are in need of skilled workers, “Techdalo” supports students in gaining work and education and furthers the economic growth of the tech-industry. Starting with four students in training during the pilot phase in December 2020, the students envisioned to empower another 80 students by the end of this year.

What do you need to become a successful social entrepreneur?

You want to become a social entrepreneur and apply for the Social Impact Award as well? The most important thing is to be passionate about your work, believes Altus Viljoen.

“Get started and learn as you go”, suggests the “Recothink”-Team. Talk to experts and entrepreneurs about your idea and dare to think innovative. Maybe you will be the next social change maker!

If your project study, Bachelor or Master thesis tackles a social issue or aims to have a beneficial impact on society, then apply now for a chance to win up to 2,000 Euro. All students, graduates and alumni of the TUM School of Management can submit projects for the Social Impact Award 2021. For more information click here.

October 27, 2021

What makes innovation good and how does it change society

TUM School of Management is part of PRME (Principles for Management Education), a UN Initiative aiming at “developing the responsible decision-makers of tomorrow to advance sustainable development”. Sustainable Development is often associated with innovation, or more precisely with “good innovation”. But, what is good innovation? And, how does it relate to public policy, and society? To understand this, we spoke with Sebastian Pfotenhauer, who is Associate Professor for Innovation Research at the TUM School of Management and Co-Director of the Munich Center for Technology in Society, where he heads the Innovation, Society and Public Policy Research Group. He is also the coordinator of the federally funded “Munich Cluster for the Future of Mobility in Metropolitan Regions (MCube)”. He shared with us very important insights about what makes innovation good and about how it can be instrumental to achieve sustainable development. We report key highlights from our interview below.

What is “good” innovation?

That’s an extremely interesting question that, in a way, is also the heart of the research program of my group and that I’m trying to address in my classes. So in a way, my research and teaching suggest a paradigm shift from simply “more innovation” – what I have called the “innovation imperative” – to a more nuanced understanding of what kind of innovation is actually socially desirable, and how can we shape innovation in ways that reflect the specific social, cultural, and political commitments of diverse groups and societies. “Good innovation” is a mission that treats innovation processes accordingly as social-political processes, not just techno-economic ones. It is also about recognizing that the obsession with innovation might crowd out other solutions or important social issues that might not require innovation to fix them.

How do innovations shape diverse societies and cultures?

It is important to realize that different societies, and certain groups within societies, understand the benefits and risks of innovation differently. For example, in the 1990s in the US, genetically modified crops were seen as an extension of existing biotechnologies, not fundamentally different or riskier, and were hence understood to be well covered under existent regulatory frameworks. In contrast, Britain chose an unusually scrupulous approach to GMOs after having recently been hit by the mad cow disease crisis, which considerably undermined public trust in risk management by government authorities and experts. Germany, against the backdrop of decades of strong environmental movements, took an extremely cautious, incremental strategy, detailed regulation, and publicly monitored experimental procedures to test the effects of GM crops. Some of the rationales have changed, but even today Europe and the US remain sharply divided over the use of GMOs. Thus, innovations do not travel across nations, cultures, and jurisdictions as easily as trade economics would have us believe.

What does that mean on the broader spectrum?

Innovations are never separate from their social embedding, and in democratic societies, the effects of technology will always encounter a diversity of political positions and social preferences. To pretend that this is not the case and to wish that controversies would magically go away fundamentally misunderstands what innovation is about: social change. Trying to resolve these conflicts through appeals to “rationality” or by insisting that the benefits or a technology are “clear” fails to recognize that people might reject technologies or certain forms of expert advice for reasons that have nothing to do with irrationality or ignorance.

What are the most important steps powerful institutions have to take in driving sustainable innovation?

For one, I think it requires a fundamental change in the way universities – and especially technical universities as hotbeds of innovation – conceive of their role as mediators between technology and society. This affects every part of their mission, from the way they educate the next generation of engineers and leaders, to the way they steer and reflect on their own research, all the way to their role as spaces of public debate and dialogue about innovation and the future of society.

What does that look like at both TUM and the TUM School of Management?

TUM has recently taken a number of critical steps to put social responsibility at the heart of its technological mission, from novel educational programs such as the Master’s in “Responsibility in Science, Engineering and Technology” to novel institutional units such as the center that I am co-heading, the “Munich Center for Technology in Society”. At the TUM School of Management, we have embraced responsible technology leadership as a core value and put in place additional incentive structures to emphasize the Sustainable Development Goals in our teaching and research. For several years now, we have tried to highlight opportunities for students to engage with what we call Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability (ERS) issues. Students respond very positively to these steps – and they also demand them. This is why it’s so important to be ahead of this trend.

Who benefits from innovation and who loses – and what can business schools do?

