Alumni at Fraunhofer

On starting a business at Fraunhofer

Interview with Andre Schult

From the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Dresden, mechanical engineer Andre Schult founded a business that provides a digital, self-learning assistance system for production environments. The idea for the product was born in an existential crisis, and the decision to start the business evolved while he worked as a group manager at Fraunhofer IVV in Dresden. In this interview, he explains why he believes that Europe’s largest applied research organization offers the perfect conditions for entrepreneurs and where he is still seeing room for improvement.


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The Holodeck and the future of communication from Karlsruhe

An interview with Miro Taphanel.

Leading mankind out of the video call hell is the objective of the Fraunhofer IOSB-Alumnus Miro Taphanel. In Gixel's communications solution people meet and see each other just if they were in the same room. We had the pleassure to talk to this co-founder of Gixel about this new approach to communication. Gixel is one of a few enterprises, that are financed through SPRIND,  the German federal government’s Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation, comparable to the US-DARPA-Programm.  


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“Finding a balance”

An interview with Prof. Lydia Kaiser

She holds a professorship in Digital Engineering 4.0 at TU Berlin and the Einstein Cen-ter Digital Future, she is a member of the German Federal Ministry of Defence’s digital council and, as one of the most significant experts in systems engineering, she is highly sought after as a conference speaker — all in all, Prof. Lydia Kaiser has quite a packed working schedule. Yet she still somehow manages to be there for her three children. While juggling her many roles, she is also fighting to make sure that women no longer have to struggle “to find a balance.” The scientist and alumna of Fraunhofer IEM re-ceived recognition for her efforts in 2022, when she won the FTAfelicitas award in the “Vorbild sein. #InspireAsRolemodel” category. This made her the second Fraunhofer alumna to win the award, after Mai Thi Nguyen Kim in 2021 — a real cause for cele-bration for us at Fraunhofer. 


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“Boomerang, innovator and child of the mountains” — interview with Marc Tobias

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa

Marc Tobias, expert in innovation and business models, has spent much of his life outside in the mountains. His project “Kinder der Berge” (Children of the Mountains) aims to provide children who have undergone long-term intensive medical treatments with amazing experiences in nature. Between 2008 and 2009, he was the head of the Corporate and International Markets department at the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW. He went on to become a management consultant for a University of St. Gallen spin-off and a senior expert for EU projects. Business models and strategies for transferring technology to industry still remain the focus of his career today. Since 2018, he has worked to develop such strategies in his role as a techtransfer strategies advisor at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft headquarters.


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The Femal Founding-Dancefloor

Interview with Fraunhofer-Venture-Alumna Claire Siegert

Claire Siegert is a digital nomad with an ambitious vision — she wants to welcome more women in the European startup ecosystem. The project is based on a social problem: among other things, there are significantly fewer female founders than male founders, it is more difficult for female founders to obtain venture capital and, last but not least, there is a lack of female role models in leadership positions.

To welcome more female founders into the startup ecosystem, the Fraunhofer Venture alumna co-founded Businettes, a company that aims to tackle these fundamental problems and help women found their own businesses. The Businettes online incubator program guides female founders through the business ideation process towards their own business case and product. The company also shares the stories of inspiring role models and delivers workshops designed to empower women in their roles as business leaders.

Claire Siegert studied international management and marketing at the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR Berlin), and ESCE International Business School in Paris. After various roles in the private sector, she then joined Fraunhofer IPA and Fraunhofer Venture to dive deeper into the startup scene.

In this interview, she explains how she found her way into the world of startups and shares her tips for fellow company founders.


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“A Fraunhofer family” — interview with Elisabeth Ewen for Fraunhofer-Alumni e. V.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa

On August 1, 2022, Elisabeth Ewen began her new role as Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Corporate Culture and Legal Affairs. Beeing a member of the advisory board since since the creation in 2016, Ms. Ewen has also played a major role in the Fraunhofer-Alumni e. V. association. As the Director of Human Resources at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, she is responsible for all HR functions as well as the department headed by Michael Vogel, which includes the Fraunhofer-Alumni e. V. team. For her, the association is an important link in the Fraunhofer family — among other things, it enables networking that extends beyond the work at Fraunhofer. The new executive vice president believes that face-to-face contact is essential for developing new ideas, even in times marked by extensive digitalization. In this conversation, Ms. Ewen illustrates how she — a technophile lawyer — entered the world of research, the colleagues that she has stayed in contact with, the added value that she sees in Fraunhofer-Alumni e. V. and which key topics she wants to focus on in the future.


