A Bremen private university has a new investor. He is supposed to save the financially ailing university from ruin.
In 2001, the private college International University Bremen opened its doors to students from all over the world. In any case, it lived up to its name, because it is one of the most international universities in Germany, and 1,500 students from over 100 countries went and continue to pursue their education there. Provided they have a scholarship or the necessary money to be able to afford the tuition and accommodation fees, which can be up to 20,000 euros. After an initial injection of funds from the Free Hanseatic City, the university was to be financed privately, a plan that never really worked out, which is why more and more taxpayers’ money flowed into the financing. However, the financial problems became particularly serious as early as 2006, whereupon the Jacobs Foundation invested 200 million euros and acquired a two-thirds majority of the shares. The university also adopted its new and current name, Jacobs University Bremen, from the foundation associated with the Jacobs coffee dynasty. But this era seems to be coming to an end.
As early as summer 2020, the Jacobs Foundation announced that it would withdraw from funding JUB, and a few months later its shares went to the city of Bremen on a transitional basis, which has been looking for new investors ever since. Plans for cooperation with the Chinese company Neusoft failed, probably also due to concerns from the federal government. Success was then announced in September 2021: a buyer for the shares was found in the Russian-born multi-millionaire Serguei Beloussov, founder and managing director of the Schaffhausen Institute of Advanced Learning (SIT). The institute is now the majority shareholder with 66.68 percent. In contrast to previous financial crises, according to his own statements, he is not planning any staff cuts at the university, which he wants to modernize with an investment of 50 million euros. But who is the new investor?
Beloussov, who holds a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering & Physics and a PhD in Computer Science, is primarily involved in the computer and software industry. In 2002, while already a Singaporean citizen, he founded the tech company Acronis, which offers solutions for data backup and recovery. Beloussov has also served as CEO of software company Parallels, Inc. and co-founded venture capital firm Runa Capital. His interest in Bremen’s private university is probably primarily due to the fact that he was the founder of the Schaffhausen Institute mentioned above. The SIT is a non-profit institute in Switzerland, which Beloussov founded in 2019. Digitization and computer science are among the focal points, and there have been collaborations with Carnegie Mellon University, a private university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the National University of Singapore. The JUB, with the institute as the new main shareholder, will probably also become a cooperation partner in the near future.
The signs are good for the University of Bremen that financial worries have been overcome for the time being. Despite its withdrawal, the Jacobs Foundation will continue to pay the university the promised funding of 60 million euros up to and including 2027. The city of Bremen, in particular, will hope that in the future no investments in Jacobs University, which will soon appear under a new name, will burden its already scarce resources. : Jan Krischan Spohr