Innovation always produces winners and losers — as do other forms of social change. At business schools, we need to become better at providing the resources for firms anticipate and address the social consequences of innovation as part of corporate responsibility culture, e.g. at the nexus of R&D and CSR. This is particularly critical for early-stage start-ups, where traditional CSR mechanisms often don’t stick, and which might scale very rapidly. Second, we need to recognize that innovation is always a redistributive social and political process, not just a techno-economic one. Questions about precarious employment of an entirely new class of drivers for Uber, or about potential genetic or digital discrimination, are deeply political. When we accept how political those questions are, the logical consequence is that those who are affected by them should have a say in it – for example by democratizing innovation. Third, we need to watch out for macro-effects in what some have called a ‘new gilded age.’ Last month, we had two billionaires fly to space, with Jeff Bezos thanking all Amazon employees and customers for making it possible. What does this say about the effects of innovation?

What needs to change to get everyone involved in sustainable innovation?

For me, sustainable innovation has to do with being able to live with the consequences of innovation long-term. People are feeling uneasy with the power of Big Tech and with current debates about vaccination mandates or carbon taxes – all of which can be framed as questions about the long-term relationship between innovation, society, and public policy. To be sure, technology controversies have always existed, but today they seem heightened. This is due to growing social media attention, knowledge pluralization and greater awareness of the unintended consequences of technological progress. This unease occurs because people realize how much technologies shape who we are and how we live, which in turn raises the question how people can be involved in shaping these technologies.

Traditionally, science and technology have been created mostly by small expert communities, such as engineers, scientists, policy-makers, and entrepreneurs. Yet, in the current world, with some unwanted consequences so starkly in our face, this traditional model seems likely insufficient. Sustainable innovation in this sense means not just thinking about sustainable products and services, but also about how to change innovation processes with a view towards public legitimacy, social robustness, inclusiveness, and anticipation of unintended consequences. In other words: How do we want to govern innovation as a driver of social change, whose consequences we will all have to live with?

How is innovation shaped by social, economic, and policy processes?

There is lots to say here. Maybe the most important is that the relationship between innovation and social, economic and political processes cuts both ways. Take digital social media platforms. It is easy to see how different social contexts and regulations have led to quite different uses of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc. across cultural and regulatory, even if these platforms are supposedly global. At the same time, it’s hard to miss how social media has changed how we as societies communicate with one another, how there is an entire new influencer economy, and how election processes differ from, say, 10 years ago. What is more, there is a core set of socio-economic assumptions about who gets to drive this massive social change based on which ideas about “value,” which in the case of social media platforms is decidedly driven by venture capital and scalability logics out of Silicon Valley, combined with the revenue models of the data economy. This multi-layered mutually constitutive dynamic between innovation and social change is what Harvard STS scholar Sheila Jasanoff would call “co-production.”

How can innovation be governed responsibly?

That’s the question, isn’t it? While entrepreneurs move fast and break things, and often disrupt societies at a large scale, the traditional view is that policy-makers and society to play catch-up with technology rather than self-consciously taking the drivers’ seat. To address these shortcomings, the concept of “responsible innovation” has been gaining traction in academic, policy and corporate contexts. There are different frameworks and notions out there – but the basic idea is the same for all of them, and it points to the process dimension of innovation: How can we make meaningful changes “upstream” in innovation trajectories together with those that will be affected “down-stream”? Some frameworks highlight the importance of certain organizational capacities, e.g. for anticipation, reflexivity, inclusiveness, and adaptiveness; others, like the European Commission, emphasize a more formalized “check-box” approach to, e.g., gender balance or ethics certification.

This sounds rather easy – where do you currently see issues?

Most companies still lack a “social responsibility” approach to innovation. This is highly problematic since companies are the driving forces behind innovation in many sectors! You can see this struggle in the very visible public failures and criticisms of initiatives such as Google’s AI Ethics Board or the Facebook Oversight Board. We analyzed this tricky situation for neurotech startups in a recent Nature Biotechnology article (Pfotenhauer et al. 2021).

We thank Prof. Dr. Sebastian Pfotenhauer for this insightful interview.

September 23, 2021

Tackling Sustainability in Research at the TUM School of Management

Six years ago, on September 25 in 2015, at the UN Summit in New York, UN members entered a pact affecting the future of the world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals linking the principle of sustainability with economic, ecological, and social development. As a signatory of the ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’-initiative (PRME), those goals are the leading objective for us at the TUM School of Management. But what does that look like in terms of our research?

Six years ago, on September 25 in 2015, at the UN Summit in New York, UN members entered a pact affecting the future of the world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals linking the principle of sustainability with economic, ecological, and social development. As a signatory of the ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’-initiative (PRME), those goals are the leading objective for us at the TUM School of Management. But what does that look like in terms of our research?

We put our findings into action

To meet the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we increasingly engage in interdisciplinary research projects involving different departments at the TUM School of Management as well as other TUM schools. In doing so, we see more and more scientific publications with an emphasis on sustainability and sustainable development.

In 2019 and 2020, almost one third of peer-reviewed articles evolved around SDG 9 ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.’ For example, Prof. Dr. Alwine Mohnen and Dr. Laura Lang tackled SDG 9 as well as SDG 11 and 12: ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ in their research. In 2019, they published the article  ‘An organizational view on transport transitions involving new mobility concepts and changing customer behavior’ in the journal of Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. In this publication, the two researchers address the need for innovative concepts for the future of transportation as an answer to the ongoing shift in values and individual customer demand. The study concludes with important implications for future mobility: electric and shared vehicles with integrated autonomous driving functions may be the ultimate and financially profitable solution to counteract the increasing problems of urban transportation and satisfy more sophisticated customer requirements.

