• Volker Hofmann, Humboldt-Innovation, Brain City Berlin

    Volker Hofmann, Humboldt-Innovation

Bringing research to application is Volker Hofmann’s goal. The Brain City Ambassador is the Managing Director of Humboldt-Innovation GmbH. The company is a 100 percent subsidiary of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and at the same time its knowledge and technology transfer company. In 2018, the company was named "Best Innovation Promoter" in Germany.

“I am fascinated by the inexhaustible innovative potential of Berlin’s science ecosystem. Promoting forward-looking topics and strengthening the wealth of ideas and innovations in industry, business and society is a key driver for me.” Volker Hofmann deals with future topics on a daily basis. As Managing Director of Humboldt-Innovation, the transfer company of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), his focus is on scouting innovations and talents in the academic environment of the excellence university and on making the knowledge gained in research usable for business and society. “In our daily practice, this means that we support researchers in putting their work into practice. This can take the form of research projects, scientific training formats or by founding an own start-up,” says the Brain City ambassador.

In order to make excellent knowledge usable for business and to advance the solution of current societal problems, Humboldt-Innovation has built up a broad portfolio of services and tools that is constantly being expanded. “We are a think tank for the public sector and therefore also secure the economic development of the State. Creating new and sustainable jobs in the capital with the right tools and an outstanding team and promoting the competitiveness of Berlin companies is a unique opportunity for me to help shape things.”

Volker Hofmann was born and grew up in Berlin. After studying business administration and spending time abroad in China and Malaysia, where he worked for an international management consultancy, he returned to his hometown – and to the academic context. He is still impressed by how much Berlin has changed and reinvented itself over the years. “Berlin did not even need a generation to go from a divided city to a start-up and innovation metropolis. The dynamism that comes with constant change makes the city particularly attractive for national and international talent.” He sees the constant influx of new things as an important driver and at the same time a guarantor of the positive development of the city.

Berlin offers the academic environment a huge potential for synergies and networking. It is precisely this interdisciplinarity that creates the basic conditions for innovations.

Volker Hofmann came to his current job at Humboldt-Innovation through networks in the Berlin start-up scene. Initially, he headed the startup service at the HU Berlin. In 2014 he took over the management of Humboldt Innovation and is still enthusiastic. “There are probably few places in the city that are as appealing. I really enjoy the constant input of new things, working with intrinsically motivated people and the opportunity to see the impact of my own work directly.”

A large model project that Volker Hofmann and his team helped to get off the ground started in 2021: The Artificial Intelligence Entrepreneurship Centre (K.I.E.Z.) supports science-based start-ups in the field of Artificial Intelligence. It is supported by Science & Startups, the association of the startup centres of the Berlin universities - Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. “The main target group of K.I.E.Z. are young talents from the scientific context, who are supported in the growth of their AI start-up with an accelerator program and are directly networked with players from business and industry.” In addition, Humboldt-Innovation is constantly working with colleagues from other start-up centres to advance and develop the association of Berlin universities in the field of start-ups. One example is the jointly launched “Berlin Startup Scholarship”.

For scientists who are still at the beginning of their careers, Volker Hofmann recommends above all to “have the courage to put their research into practice and to establish networks early on. There are great support services available for this from research institutions and the State.” The Brain City Ambassador is also committed to supporting founders in the areas of the future on a daily basis. (vdo)


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