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From Lecture Hall to Green Innovator

Florian Dutzler's journey to sustainable innovation

Embarking on a journey from the classroom to eco-conscious entrepreneurship, Florian Dutzler, a master student at IMC Krems University of Applied Sciences, draws inspiration from his academic experience to revolutionise the packaging industry with his project, Sunny, offering a compostable alternative to Styrofoam. We caught up with him to delve into this innovative startup idea.

Vorstellung des Projektes bei Landeshauptfrau Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

It all started at the IMC Krems Pre-Incubator. Florian Dutzler and his team then pitched at the accent Makerspace in Tulln in the presence of Lower Austria's Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner. Photo credit: NLK Pfeffer.

During his master studies „Digital Business Innovation and Transformation“ Florian Dutzler discovered how a seemingly small idea, with the right support, could gain momentum. Collaborating with teammates Barbara Dutzler and Florian Dokal, he initiated "Project Sunny," aiming to provide a compostable substitute for Styrofoam. What began in the IMC Pre-Incubator in Krems recently transitioned to a pitch at the accent Makerspace in Tulln during a visit from Lower Austria's Governor, Mikl-Leitner.

What inspired you to pursue sustainable entrepreneurship during your studies, despite the actual founding of the company pending?

Originally, it was serendipitous. In 2022, my wife stumbled upon what appeared to be Styrofoam debris during a walk near a sunflower field in our neighborhood, which later turned out to be remnants of sunflowers. We pondered: "This resembles Styrofoam. Could we create bio-Styrofoam from this?" Shortly after, we took the idea to an ideation workshop at IMC, without grand expectations. There, we were encouraged to pursue the idea further in the Pre-Incubator programme by accent and IMC Krems. Since then, our “Project Sunny”, has been in motion.

What is the objective of "Project Sunny," and what is it all about?

We aspire to offer a sustainable alternative to current packaging and insulation materials. Everyone is familiar with the issue: when Styrofoam breaks, thousands of tiny beads scatter, taking over 500 years to degrade. We believe there's a better way. Therefore, we're developing a compostable material that can be disposed of in organic waste after use.

How do you manage to balance the demands of your part-time master studies with the challenges of founding a company?

The crucial difference lies in the concept of "purpose." It's motivating to feel like part of the solution rather than the problem. Breathing life into an idea and practically implementing it with a team is inspiring, as experienced firsthand in a startup environment.

What role do your studies at IMC Krems play in shaping your company and entrepreneurial skills?

The forum and support we received for idea development were crucial. The tools we acquired in our classes provided the ideal theoretical background to apply them practically. This combination of theory and practice has been immensely beneficial.

What obstacles have you faced as a student entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was undoubtedly time management. Balancing a demanding job and part-time studies consumes a lot of energy. Support and understanding from my personal circle were crucial components in managing everything. Sometimes, compromises had to be made to juggle everything. But focusing on the essentials was one of the most important lessons I've learned over the past two years.

How do you integrate sustainability not only into your startup but also into your personal and professional philosophy?

I live by the motto: "Make the world a bit better." I implement this both personally and professionally – whether it's selling second-hand goods, commuting with a climate ticket, upcycling furniture, or growing my own vegetables. I've also had the opportunity to advance sustainability in controlling professionally.

What advice would you give to other students dreaming of starting their own business during their studies?

Just do it! There will be moments where you question why you're putting yourself through this. But the learning experience you gain is invaluable. When you find the right thing, you'll notice how much your idea drives you forward.


Learn more about "Projekt Sunny"



More information about the IMC Creative Pre-Incubator and the degree programme

IMC Creative Pre-Incubator





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