Besides ecological and economic dimensions, sustainability also embraces the social dimension. To create a physically and psychologically healthier society, we also need social concepts. That is why Dr. Maxim Egorov, Prof. Dr. Armin Pircher Verdorfer, and Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus provide a new perspective on leader development initiatives in their article ‘Taming the emotional dog: Moral intuition and ethically-oriented leader development.’ Their article has been published in the Journal of Business Ethics and shows how important it is to instruct leaders with targeted reflection exercises that focus on their own moral intuitions to foster ethical work cultures and sustainable behavior. These findings encourage our approach to apply this type of development to our executive education programs and thus put SDG 3 ‘Good Health and Well-being’ and SDG 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ into action.

Following on from this, Alexander Kriebitz and Prof. Dr. Christoph Lütge shed light on the responsibilities of corporate actors regarding human rights standards when developing and using AI. In 2020, they published the article ‘Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights: A Business Ethical Assessment’ in the Business and Human Rights Journal. This piece takes the reader by the hand and answers the following questions: What implications do human rights obligations have for companies developing and using AI? And how can AI be applied in human rights-related areas? In elaborating on the relationship between AI, human rights, and human autonomy, the authors bring SDG 1 ‘No Poverty’, SDG 10 ‘Reduced Inequalities’ and SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ forward.

These are only some examples of the daily research relating sustainability that we conduct at TUM School Management.  At our School, we follow the mission to apply our research competencies to contribute to the grand societal challenges while targeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We believe in the practical implications of our research for the achievement of a better future. This is why we work for constantly raising the level of awareness regarding responsible management, ethics, and sustainability among our students and faculty – starting with our  research activities and teaching methods.

September 02, 2021

For Your Career and Our Planet – Six Sigma Environment Green Belt

Read about the TUM online management course that has led students around the world to find data-driven solutions to urban littering problems – and some prime job opportunities.

Have you ever seen a place littered with trash and wondered why no one put a garbage can there? Have you witnessed junk piling up in a public area for weeks without anyone recognizing the problem, developing an action plan and implementing it? Prof. Dr. Holly Ott and Dr. Reiner Hutwelker have experienced that, too. At least, that’s the kind of problem the two TUM lecturers had in mind when they decided to make this very case the focus of their online courses for “Lean Six Sigma Yellow and Green Belt Certification”, featured in our current PRME report. The programs, which teach two levels of a data-based management system virtually, aim to convey some of the key skills and tool sets for sustainable management, both theoretically and practically. And they have been quite successful in doing so. 

More than 300,000 participants from all over the world have already completed TUM’s Yellow Belt program managed by Prof. Ott. The subsequent Green Belt certification, which is acquired through an individual practical project, is typically only open to employees of companies. But here, too, the TUM teaching staff took a new approach as they decided to offer the course to students and job seekers as well. And the response has been tremendous, resulting in top ratings for online training.

“Basically, Lean and Six Sigma are data-driven management systems that have been used to improve business processes for more than 30 years. Arranging theory, methods as well as qualitative and statistical tools into a guideline, their purpose is to directly increase the quality and availability of products and services, reduce the consumption of resources and eliminate waste,” Dr. Hutwelker explains. “This increases customer satisfaction and reduces the company’s costs.” In the Yellow and Green Belt programs offered by TUM via the online platform edX, participants learn how to apply these systems to take action based on statistical analysis rather than personal opinion. Those who master the requirements first earn the “Yellow Belt”, then the “Green Belt” and finally “Black Belt” certifications, which give them more earning power in companies and other organizations around the world.

Students around the world combat pollution with a data-driven approach

Originally, the Green Belt programs were only available to professionals who implemented their own certificate projects in their company as part of the courses, guided by teaching materials and individual online coaching. However, the high demand, even outside the corporate context, prompted the TUM lecturers’ decision to make participation possible for others as well. “The interest in our certified Yellow Belts, especially among students and job seekers, was the impetus for developing a Green Belt for this target group as well,” says Prof. Ott, and Dr. Hutwelker adds, “Our challenge was to formulate an interesting, globally challenging problem that each student can solve individually at home.” Naturally, the topic of environmental littering provided the perfect scenario for this.

“We’ve received great submissions from more than 250 participants from Canada, India, Portugal, Peru, Taiwan, the U.S. and more than 50 other countries within a year of launching,” says Dr. Hutwelker, who leads the Green Belt certification program. “The students first defined the districts, hotspots and peak hours they studied, supported the status quo with images, collected and analyzed field data and questionnaire responses, identified root causes, and finally implemented and evaluated measures against the guidelines provided,” he adds. The results are the same all over the world: people rate the environmental impact of glass higher than that of cigarette butts, and litter already lying around increases people’s willingness to dispose of their own waste.

