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Doctoral Student


About me

After growing up on the beautiful Bavarian countryside and studying in Munich, I moved to Switzerland and gained several years of professional experience in Finance, Accounting and Auditing. Since October 2012 I am a Ph.D. student at the Chair of Technology and Innovation Management (ETH Zurich) and my research focus is on Finance & Strategy topics around start-ups.

Research Interests

• Founding Angels, Business Angels
• Start-up/Spin-off creation & Strategy development
• Financing Start-Ups and SMEs
• Venture Capital
• Technology Transfer

Other activities

• Soccer (active and via remote control)
• Snowboard
• Running

Journal articles

Würmseher, M. 2017. To each his own: Matching different entrepreneurial models to the academic scientist's individual needs. Technovation, 59 (January 2017): 1-17

This paper presents a comparative case study of academic group leaders, active in three different scientific fields at a leading Swiss technical university. It examines the obstacles that prevent scientists from commercializing their technologies and how they can be reduced. Traditional models of technology transfer assume that scientists prefer either to 'go it alone' and become entrepreneurs (the inventor entrepreneur model) or to let go of their technologies to people interested in their commercialization (the surrogate entrepreneur model). The results of qualitative research suggest that these two models capture the extremes of a continuum populated by a variety of intermediate situations where scientists are unwilling completely to let go of their findings, but also do not want to become full time entrepreneurs. This results in considerable commercial potential that is unexploited. The Founding Angels approach might be a solution to this problem; it is designed for academics in these intermediate situations. The study contributes to the literature on university-industry technology transfer and should be useful for practitioners and scientists interested in maximizing the synergies between academia and industry.

Würmseher. M. & Firmin, L. 2017. Nanobiotech in big pharma: a business perspective. Future Medicine: Nanomedicine, 12 (5): 535 - 543

Since the early 2000s, numerous publications have presented major scientific opportunities that can be achieved through integrating insights from the area of nanotech into biotech (nanobiotech). This paper aims to explore the economic significance that nanobiotech has gained in the established pharmaceutical industry (big pharma). The empirical investigation draws on patent data as well as product revenue data; and to put the results into perspective, the amounts are compared with the established/traditional biotech sector. The results indicate that the new technology still plays only a minor role – at least from a commercial perspective.

Festel, G., Breitenmoser, P., Würmseher, M., Kratzer, J. 2015. Early stage technology investments of pre-seed venture capitalists. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 7/4: 370-395, ISSN: 1742-5360

Although technology transfer offices at universities are widely installed, in many cases, inventions made in academia still struggle to be commercialised. This so-called technology transfer gap can be overcome by professionalised pre-founding activities. Whereas prevailing investment models, like business angels or traditional venture capitalists, usually tie up their business activity on already founded companies, pre-seed venture capitalists (PSVC) attempt to align inventions made at academia with entrepreneurship by founding start-ups. Against this background, this study aims at examining the perceptions of deficiencies of the prevailing investment models and the role of the PSVCs in the pre-founding phase. PSVC companies operating in the biotechnology and nanotechnology area and with a broader technology approach have been analysed within a multi case study research. The results show that based on the technological scope and the financial source of the investment activity, four different types of PSVC business models can be identified and described. Technology transfer offices at universities and research institutions supporting the founding process of start-ups can use the findings to develop and execute specific partnership strategies with these PSVC types.

Festel , G., Würmseher, M., Rammer, C. 2014. Price Comparison. A Report Looking into Future Biofuels Production Cost Against Fossil Fuels, Focusing Specifically on 2015 and 2020. Biofuels International magazine, Vol. 8, No. 5: 67-68
Festel , G., Würmseher, M., Rammer, C., Boles, E. and Bellof, M. 2014. Modelling Production Cost Scenarios for Biofuels and Fossil Fuels in Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 66: 242-253, ISSN: 0959-6526

