INSIDER Newsletter, March 2023

"A major boost for our transfer culture"

What is the goal of our research? For many scientists, the answer to this question is that they want to put their ideas into practice quickly so that society can benefit from them. This requires not only scientific competence but also entrepreneurial skills. However, because in most cases these first have to be learned, the Technology Transfer department is setting up the HZDR Innovators School, which will start with the first courses in March 2023. Dr Björn Wolf, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at HZDR, explains in an interview what the new qualification initiative has to offer and for whom it is suitable.

Foto: Dr. Björn Wolf - Vortrag HTVD20 ©Copyright: HZDR Innovation GmbH

Dr Björn Wolf, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at HZDR. Photo: HTSB

Mr Wolf, what is the HZDR Innovators School about?

With the school, we are creating an offer that raises awareness and qualifies a broad range of employees for transfer and innovation processes. In concrete terms, this means that we provide various workshops, further education and training courses that focus on both the basics and more specific aspects such as the user perspective. The special feature is that these courses build on each other and are also closely linked to the career development of the employees. The funding is provided through a call for proposals from the Helmholtz Transfer Academies, in which we were successful with four out of four applications at the end of 2022. By 2025, we want to build up something that will have a model character within the Helmholtz Association and beyond.

For whom is the new offer beneficial?

It is aimed at employees in the scientific and technical areas of the HZDR. Basic knowledge about innovation processes is relevant for everyone, regardless of whether I know what a non-disclosure agreement is or what my research is worth when a company makes an enquiry. We work closely with the HR department on this and want to link personal career coaching, as is already offered to postdocs, with a qualification in entrepreneurial thinking. Not all researchers have the entrepreneurial gene in them, that's quite clear. But our qualification basically allows everyone to assess and also use the transfer potential in their own field of work.

You said that the modules build on each other. What happens after the basic qualification?

Everyone can take the modules as far as their own interest allows. The postdoc pursuing an academic career can specifically take away knowledge on licensed patents and corporate collaborations and thus becomes a multiplier for transfer topics. The lab assistant from radiopharmacy goes up to the second module and then expands her network through our company visits. The PhD student in nanomaterials goes through all four modules and then starts a spin-off. Not all participants will end up being founders, but they will most likely be partners for industry.

Will existing qualification offers be integrated into the School?

Yes, we will combine existing programmes with new formats that we have developed ourselves. This applies, for example, to the Life Tech Lab of dresden|exists, an incubator in the field of life sciences. Or also for the Future Career Program: Innovation of the Postdoc Center HZDR-TUD, which is about discovering innovative thinking as part of personal development for oneself. We would also like to systematically bundle cooperations with established partners such as EIT RawMaterials or HZDR Innovation GmbH under the umbrella of the HZDR Innovators School and make it accessible to all.

What do we want to achieve in the long term with the Innovators School?

Finally, our goal is to significantly increase the quality and number of transfer projects and spin-off projects. This enables us not only to become better known as a research centre, but also to make our contribution to society more visible. Time after time, I experience this "aha" effect among scientists when they work out the concrete benefits of their research idea in the HZDR Innovation Contest. We need this gain in knowledge much earlier and much more often. Only in this way can we succeed in establishing a culture of transfer and innovation at the HZDR in the long You can find an overview of all the offers on the HZDR Innovators School webpage.

Do you have topics or offers that you would like to see specifically? The HZDR Innovators School team is happy to receive your suggestions and comments!

Dr Björn Wolf
Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at HZDR
Mail: | Phone: +49 351 260 2615