Among the improvement measures Green Belts implement after their analysis are small education campaigns about the harmfulness of different types of waste, green footprints marking the way to the nearest garbage can, and increasing their visibility. These measures are localized, but usually creative and based on the country’s culture. “It became clear how serious the global waste problem is and what effects it can have – think, for example, of sewers clogged with plastic waste,” Dr. Hutwelker explains. “In one of the hotspots analyzed for a student project in Nigeria, this led to flooding and ultimately a rat infestation.”

More than just numbers: Persuasion and collaboration are part of the process

Logically, persuasion is also an intended part of the package of measures. That’s why, as part of our Six Sigma business projects, the participants are also required to set up a newsletter to convince colleagues and inform the company management about the project progress.  Similarly, the Environment Green Belts are encouraged to seek local support from the respective city administration or the responsible waste management company. “In about 10 percent of the cases, cooperation actually occurs,” Dr. Hutwelker explains. “And the impact of the project is then correspondingly high. Because quite a few local waste problems have already been tackled in this way.”

Demonstrable by figures: Those who apply the methods correctly can bring about real change

In the end, many students who completed the TUM edX course not only took their chance to face the global littering problem hands-on – but were ultimately able to make a real difference in their organizations. “Thanks to the excellent instruction and course structure, I did indeed learn how to apply the methods of Lean and Six Sigma throughout the various business units of my organization,” says Maureen (USA), who earned both a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and Green Belt Certification. “Moreover, I was able to save my company thousands of dollars in material costs by solving process issues.”

Exciting opportunities arise for those who master the challenge

For other graduates, adding the certificate to their CVs and showcasing their methodological skills even led to new career opportunities. “Two months after updating my resume with the certificate on work platforms like LinkedIn, recruiters started contacting me for interviews,” Efi (Greece) emphasizes. Her fellow graduate Jessica, a chemical engineer from Switzerland, shares a similar experience: “Just recently, I got my first job in the continuous improvement department of a major chemical company. Thanks to my knowledge of Lean Six and Sigma acquired from TUMx, I was able to answer all technical questions during my interviews and show my motivation for quality management.” Maggie, another young professionalalso emphasizes that. “Taking these courses gave me confidence and credibility I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she recalls. Ultimately, her certificate not only enabled her to apply for her dream job, but also to shine in her interview. “The process improvement techniques I learned put me on the fast track to contribute and grow professionally.”

It is all about investing in yourself

Of course, acquiring the certificates is a means for young professionals to gain further qualifications beyond their studies and thus get a little closer to their own professional goals. However, according to Dr. Hutwelker, it is always important not only to work toward this, but above all to focus on one’s own development and self-realization. “It’s always worth investing in yourself and being open to knowledge. That’s why you shouldn’t just aim for a certificate, but take in everything new and make it your own by implementing it,” he stresses. “With our online courses, we primarily want to challenge our participants to think about who they are and who they want to be. Giving them the methodical knowledge they need to improve not only their own professional future, but also that of our planet, is truly wonderful.”

Are you ready to embark on a new professional journey and launch your own Green Belt project? If so, be sure to read our PRME report for more information and embark on a new path for your future.

August 18, 2021

“Sustainability Management in Corporations” – How do we Educate Sustainability Leaders of the Future?

In recent years, the general attitude towards sustainability management has changed significantly. For corporations across all industries, incorporating sustainability management into their business strategies is no longer optional; it is now essential to a company’s competitiveness. Approaching the topic, businesses have to cope with environmental, economic and social issues and adapt their strategies to achieve real long-term benefits. Therefore, educating future sustainability leaders is becoming more and more important, with regard to solving the most pressing problems now and in the future. To dive deep into the topic and get to know the key features of sustainability education at TUM, we spoke to Christoph Ratay, a doctoral researcher at TUM who teaches the seminar “Sustainability Management in Corporations”, featured in our latest PRME report.

Why is it so crucial for corporations to invest in sustainability management?

Christoph Ratay: Sustainability has evolved from a non-financial topic to a financial one. A few decades ago, sustainability initiatives were mostly taken up to improve a company’s image, but tended to be isolated from the core business and the financial performance of the company. We definitely see a shift here, with sustainability issues turning into topics of financial relevance.

Nowadays, financial risks and opportunities are directly associated with sustainability-related issues, for example when it comes to attracting new talent, selling products to environmentally conscious younger generations, or when sustainability concerns trigger the transformation of companies’ processes or entire business models.

What has your experience been like in corporate sustainability management?

Christoph Ratay: I am a doctoral researcher at Professor Alwine Mohnen’s Chair of Corporate Management, conducting research on consumer behavior in the circular economy. Before I started working at TUM, I spent close to four years as a corporate sustainability consultant in the Sustainability Services division at KPMG.

Joining TUM, it was important to me to teach a subject I am passionate about and that allows me to share my practical insights, both in terms of content and the network I built in my previous job. For example, we try to invite industry experts as guest speakers who share their insights into sustainability management in corporations.

What is the aim of the seminar?

Christoph Ratay: The main goal of the seminar is to introduce students to key topics in sustainability management in corporations and let them explore sustainability issues they are truly excited about as part of a seminar paper. Throughout the seminar, our participants work in project teams of two. My colleague Theresa Kaiser and I coach the teams and provide guidance, for example to come up with relevant research questions, identify existing literature, and select and apply suitable methods.