Competitive production costs compared to conventional fuels are imperative for biofuels to gain market shares, as current tax advantages for biofuels are only temporary. Comparing production costs of different biofuels with fossil fuels is a challenge due to the complexity of influencing factors. The objective of this research paper is threefold: 1) to project future bio-fuel feedstock prices based on the crude oil price development, the price index for agricultural products, growth in world population, growth in wealth per capita income, and change in energy consumption per capita, 2) to simulate production costs under consideration of likely economies of scale from scaling-up production size and technological learning and 3) to compare different biofuels and fossil fuels by scenario analysis. A calculation model for biofuel production is used to analyse projected production costs for different types of biofuels in Europe for 2015 and 2020. Unlike engineering oriented bottom–up approaches that are often used in other biofuel studies, the macro-economic top–down approach applied in this study enables an economic comparison and discussion of various fuel types based on reference scenarios of crude oil prices of €50, €100, €150 and €200 per barrel. Depending on the specific raw material prices as well as the conversion costs, the analysis delivered a differentiated view on the production costs and thus on the competitiveness of each individual type of fuel. The results show that 2nd generation biofuels are most likely to achieve competitive production costs mid- to long-term when taking into account the effects from technological learning and production scale size as well as crude oil price scenarios between €50 and €200 per barrel for both reference years. In all crude oil price scenarios, bioethanol from lignocellulosic raw materials as well as biodiesel from waste oil are associated with high cost saving potentials which enable them to outperform fossil fuels and 1st generation biofuels.

Festel, G. and Würmseher, M. 2014. Benchmarking of energy and utility infrastructures in industrial parks. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 70: 15-26, ISSN: 0959-6526

Based on technological progress in conjunction with globalisation, the role of industrial sites has been changing and a cost competitive infrastructure is decisive for a company's long-term success. This article will introduce an innovative approach to benchmark maintenance and electric energy costs to produce and distribute electric energy, steam, industrial and drinking water and compressed air by an empirical examination. In this study, a benchmarking evaluation within 9 chemical parks and chemical related industrial parks was performed. In total, 23 key performance indicators in the area of maintenance and electric energy costs of production and distribution were defined and calculated based on data collected from the participants. To compare the different infrastructures, the most important key performance indicators were adjusted by correction factors. Thus, the correction factors, which have to be very specifically defined for each area, increase the acceptance and applicability of the benchmarking methodology. In consequence, the benchmarking, using correction factors, enabled the comparison of different infrastructures and a justified discussion based on comparable and comprehensible figures. Here, the benchmarking results showed large differences in performance levels, indicating that there are still significant cost saving potentials in some industrial parks. In practice, this new approach provides a robust guideline for practitioners in analysing and advancing the competitiveness of infrastructures on a solid theoretical foundation and also supplies a valuable contribution to policymakers and academics.

Festel, G. and Würmseher, M. 2014. Benchmarking of industrial park infrastructures in Germany. Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 21, No. 6: 854-883, ISSN: 1463-5771

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the operational performance of industrial park infrastructures in Germany to find first indications for cost saving potentials. Design/methodology/approach – Between 2006 and 2007, six chemical parks and chemical related industrial parks in Germany participated in a benchmarking study with focus on operation and maintenance of buildings, communication infrastructures and traffic infrastructures. Based on data analysis in combination with workshops, numerous key performance indicators were defined and calculated. Findings – To compare the different complexities of the analysed infrastructures, the most important key performance indicators were adjusted using correction factors defined and verified during the workshops. This made a discussion based on comparable and comprehensible figures possible which increased the acceptance and applicability of the benchmarking methodology. The benchmarking results showed large differences in performance levels, indicating that there are significant cost saving potentials in some industrial parks. Research limitations/implications – The comparability may remain limited due to the partly insufficient availability of data from the participants. Other limitations are due to the small number of investigated industrial parks and the focus of the benchmarking study on Germany. Originality/value – The developed benchmark and best practice methodology is well suited to evaluate best practice in the field of industrial park infrastructures. It is important for industrial parks to understand the individual performance level and to adapt best practice in all areas.

Festel, G., Würmseher, M. and Rammer, C. . 2014. Scaling and Learning Effects of Biofuels Conversion Technologies. Energy Technology, Vol. 2, No. 7: 612-617

The convergence in production costs between biofuels and fossil fuels may be driven by an increase of the market price for crude oil on the one hand and by a decrease of the production costs for alternative fuels on the other. Whereas the price for fossil fuels mainly depends on the price of crude oil, the conversion costs often have a decisive impact on fuels produced from biomass. This study shows that the total conversion costs can be primarily reduced by scaling effects. Therefore, for all discussed types of biofuels, the total conversion costs can be reduced by a factor of ten, solely through scale economies associated with upscaling of the production plant size from 10 kt to 500 kt. In contrast, between 2005 and 2020, the expected reduction of the conversion costs attributable to learning effects is approximately one half, resulting from the learning curve factors during this time period. Although 2nd generation biofuels have been closely linked to higher conversion costs in comparison to 1st generation biofuels, this gap is expected to almost vanish over the next decade.

