Female empowerment at REACH EUREGIO-CHAIR 2021

Female empowerment at REACH EUREGIO-CHAIR 2021

Dr. Kati Ernst (founder ooia) and Corinne Vigreux (co-founder TomTom) got awarded a “Reach Euregio-Chair” by the Universities of Münster and Twente during the REACH EUREGIO-CHAIR 2021.

Author: Isabelle Duteweerd 18 October 2021

Combining scientific know-how with an entrepreneurial spirit. That was the idea of the University of Münster and University of Twente, in cooperation with their startup center REACH and Novel-T, when they awarded the “Reach Euregio-Chair” for the first time on Thursday evening (October 14). This is an award to honor successful founders’ personal connections to the German-Dutch border region. Who embody entrepreneurship and innovative strength and act as role models for students and young entrepreneurs.

Symbolic professorial chair

Corinne Vigreux took part virtually with a video message. “We are pleased that you are the first to hold this symbolic professorial chair”, congratulated Rector Prof. Dr. Johannes Wessels them. “The Westfälische Wilhelms Universiteit wants to continue promoting startups arising out of research and science. For this reason, it is important that bright minds share their experience and knowledge with the students. ”

Our award-winners will have plenty of opportunities to do so. On the first day after the award ceremony, Kati Ernst held an interesting Q&A session with students at the Aasee Mensa. Female empowerment came to light and afterwards a ‘Let’s Talk’ session on Female Business and New Founding took place at the REACH incubator. The two winners will also organize workshops and seminars over a period of two semesters in the Euregio startup region.

The award ceremony

Jean-Claude Juncker joined the ceremony live from Brussels to give a digital keynote on entrepreneurship in the European Union. The former President of the European Commission emphasized the importance of a strong startup movement for the European economy. In his speech, the Minister of Economics, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy in the government of North Rhine-Westphalia, Prof. Andreas Pinkwart, underlined the enormous importance of startups growing out of universities: “The Reach Euregio-Chair, is an important contribution to bringing startup expertise into lecture halls to continue to promote exchanges between research and business and to motivate students to put innovative startup projects into practice.”

About the award-winners

Dr. Kati Ernst is the founder and managing director of ooia. Her company is based in Berlin and, with its innovative products – so-called Female Centric Products – it is moving into established areas of the consumer goods market. Kati Ernst studied business administration at the University of Münster. The German government honored Kati and her co-founder Kristine Zeller as a ‘creative pilot’ of the German economy only one year after the founding of their joint startup in 2019. Last year she was presented with the German Startup Award as ‘Newcomer of the Year’.

Corinne Vigreux has been active for over 30 years as a founder and manager in the technology sector. The co-founder of the Dutch company TomTom, a manufacturer of navigation systems and provider of geospatial data, is currently the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. Through her Sofronie Foundation, she founded CODAM, a non-profit programming school dedicated to nurturing the next generation of tech talent. In 2018 she was included in Forbes’ ‘World’s Top 50 Women In Tech’ list. Corinne Vigreux is committed to supporting women in the world of work and she actively advocates better social mobility through education.


Since 2019, the ‘REACH EUREGIO Startup Center’ has been supporting those interested in founding a company in the German-Dutch border region in the implementation of their projects. Through its structured programs, REACH – the university startup centre at the University of Münster – helps in transferring research ideas into practice. From now on the Reach Euregio-Chair, endowed by the two startup centers REACH and Novel-T, will be awarded annually.


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