What has been the most memorable feedback you have received from your students?

Christoph Ratay: In our experience, students really enjoy finding and exploring their own research topics. We have always received positive feedback for offering them the freedom to choose a topic they are truly interested in. Popular topics include measuring sustainability performance, setting incentives for corporations to become more sustainable, or how to promote sustainable behavior among consumers. As another example, we also introduced a special topic on the link between the pandemic and sustainability issues in the last two semesters.

In addition, we usually receive very positive feedback for our individual coaching sessions. Based on past semesters’ evaluations, these are highly appreciated, as they help our students prepare for their master’s theses later on.

In the end, we always encourage our seminar participants to stay in touch. Almost every semester there are quite a few students who make use of this opportunity and reach out to us for help with their thesis, for general advice, or to get introduced to one of our contacts. Altogether, we definitely have the impression that there is a high level of interest in working in sustainability management after the students complete our seminar.

Why is it important to combine methods from research and practice in the seminar?

Christoph Ratay: Since the seminar is aimed at master’s students, most of them are approaching the end of their time at university. Most likely, after graduating from TUM, they will soon be business leaders themselves. It is therefore important that, in addition to the academic relevance of the topic, we also establish a link to practice in order to train our future leaders on sustainability issues. This way, I think we can have a big impact on future sustainability management in corporations.

What will be the most pressing sustainability issues going forward?

Christoph Ratay: This is a tricky question. The obvious answer –  at least for now – would be climate change. However, the sustainability landscape is constantly evolving. For example, as a result of the pandemic, a lot of employee-related social sustainability issues such as physical and mental health receive much more attention now than they did 18 months ago – and rightfully so. When we talk about sustainability, we talk about people, planet, and profit. It’s key for corporations to prepare for and contribute to the constantly evolving sustainability agenda in order to be true sustainability leaders.

July 06, 2021

“Social Entrepreneurship Lab”: Coaching the Social Leaders of Tomorrow

Social enterprises aim to change the world for the better. Finding long-term solutions for problems in education, health, poverty, employment, climate change and environmental protection is the main goal of social entrepreneurs. Hence, educating TUM School of Management students in entrepreneurial skills to solve today’s social issues is important to create a sustainable future. For this purpose, our master’s program offers the key module “Advanced Topics in Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Social Entrepreneurship Lab” to teach our students how to become responsible leaders of tomorrow.

Approaching the world’s pressing social problems with innovative and pragmatic strategies is a key talent of social entrepreneurs. Aiming for social change, social enterprises put their main focus on improving society while maximizing their profit.

To drive change, social entrepreneurs also constantly seek to educate themselves and other people to learn more about sustainable development and to improve their skills to reach their goals.

The pioneer of social entrepreneurship is the American entrepreneur Bill Drayton, who coined the term in the 1970s. Drayton is the founder of Ashoka, an organization that supports and fosters social entrepreneurs all over the globe. Another famous example is Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, who visited the TUM in 2020 to talk about social businesses and entrepreneurship. The Bangladeshi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 in recognition of his introduction of microfinance and microcredit to help people find their way out of poverty.

Nowadays, more and more social start-ups are emerging. Brands like Recup or Polarstern Energie, which address environmental issues, have become successful in driving their causes forward. Recup developed a reusable cup system to reduce waste and wants to revolutionize the packaging industry. Polarstern Energie is a Munich based enterprise that promotes green energy to support the energy transition. What both have in common is a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to think outside the box and develop innovative ideas to actively bring about social change. Those are qualities we want to impart to our students at TUM School of Management.

In the key module “Social Entrepreneurship Lab” we enhance our students’ knowledge and skills to become the social entrepreneurs of the future. In a practice-based seminar, our master’s students learn more about social entrepreneurship and apply their knowledge to real cases by collaborating with social enterprises from Munich and all around the world. Thereby, our students help find solutions for cross-disciplinary social issues and support the enterprises in their daily work. That is why the course is open to students from various Munich universities, the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and the Munich University of Applied Sciences (HM) and is run together with representatives from the Social Entrepreneur Akademie (SEA). With its high level of research opportunities and responsible management training, the program is on track to educate sustainable and social entrepreneurs capable of actively changing our future.

June 15, 2021

Becoming a Successful Sustainable Entrepreneur: How a Key Module Can Kick-start Your Sustainable Career Path

At TUM School of Management, we are on a mission to achieve sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Guiding entrepreneurship towards sustainability is essential for that. As part of our master’s programs, we established the key module ‘Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Theoretical Foundations’. In this seminar, we go beyond a simplistic win-win rhetoric, sharing profound knowledge in sustainable entrepreneurship research, discussing the difficulties of balancing the triple bottom line, the gap between sustainable entrepreneurial intentions and action, the role of culture, gender and diversity.

We spoke with Clara Reinartz, Fabienne Demmerle and Kristina Stojanovska, three of our students, about their views on sustainability in teaching at TUM School of Management.

