Klaus-Martin Meyer: Dr. Bürger, you are the manager of the Innovation Financing Unit at the Fraunhofer Center in Leipzig. Could you please briefly introduce yourself and your work?
Dr. Robin Bürger: I am a qualified banker, and after finishing my studies in business I completed a PhD in the field of Entrepreneurial Finance. In 2010 I started as a project manager in the Innovation Financing Unit at the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy in Leipzig. Since 2015 I have led this same unit, focusing on science-based projects in the fields of Crowdfunding, Crowd Business Models and Investment Readiness.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Currently you are supervising the project “crowdFANding – Südkurve beibt!” as an academic partner. What is this project all about and how did this collaboration come to be?
Dr. Robin Bürger: As a member of FC Carl Zeiss I am familiar with the debate surrounding the stadium reconstruction in Jena. After plans to relocate the loyal fans from their “Football Homeland” in the South Curve to the North Curve on the opposite side became known, I recognized the potential to support “crowdFANding – SÜDKURVE HAS TO STAY!” through my position as an academic. Now the initiative has attracted many supporters and much media attention, and has collected money for possible incoming additional costs for the purpose of saving the Jena South Curve.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: crowdFANding is being technically implemented with help from the expertise of Dr. Willfort in Graz. How did this collaboration come about? Was a local cooperation not the first thought, given that established crowdfunding platforms operate in the direct vicinity of Leipzig and Dresden?
Dr. Robin Bürger: Building on great experiences from previous EU project initiatives, we prompted Dr. Willfort to submit an offer in the same way we did other local operating crowdfunding platforms, experts so to say. With the individual layout, the cost-performance ratio and particularly the international implementation concept in mind– for example, crowdFANding.net is available in 16 languages–, we decided to take on Innovation Service Network as a technical partner.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: In 2007 the community myfootballclub.co.uk in the UK bought a football association. In 2014 an international crowd enabled SC Eibar to advance to the first Spanish division. In the same year Osnabrücker football fans saved the license for the third league within the framework of a crowdfunding project. Similar financings are happening in Finland and Scotland. On the other hand, crowdfinancings for software companies from the football business have a hard time in equity based crowdfunding platforms. Various funding projects in Germany and the UK do not reach their goal and end up failing. Is the crucial success factor here the established fanbase of the football clubs? And what, if anything, has to be provided in the future for such undertakings?
Dr. Robin Bürger: You are addressing important questions regarding the academic supervision of “crowdFANding – SÜDKURVE HAS TO STAY!”. In the last months we laid the basis for the upcoming campaigns in the German and international football community by holding workshops, presentations and protests combined with the help of 70 ambassadors from the active fan scene. The first visible support, for example from the South Tribunal Alliance Dortmund (Bündnis Südtribune Dortmund), the band HEAVEN SHALL BURN or betting companies, was remarkable. We are going to publish the success factors – supplemented by primary data from the bilingual online questionnaire – after the completion of the project.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Will successful “crowdFANdings“ continue to fire up the topic in football or will the financing method be reserved for frustrating, exceptional circumstances, e.g. for saving football associations? If so, are there enquiries from the football division for further projects?
Dr. Robin Bürger: Yes, there are already concrete enquiries for crowdFANding II. To put it precisely, it is our avowed goal that engaged fans of other clubs, regardless of the sport or nationality, use this tool we’ve developed over the past eight months. It has been proven that the initiative is able to give a voice to fan projects and puts fans in a place to financially implement these projects. The remarkable start to the campaign, with €36 000 and 3,000 Facebook likes in three days, exceeded expectations. That testifies to the solidarity between fans, and rings true to the motto “separate in colors, united in the cause!”.
The campaign runs until August 31st 2016 at: www.crowdfanding.net.