Back to the university

The Berlin-based online service is focusing on students and has won praise from the German government

Internet companies are increasingly penetrating areas that were previously under state control. Among the most sought-after institutions are undoubtedly the universities. Not only do they promise lucrative investment opportunities, the young target group is also almost united within the walls of the learning factories. Online companies rely primarily on the cooperation of public and private partners.

Just in time for the start of the winter semester, another service is entering the market, and on an equally international level. The university network E-Loft provides its services simultaneously from Berlin, Paris, Rome, Milan and Madrid. According to the company, the target group is "Students between the ages of 17 and 27". The concept is not new, but the application is: similar to the New York city magazine village voice, E-Loft tries to stand out from the sea of similar service providers with service and information. Admittedly, the chances are not bad, as such Internet startups are also in vogue with the German government.

At the heart of E-Loft’s concept is cooperation between private companies and the public sector," explained Hilsberg. The network does not only want to teach about clubbing, sports, concerts, E-Loft is also to develop into a platform for academic matters. Together with the official Internet portal of the capital, discussion forums are to be offered in the coming months, for example with university professors and education politicians. By cooperating with the city, the E-Loft team also wants to make it easier for users to find their way through the jungle of authorities by providing tips on registration, housing subsidies and BAfoG.

The company has so far been able to establish initial networks between universities. For example, the Technical University of Munich, the universities of Biccoca (Milan), and the University of Milan (Italy) are participating in the project. La Sapienza (Rome), Autonoma and Juan Carlos (both Madrid), London Business School and the University of Southampton on the project to optimize science transfer between students, faculties and universities. E-Loft’s partners include Deutsche Bahn, Ricardo, Financial Times Deutschland, AOK and Bertelsmann, whose foundation is one of the nation’s leading spokespersons for cooperation between the private sector and the education sector.

The SPD’s education policy spokesman in the Bundestag, Stephan Hilsberg, endorsed the initiative in an interview with Telepolis on Tuesday. Hilsberg said that one should not think that the state was abdicating its responsibility by requiring such companies to do so. The fact that networking between universities and industry is being taken over by private initiatives does not worry the SPD politician either.

"These private service companies, like the rest of the economy, act out of self-interest", at the same time they relieve the public hand but. "This frees up resources for other important areas", Hilsberg explained, but in the same breath called for vigilance. For example, in the case of the engineering sciences, supervisory duties had been lacking in the past years. "This has already caused problems, because only those areas have received support that seemed economically viable", said Hilsberg.