An entrepreneurial university teaching sustainability

Fabienne Demmerle first discovered her interest in sustainability in the first semester of her master’s program, when she learned about sustainable entrepreneurship in her Qualitative Research course with Prof. Belz, who holds the Chair of Corporate Sustainability and is the PRME Sustainability Manager. Clara Reinartz on the other hand found her fascination for the possibility to generate social impact with entrepreneurial means through an internship. Through her sociology studies, she had already acquired theoretical knowledge about the dynamics of societal change, social justice, and inclusion as well as environmental sociology. Entrepreneurship, however, had remained uncharted territory for her. “Since TUM School of Management is known for being an entrepreneurial university, I figured it would be a good place to fill this knowledge gap,” Clara explains. With the Master in Consumer Science at the TUM School of Management, she found a program in which she could learn about simultaneously addressing social as well as ecological problems with one business concept.

Kristina Stojanovska also had no experience with any academic courses targeting sustainability prior to starting her master’s degree at TUM School of Management. She says: “I really wanted to get a good grasp of the basics, both in terms of theory and practice. The module ‘Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Theoretical Foundations’ offered a comprehensive introduction to the theories underpinning sustainable entrepreneurship.”

Within the course, the emphasis on group work and practical exercises ensures that lessons are interactive and that different opinions and approaches are taken into account. Kristina continues: “Our classes are very diverse and there are always multiple opinions to be heard.” Clara adds: “On the one hand, I have gained a lot of necessary hands-on knowledge to get involved with entrepreneurship. On the other hand, I have personally really benefitted from looking at the phenomenon of sustainable and social entrepreneurship through a theoretical lens as an emerging field in research.” Fabienne agrees as she explains: “I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of theory and practice throughout the program.”

To ensure that our students get to individualize their timetables according to their interests, all our master’s programs offer a variety of courses to choose from, allowing students to select what suits their interests. Clara, for instance, mainly focused on sustainable entrepreneurship but complemented those seminars with classes such as Environmental Policy, Renewable Energy Systems in the Global South and Business Ethics. “This flexibility in the selection of courses led to a diverse course composition and allowed me to network and get to know people from different fields. Especially in the context of sustainability, which requires holistic approaches and solutions, this interactive and interdisciplinary teaching is important,” Clara states. Student initiatives around sustainability complement the teaching aspect with a support system for students who want to take their knowledge a step further and start their own businesses.

“Choosing the sustainability module of the master’s program will equip you with some valuable tools,” says Fabienne. Kristina concludes: “If a student is motivated to make use of all the resources provided by TUM School of Management and the respective program, they are well on their way to becoming a successful sustainable entrepreneur.”

June 2, 2021

TUM’s Sustainability Hotspot

Today, one billion people lack access to electricity, making it one of the grand societal challenges of our time. As a PRME signatory, we are striving towards a sustainable future through responsible management education – including not only the energy transformation in industrialized nations, but also the development of new, sustainable energy systems in regions that have so far been completely undersupplied. Following our mission to create solutions on our journey towards sustainability at TUM, we founded the TUM SEED Center at the beginning of 2020. Whether you want to expand your knowledge or directly contribute to the topic of “Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development in the Global South” – this is the place for you.

TUM SEED offers higher education at the convergence of sustainable energies and entrepreneurship while conducting research to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

TUM SEED offers higher education at the convergence of sustainable energies and entrepreneurship while conducting research to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As a Center of Excellence in Research and Teaching, TUM SEED offers higher education at the convergence of sustainable energies and entrepreneurship while conducting research to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With the long-term initiative, we at TUM aim at contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal No. 7: access to clean and affordable energy for everyone.

The core team of the TUM SEED Center is composed of six great minds at TUM: Prof. Dr. Frank-Martin Belz as Director, Johannes Winklmaier as Project Coordinator, Prof. Dr. Walter de Vries as Director of the PhD Program, Clement Bossard as Assistant for the Living Labs, Michelle Zorombory as Assistant Project Coordinator, and Sofia Abid for Communications.

Research and teaching with impact in Living Labs

By creating “Living Labs”, the TUM SEED Center and its partner universities provide rural areas in the Global South with sustainable energy systems. At the same time, master’s students benefit from experimental and practical learning opportunities, international exchange and research that goes beyond borders. The goal is to create a direct impact on communities, as well as on research and education – by ensuring energy access and improving living conditions.

Since the Living Labs will be located in the countries of the respective partner universities (Peru, Ghana, Ethipia, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, India and Indonesia) they will enable all participating higher education institutions and their students to acquire a high level of expertise in development work and collaboration without the need to travel far. To get this done, Community Interest Companies (CIC) install eight mini-grids, which in turn are affiliated with the eight partner universities in the Global South.

Until 2024, the Living Labs will be implemented in a stepwise process – integrating community members in each step to co-create, validate, test and further develop new technologies in this setting. Since the installation and expansion of the sustainable energy system is a technical challenge, while the establishment and operation of a CIC is an entrepreneurial one, the project provides an interesting framework to merge research and technology with entrepreneurship.

The TUM SEED Center estimates that each Living Lab will provide energy services for approximately 1,000 people. This means that by the end of the project, around 8,000 people will have access to sustainable energy – with newly educated master’s students and doctoral candidates acting as catalysts for the program.

