German chancellor Angela Merkel and entrepreneur Susanne Klatten (r.) tested sensors designed by ParkHere during a visit to TUM’s Entrepreneurship Center and UnternehmerTUM.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and entrepreneur Susanne Klatten (r.) tested sensors designed by ParkHere during a visit to TUM’s Entrepreneurship Center and UnternehmerTUM. Felix Harteneck and Jakob Sturm (l.) were there to explain the technology behind the sensors (Image: Patrick Ranz).

Alumni in sustainability
Start-up founder Jakob Sturm
“It Doesn’t Get Any More Sustainable than This”
25. Mar 2019  |  
Reading time Min.
The search for parking spaces is over. Jakob Sturm and two other TUM alumni have developed a sensor that indicates available parking space in real time. The remarkable thing about this smart device: it needs neither electricity nor batteries.
As an adolescent, Jakob Sturm would already scrutinize the insides of old tube television sets. When he was eighteen years old, he won the first prize in the regional competition of “Jugend forscht”, a German competition for young scientists. He had invented a zero-energy standby switch running on zero Watts. It was therefore only logical for him to take up studies in Electrical and Computer Engineering at TUM. “TUM is a prestigious and good university and I didn’t have to move out of my parents’ house, where I could live rent-free”, Jakob Sturm adds with a smile as he explains his decision for this particular university.

His projects at university gave Jakob Sturm the chance to develop his ideas for energy self-sufficiency even further. He contributed to TUM’s Ikarus-Project, for example, working on the construction of an electric car. Then, in 2015, Jakob met TUM alumni Felix Harteneck and Clemens Techmer at a “Makerthon”—an UnternehmerTUM event aiming to develop fit-for-use software and hardware right at the event itself. Felix Harteneck, who was studying Management and Technology (TUM-BWL) at the time, had founded his first startup enterprise right out of high school and had thus already established business connections with investors, top managers, and entrepreneurs. Clemens Techmer, who like Jakob was pursuing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, was a Manage & More and Climate Kic fellow as well as the recipient of the innovation award at TUM’s Chair of Communication Networks.

The parking industry’s most innovative solution

Three veritable high achievers had thus found each other and they went straight to work right there at the Makerthon. At the end of the event, the three presented their idea: an energy self-sufficient sensor with a lifetime of 25 years whose data would provide information about parking space occupancy. In terms of sustainability and efficiency, Jakob Sturm and his colleagues would thus outshine even established industrial corporations and automobile manufacturers. That is why they went and got a patent on their energy self-sufficient sensor right after the event.

In order to leverage their pole position and to win market shares in the highly competitive and trend-setting smart-parking market, the three alumni had to found their start-up as quickly as possible. While still in their last semesters of their degrees at TUM, they took advantage of the diverse courses and offerings of UnternehmerTUM, and that is where they obtained the support and the network they needed to found their start-up ParkHere that very year.

Trendsetting Cooperations

It has been just over three years now since the founding of their start-up company and the three young entrepreneurs can already look back on a number of substantial accomplishments. They have won prize after prize, and their sustainable parking solution was able to prevail over competitors from renowned industry titans in several cities in both Germany and Switzerland. In 2017, the parking sensor went into serial production. Since 2018, the three entrepreneurs have been occupying their own large offices with production and final assembly space in an industrial park in Munich’s Westend. “The demand for our product is always on the rise. There is a huge market all over Europe”, Jakob Sturm says proudly.

Jakob Sturm and his colleagues, whose company now comprises more than 45 young employees from all over the world, are already planning to take it even further. They are developing new products allowing them to capture the entire process from searching for parking spaces to accessing and paying for them. Serial production for these products is already under way, as are the corresponding patent applications.

Jakob Sturm with the TUM Alumni Felix Harteneck and Clemens Techmer - Founders of the Start-ups ParkHere.

Jakob Sturm with the TUM Alumni Felix Harteneck and Clemens Techmer - Founders of the Start-ups ParkHere (Picture:: Karen Köhler,

If you have ideas, you have to sit down and try things out. And then just do it.

Jakob Sturm

Companies like Porsche and BMW have already optimized their employee parking spaces using ParkHere services. Now it is time for ParkHere to extend their services toward charging stations for electric cars, for example the ones operated by Deutsche Bahn. The sales sector is also expected to grow, and Jakob Sturm is not only thinking about the German, Austrian and Swiss markets but hoping to expand as far as Finland and Hungary. “If you have ideas”, he says, “you have to sit down and try things out and then you just have to do it”. Jakob Sturm and his colleagues are perfect examples of why it pays off to think big.
TUM Alumni Jakob Sturm.

Jakob Sturm (Image: ParkHere).

Jakob Sturm

Bacelor in Electrical and Computer Engineering 2014, Master 2016


Jakob Sturm studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at TUM from 2011 to 2016. He discovered his affinity for the Spanish language while backpacking through South America. That is why he spent a semester abroad at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain in 2014.

He founded the start-up company ParkHere together with TUM alumni Felix Harteneck and Clemens Techmer (Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering 2016) in 2015 and has been in the position of CIO ever since. His responsibilities include the sensor’s and the other hardware’s information technology.

The TUM spinoff company has won several awards for its environmentally friendly digital technology. It won the BMWi’s IKT Innovativ Preis in its founding year 2015; it won the Pioneers Festival in 2016, the VDE-Award in the economics category in 2017 as well as the Intertraffic Innovation Award in 2018.

Jakob Sturm lives in Munich with his girlfriend. He rides his electric motor scooter to work, and uses the train to get to business meetings. He devotes his spare time to his passion: playing soccer.