Since 1992 SEPT is providing theoretical insight and practical experience in the management and promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises worldwide. These are just some of the key moments in the history of our research and training center.

1. Intake of SEPT, Picture: Robert Kappel
1. Intake of SEPT, Picture: Robert Kappel

History of the SEPT Competence Center

The history of the SEPT Competence Center is both unique and curious as it reflects well its entrepreneurial, interdisciplinary, and international nature since its start in 1992.

The beginning

The postgraduate program Small Enterprise Promotion and Training (SEPT) was born as an initiative of Prof. Dr. Robert Kappel at the University of Bremen. This was after identifying the need for courses focused on entrepreneurship as a key element for the economic and social development of countries in the German educational offer.

Thus, the SEPT program was created with an interdisciplinary approach with contributions from the faculties of Political Science, Education, and Economics at the University of Bremen. From its beginning, the program was supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

The first generation of international students started the SEPT program in October 1992, after having taken an intensive German language course in Germany sponsored by the DAAD. Between 15 and 18 young people from Nigeria made up the 1992-1994 intake. The second group of students completed the program in Bremen between 1994 and 1996.

Transfer to Uni Leipzig

Subsequently, in 1998, after a two-year break, the SEPT program was transferred from the University of Bremen to Leipzig University, where Prof. Dr. Kappel continued the leadership of this great educational project.

At this point, Leipzig University, seeking to further boost its internationalization process, took on the challenge of funding and implementing the SEPT graduate program within the Department of African Studies at its Faculty of History, Arts, and Regional Studies.

Convinced of the potential and positive impact of the SEPT program, the DAAD confirmed its support for the program at Leipzig University with funding and technical assistance, which continues to this day.

One of the members of the first class of SEPT students at Uni Leipzig was Prof. Dr. Utz Dornberger, who later on assumed the leadership of SEPT in 2004. Since then, SEPT has expanded tremendously and has evolved from a graduate program to a comprehensive research and training center.

Some SEPT milestones

  • 2006: The first cohort of our SEPT MBA at Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Vietnam
  • 2006: Start of the entrepreneurship initiative SMILE (Self-Management Initiative Leipzig) in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Helge Löbler, Chair of Marketing at Leipzig University, with strong support from the State of Saxony and the EU
  • 2008: Launch of our iN4iN network to support university-business linkages and boost knowledge transfer in 100+ universities around the world.
  • 2008: The SEPT MBA was nominated as one of the TOP 10 International Master Programs in Germany by the DAAD and the Stifterverband der Deutschen Wirtschaft.
  • 2012: Start of our Fit4Export initiative to support the internationalization of start-ups and SMEs
  • 2012: The first cohort of our SEPT MBA started at Vietnamese German University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • 2019: The International Start-up Campus (ISC) was established in cooperation with the Universities in Jena and Halle to support International Entrepreneurship.
  • 2020: Our largest DAAD-supported project, the African Center for Career Enhancement and Skills Support, was inaugurated.
  • 2020: The SEPT program was transferred to the Faculty of Economics and Management at Leipzig University.
  • 2022: The SEPT Competence Center was inaugurated at the Faculty of Economics and Management at Leipzig University.

Present and future

The SEPT Competence Center, now with 60 staff members and affiliated with the Faculty of Economics and Management Science, maintains its outstanding MBA oriented to SMEs, in addition to other products aligned with the essence of the center: research activities focused on international entrepreneurship and business innovation; iN4iN for specialized training for SMEs; FIT4Export for consulting to SMEs interested in foreign markets; and the SMILE initiative to support new startups.

In its first 30 years of existence, the SEPT Competence Center shows an outstanding track record and high-impact work at an international level. This gives us great joy and motivates us to continue our work to promote entrepreneurship and innovation comprehensively from the study, research, consulting, and other services we offer in Germany and around the world.

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