International and interdisciplinary doctoral and master’s programs

Going hand in hand with the Living Labs program, the TUM SEED center launched the interdisciplinary doctoral and master’s programs in “Sustainable Energies and Entrepreneurship in the Global South”. Reliable water supply for both agriculture and households usually depends on the availability of energy: While functioning water pumps ensure clean and affordable water for communities, irrigation water provides for food production.

The doctoral and master’s programs offer an educational space to experiment and deep-dive into the topics of sustainable energy, water, food production and entrepreneurship. Consequently, the curriculum of the master’s program is designed to convey the basic foundation of those fields as well as the main developments and future challenges of the latest generation of mini-grids.

To further ensure international exchange, leading experts in the context of the Global South as well as visiting professors and post-doc researchers from partner universities offer their students valuable insights into sustainable energy projects and entrepreneurship in their home countries.

Together, the doctoral candidates, post-doc researchers, scholars and master’s students complete the interplay of the Living Labs, the interdisciplinary research and the impact of sustainable teaching methods.

You can find more information on the TUM SEED Center and its programs here.

May 19, 2021

Our Journey Towards Sustainability at the TUM School of Management

We are striving towards a sustainable future through responsible management education. As a PRME signatory, the TUM School of Management is part of a global movement bringing educational sustainability to over 800 business and management schools around the globe. In the past few weeks, we introduced our latest PRME report and our newly established PRME Office on our website. Following up, we asked Holder of the Chair of Corporate Sustainability and PRME Sustainability Manager, Prof. Dr. Belz, to reflect on our journey towards sustainability at TUM.

Prof. Dr. Belz, you have been teaching at TUM for 18 years now – how would you describe your own journey towards sustainability at the university?

PROF. DR. BELZ: In the first couple of years after my appointment in 2003, I was considered “Mr. Sustainability” at TUM School of Management. Back then, sustainability was compartmentalized to a certain extent. Whenever there was an inquiry relating to responsibility and sustainability, my colleagues at TUM School of Management would pass it on to me. I was happy to fulfill this role. I remember a situation at one of our early retreats for faculty members. Over a beer, one of my colleagues in the finance department said to me – half-jokingly, half-seriously – “You know, Frank, you teach the students ethics, responsibility, and sustainability, while I teach them to get a job, pursue a career and make money.” This two-world view was shattered during the financial and economic crisis of 2008. Many of my colleagues started realizing that the market system, driven by economic growth, was not sustainable in the long run.

How did you start implementing sustainability at TUM School of Management?

PROF. DR. BELZ: Signing the PRME as TUM School of Management was an essential trigger for integrating sustainability into research and teaching. Since the release of the first status report, much has happened here. Our respected Dean started emphasizing the importance of sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals at our regular faculty meetings – including to me. Thanks to his support and that of many other colleagues, sustainability moved to the core of TUM School of Management. And we have since pursued a strategy of institutionalization rather than compartmentalization. Great efforts began to incorporate responsibility and sustainability on all levels of the TUM School of Management.

What do those efforts look like?

PROF. DR. BELZ: At the normative level, mission statements, for example, highlight the management education of ‘responsible talents’. Our Strategy 2021, on the other hand, emphasizes a strong research agenda with implications for major societal challenges. At the operational level, we introduced a new bachelor’s program in Management and Technology, with a focus on renewable resources. And one of the most important and strategic decisions we make is hiring new faculty members. Gender, diversity and sustainability play an important role in these key decisions.

Where does TUM School of Management currently stand on the journey towards sustainability?

PROF. DR. BELZ: This third PRME report shows just how far we have come, from sustainability as a ‘one-man-show’ to sustainability as an integral part of research and teaching across the whole faculty. While we have already achieved much, PRME is rather like an Ironman Triathlon: a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bicycle ride and a 42.2 km run all in one, calling for great stamina and determination. We at TUM School of Management are committed to PRME. We have already started our Ironman and we are determined to finish it with the help of our team and supporters.

We are looking forward to following and supporting the journey towards sustainability at TUM School of Management.

May 05, 2021

The PRME Office – A Task Force to Shape our Sustainability Strategy

The vision of PRME is clear: transform business and management education, research and leadership globally, while promoting awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals, and developing the responsible business leaders of tomorrow. TUM School of Management has been a PRME signatory since 2015. In April, we already introduced our latest PRME report here. Over the years, we realized that we needed to start assessing the impact and effectiveness of our measurements to implement greater sustainability in a more systematic and quantitative manner: Today we present to you our new PRME Office.


Responsible Management Education at TUM School of Management

PRME stands for Principles for Responsible Management Education – a platform bringing educational sustainability to over 800 business and management schools worldwide, including the TUM School of Management.

The PMRE-Office: (from left) Dr. Mattia Marchesini, Prof. Gunther Friedl, Dr. Christina Green, Prof. Frank-Martin Belz and Esther Salvi.

Being part of the Technical University of Munich allows us to benefit from a multidisciplinary environment and to be part of a holistic strategy that serves as a roadmap for our sustainability journey. We are committed to shaping an ethical, responsible and sustainable education for the leaders of tomorrow and keep reporting our PRME-related activities with great pride.