“Explore and conquer” — an interview with Fraunhofer IAIS alumnus Salah Zayakh

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa

Salah Zayakh is the founder and CEO of a start-up in payment industry. His motto is: "Never be satisfied with the status quo!" And so his path led him from his studies through various career steps in software development, corporate strategy and finally into a position in management. He also gained valuable experience at the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS, where he was able to combine entrepreneurship and technology. This combination is still a common thread running through his projects today. On new unknown paths, however, he achieves sustainable success primarily through collaborative trial and error and learning, which is why he actively engaging as a mentor.



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Interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa
© Fraunhofer ILT

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa worked in Aachen for a number of years. He was deputy Chair for Laser Technology LLT at RWTH Aachen University and head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT. In 2016, he joined Siemens. There, he was most recently responsible for the Siemens subsidiary WEISS Spindeltechnologie in his capacity as managing director and was in charge of the research campus Werner-von-Siemens Centre for Industry and Science in Berlin.

Now the ILT alumnus is returning to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft — as institute director of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Additive Manufacturing Technologies IAPT. However, for Prof. Ingomar Kelbassa, “return” is the wrong word to use — he always felt a connection to Fraunhofer, and research and development were key areas of focus for the mechanical engineer during his six years in the private sector. Now he wants to further industrialize additive manufacturing (AM) at the IAPT in new ways. Despite the move from Dortmund to Hamburg, he will remain a die-hard fan, club member and shareholder of the football club Borussia Dortmund.

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Looking back at the 5th Fraunhofer Alumni Summit “The Future of Logistics”

Ruth Houberts receives the Fraunhofer Founder Award 2016
© Fraunhofer Venture | Marc Müller/dedimag
Ruth Houberts receives the Fraunhofer Founder Award 2016

Greater resilience, more sustainability and digitalization — the focus of the 2021 Fraunhofer Alumni Summit, which was held in hybrid format for the first time, was the future of logistics.
Ordered today, delivered tomorrow. This level of convenience has long been taken for granted in today’s consumer society. However, many essential factors are required in order to maintain this standard, one of the most important of which is stable supply chains. In today’s collaborative and highly networked world, disruptions to supply chains have far-reaching consequences. Logistics, therefore, is the backbone and “enabler” of society, and the supply bottlenecks in recent months are just the latest in a series of events that have increasingly brought it to the attention of the general public. At the same time, this industry has been gaining in societal and economic importance.

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"Everything is fractal" - an interview with Dr. Ruth Houbertz

Ruth Houberts receives the Fraunhofer Founder Award 2016
© Fraunhofer Venture | Marc Müller/dedimag
Ruth Houberts receives the Fraunhofer Founder Award 2016

As a scientist and entrepreneur, Dr. Ruth Houbertz is the recipient of several awards, such as the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize and the Fraunhofer Founder's Prize. She initially worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC and used it as a base to found Multiphoton Optics GmbH. She wanted to revolutionize data transmission with this company's technology. And the physicist is still convinced today that many current challenges could be solved with optical data transmission. Even though she decided to sell the company at the beginning of 2021.  In this interview,  the Würzburg resident talks about the new "Society6.0" project and the reasons for the sale, her role in science and business and her role as founder. Above all - joy and enthusiasm should not be given short shrift.


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Beyond mp3 - Karlheinz Brandenburg on his new project

Finding an inductee into the “Internet Hall of Fame” among the ranks of Fraunhofer alumni is no surprise: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. rer. nat. h.c. mult. Karlheinz Brandenburg is one of the inventors of the MP3mp3 file format, probably the most important development for the music industry since the invention of vinyl records. Just a few months ago, he resigned as director of Fraunhofer IDMT to enjoy a “not-so-retired” retirement, as he puts it himself. Not content with just being a senior professor at Ilmenau University of Technology, the founder and CEO of Brandenburg Labs has also been enthusiastically working on “the next big thing”: PARty, quasi the acoustic equivalent of virtual reality. In addition to creating a perfect auditory illusion for the listener, the device serves as an acoustic magnifying glass or filter — essentially, it will allow the user to block out or listen closely to specific sounds. The possible applications are plentiful, but the project is still a long way off from being market ready. While the researchers are facing many challenges, as an investor and researcher, Brandenburg has not been scared off. As with the development of the MP3, this new project is the work of a relatively small, tightly knit team.


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  • Meet former colleagues and develop your network at the annual alumni meeting, the "Alumni Summit", on November 10, 2017 in Munich.
  • Read exclusively assessments of future-relevant scientific topics by Fraunhofer experts


  • Stay connected to your home institute .
  • Get to know Fraunhofer alumni from the fields of business, science and politics.
  • Make new contacts at association events and on the Alumni Portal

Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V.

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