Festel , G., Würmseher, M., Rammer, C., Boles, E. and Bellof, M. 2013. Modelling Production Cost Scenarios for Biofuels and Fossil Fuels in Europe. ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 13-075 (September 15, 2013)

This paper presents the results of a calculation model for biofuel production costs in 2015 and 2020 based on raw material price projections and considering scale and learning effects. Distinguishing six types of biofuels, the paper finds that scale economies and learning effects are critical for 2nd generation biofuels to become competitive. In case these effects can be utilized, cost saving potentials for 2nd generation biofuels are significant.

Festel, G. and Würmseher, M. 2013. Challenges and Strategies for Chemical/Industrial Parks in Europe. Journal of Business Chemistry, Vol. 10, No. 2: 59-66

Festel, G., Würmseher, M. and Cattaneo, G. 2013. Valuation of Early Stage High-tech Start-up Companies. International Journal of Business, Vol. 18, No. 3: 216-231

Valuating start-ups, especially at early stages, is a challenge given the lack of historical data and many uncertain factors about the future. This article presents a methodology for the valuation of early stage start-ups that we have proven in practice. The risk linked To a start-up is expressed through an individual beta coefficient as important component of the discounting factor within a discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation based on the data in a business plan. Core of this methodology is the development of an evaluation framework for the individual adjustment of the beta coefficient that is applicable to early stage start-ups. This was shown by applying the methodology to 16 early stage start-ups in the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, medical technology and clean technology, which provided an easy-to-handle and comprehensible comparison of different investment options for early stage investors

Books / Book chapters

Boles, E., Festel, G. and Würmseher, M. 2014. Butalco als Spin-off der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, 294-298. in: Schilling, K. (Ed.) Erfinden – Patentieren – Verwerten: Praxisbuch für Erfinder aus Hochschulen. Springer. Heidelberg

Eine Firma, die aus einer Universität oder Hochschule heraus gegründet wird, bezeichnet man als akademisches Spin-off oder auch Start-up. Bei Hochtechnologiegründungen spielen Patente eine außerordentlich wichtige Rolle, sei es für das Einwerben von Beteiligungskapital oder für das Bestehen der Firma gegen die etablierte Konkurrenz. Häufig haben Firmengründer als Angehörige der Hochschule die patentgeschützte, neue Technologie selbst entwickelt und möchten sich nun auch um die Weiterentwicklung und Vermarktung kümmern.

Festel , G., Bellof, M., Würmseher, M., Rammer, C. and Boles, E. . 2014. Calculation of raw material prices and conversion costs for biofuels, 93-115. in: A.D. Padula, O.I.B. Santos, M.S. dos Santos, D. Borenstein (Eds.), Liquid Biofuels: Emergence, Development and Prospects, Lecture Notes in Energy Bd. 27, London

The current taxation benefits for biofuels are only temporary. Therefore, biofuel production costs need to be able to compete with those of conventional fuels in order to gain market share in the future. However, highly complex influencing factors make a comparison of biofuel production costs with those of fossil fuels challenging. This chapter has three major goals: (1) a projection of future feedstock prices for biofuels based on the development of the price for crude oil, (2) a simulation of the effects of likely economies of scale from scaling-up production size and technological learning on production costs and (3) a scenario analysis comparing different biofuels and fossil fuels. European biofuel production costs for 2015 as well as 2020 are projected based on a calculation model for biofuel production. Our scenarios assume prices for crude oil between Euro 50 and Euro 200 per barrel for both reference years. Our results indicate that mid- to long-term, second-generation biofuels are very likely to achieve competitive production costs, if technological learning and economies of scale are factored in. Bioethanol made from lignocellulosic biomass and biodiesel from waste oil promise the highest cost-saving potential in all crude price scenarios and are capable of outperforming fossil fuels and first-generation biofuels in the future.