A Clear Strategy to Boost Our Sustainable Impact

After qualitatively analyzing our PRME-related efforts for the past five years, the need for us to start collecting relevant data in more detail became increasingly evident in 2020. That is why, since the beginning of this year, we’ve been focusing on that with our newly established PRME Office: With an in-depth analysis of our teaching and research activities and by monitoring the dialog with both internal and external stakeholders, the PRME Office defines a clear strategy for boosting the sustainable impact of our institution. “Our goal is to educate our students to be sustainable leaders of tomorrow,” PRME Sustainability Assistant Esther Salvi explains. At the moment, the team is running two project studies with students who are collecting systematic information about sustainability in our teaching modules. “The aim is to develop a tool to analyze the sustainability of our modules both qualitatively and quantitatively,” Mrs. Salvi continues.

Led by our Dean and PRME Office Director, Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl, the taskforce is composed of five additional team members – each filling a different position. “We work very closely with each other,” says Mrs. Salvi who supports the PRME Sustainability Manager Prof. Dr. Frank-Martin Belz during her doctoral studies at the Chair of Corporate Sustainability. While the PRME Office Director Prof. Dr. Friedl is the reference person regarding long-term strategic decisions related to the school’s sustainability, Prof. Dr. Frank-Martin Belz is responsible for the short- and medium-term strategy. As the holder of the Chair of Corporate Sustainability, Prof. Dr. Belz has been teaching and conducting international as well as interdisciplinary research on sustainability innovation and marketing at TUM for 18 years now.

“I coordinate the data collection and sustainability assessment of research and teaching at TUM School of Management,” the PRME Sustainability Assistant explains. Together, she and Prof. Dr. Belz write the PRME Report. Additionally, Dr. Christina Green is responsible for the PRME Quality Management. Assisted by Dr. Mattia Marchesini, Dr. Green takes care of the school’s AACSB re-accreditation and examines how the students rate sustainability, responsibility and ethics in teaching. All PRME communication matters are settled by Claudia Ferringo. According to Mrs. Salvi, the PRME Office is currently planning to expand: “We want to include more people who could contribute to enhance the value of our sustainable activities and strategy.”

For now, the six heads of our PRME Office shape our sustainability strategy with the aim of tackling the grand societal challenges and transmitting our core values and purpose to the sustainable leaders of tomorrow: our students. The complete report on our 2019 – 2020 activities is available here.

Apr 22, 2021

Responsible Management Education – Making Sustainability a Priority

Today is Earth Day! Every year on April 22nd, over 175 countries contribute to increasing the global appreciation for nature and raising awareness for our consumer behavior. Earth Day is about taking responsibility and making sustainability a priority. Therefore, we could not think of a better day to introduce our ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’ (PRME) report – the global movement transforming business and management education through research and leadership.


What does PRME mean?

Founded in 2007, the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) is a platform which brings educational sustainability to schools around the world. The United Nations-supported initiative leads the vision to create a global movement and drive thought leadership on responsible management education to advance sustainable development.

To accomplish this, PRME has engaged over 800 business and management schools worldwide – TUM School of Management being one of them. PRME works through the Six Principles: Purpose, Values, Method, Research, Partnership and Dialog. The goal is to draw attention to the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), align academic institutions with the work of the UN Global Compact and ensure that signatories provide future leaders with the skills needed to balance economic as well as sustainability goals.

Sustainability at the TUM School of Management

At TUM School of Management, we are committed to delivering responsible management education based on high-level research. Over the last years, TUM has been integrating sustainability in all areas of teaching, research and procedures. Operating within a technical university grants us as a management school the opportunity to interlink different disciplines and contribute to TUM’s mission to create a holistic strategy to act as a roadmap for our sustainability journey. The goal is to exploit the full sustainability potential of TUM across all key action areas, ranging from research and teaching to entrepreneurship, campus and operations. TUM School of Management Dean Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl explains: “Together with our colleagues we are able to contribute to solutions to the grand societal challenges, such as climate change, digitization, infrastructure, urbanization and food security. We believe that we can benefit society with our research and the education of individuals who will become tomorrow’s leaders.”

While we unite management and technology in our educational approach at the TUM School of Management, we have formed an internationally renowned entrepreneurship group with a space to gather ideas and put them into practice by creating new companies. Many alumni use this foundation and combine it with ideas for a more sustainable future. “Since we started reporting to PRME, we have been able to expand our commitment to working on the Sustainable Development Goals”, says Prof. Dr. Friedl. To broaden our interdisciplinary approach at the TUM School of Management and fulfill our promise, we have launched new research initiatives, such as the SEED Center, and created new specializations within our degree programs, such as Renewable Resources or Medicine.

“This report presents details of our commitment to society, responsible management education and outreach. We are proud of how much we have achieved so far. In the coming years, we will develop an overarching sustainability strategy and further deepen our commitment to the core values of the UN-PRME initiative”, concludes Dean Prof. Dr. Friedl.

Stay tuned as we will be introducing some of the report’s highlights on our channels in the upcoming weeks and dedicate more space to the topic of sustainability!

The complete report is available here.