Clear the stage for the first digital NEULAND Innovation Day!

On June 30, 2021, the seventh NEULAND Innovation Day took place - for the first time in digital form. The Innovation Day is a meeting platform for everyone who is interested in the topics of technology transfer and start-ups at KIT.

This year, you can expect diverse digital content and interactive program sections on strategically important topics - streamed live from the Zeiss Innovation Hub @KIT. In addition to exciting presentations, the highlights in the stream included the annual Founder's Pitch incl. award ceremony, two high-level keynotes by Dr. Robert Bauer (Chairman of the Executive Board, SICK AG) and Dr. Thomas Schneider (Managing Director Development, TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG) as well as the announcement of the winners from this year's innovation competition.

The additionally unlocked 3D environment with virtual exhibition stands also offered innovative ideas, technologies and start-up projects from students, scientific employees and professors.

A summary of this year's Innovation Day can be found in our detailed follow-up report as well as our highlight video.


If you have any questions about the NEULAND Innovation Day, you can reach us by phone or e-mail.

Phone +49 721 608-22612


Almost 1,200 virtual visitors attended this year's Innovation Day, which focused on discovering the latest technologies and spin-offs at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and on establishing contacts.

For years, the Innovation Day NEULAND has been an integral part of the KIT calendar and of many people interested in technology and start-ups. On June 30, the Innovation Day took place for the first time in a purely virtual format for spectators. In digital lectures and exciting livestreams, this year's Innovation Day offered a diverse and varied program, which was well received by a record number of about 1,200 digital guests. The eventful day was rounded off by a virtual 3D environment where participants could extensively inform and exchange information in the networking lounge or at booths of sponsors, start-up projects, and technologies of KIT. More information can be found here.

"At Innovation Day, we at KIT can get in touch with our community from business and science, but also involve our students," said Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth, Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs at KIT, at the official opening together with Dr. Thomas Schneider, Managing Director Development at TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG.

CEO of SICK AG gives keynote speech on digital transformation

The first keynote of the day was given by Dr. Robert Bauer, Chairman of the Executive Board of SICK AG, on the topic of "Sensor intelligence: Driver of the digital transformation". In his presentation, Dr. Bauer addressed the question of how SICK AG is developing in the course of the digital transformation. In doing so, he showed how and for what purpose SICK AG is using sensor intelligence to try to build bridges between innovations in specific fields of expertise and how digital transformation has also been anchored in the company's corporate culture.

Award for the most outstanding innovations and industry cooperations

Following the keynote, there was reason to celebrate at the award ceremony of the NEULAND innovation competition: The winners of the two categories "Idea Award" and "Transfer Award" were announced. First place in the Idea Award was won by Prof. Dr. Ute Schepers, Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG), Prof. Dr. Pavel Levkin, Institute of Organic Chemistry (IOC) and Institute of Biological and Chemical Systems - Functional Molecular Systems (IBCS-FMS) and Prof. Dr. Stefan Bräse from the Institute of Organic Chemistry (IOC) for their project "LONGCOVIDMA: High-throughput assay for new efficient drugs against long-covid and covid-19 brain infections". First place in the Transfer Prize went to a spin-off of KIT called Aquarray GmbH for the development of their droplet microarray technology.

More information on the nominees is available here.

Founder teams vie for the jury's favor

After the lunch break, the founder pitch of KIT-Gründerschmiede took place, in which two international teams from Chile were allowed to prove themselves for the first time this year. The teams of CatavisfemfeelGoQuantum (Chile), MARAsafeAD and Suncast (Chile) had only three minutes to score with their business idea. An expert jury, consisting of Dr. Max Riedel (Zeiss Innovation Hub @KIT), Moritz Luck (SilverScale Capital), Dr. Gernot Berger (High-Tech Gründerfonds) and Alin Semenescu (Sparkasse Karlsruhe), then asked questions and evaluated the pitches. In the end, the Catavis team had two reasons to be happy: The spin-off of KIT was ranked first in the jury's evaluation and also won the audience award.

Further information on the participating teams and the start-up pitch can be found here.

Managing Director for Development at TRUMPF gives keynote speech on co-creation

In the late afternoon, the second keynote of the day continued: Dr. Thomas Schneider, Managing Director of Development at TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG, dedicated his keynote to the topic of "Local thinking - global performance: How tomorrow's products emerge from cooperations". Here, he gave an introduction to innovative technologies that are products of local cooperations and used these examples to explain the added value that co-creation creates for the emergence of global innovations. "That's what we want to cover today: Exciting challenges and transformations that need long breath. Long breath and success, trust of the partners, in each other, in their competencies, to achieve excellence with it." Moderated by Katrin-Cécile Ziegler, the lecture led into a concluding discussion with Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth from KIT.


We would like to thank the event sponsors TRUMPF, ABB AG, Robert Bosch GmbH, Deloitte GmbH, Mercedes-Benz AG, SAP Next-Gen, Siemens AG, Carl Zeiss AG, startup bw and the Ministry of Economics, Labor and Housing Baden-Württemberg for their support. Furthermore, a big thank you goes to the sponsors of the founder pitch SilverScale Capital, Carl Zeiss AG, Sparkasse Karlsruhe and High-Tech Gründerfonds as well as the sponsors of the innovation competition NEULAND Deloitte GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, ABB AG and Baden-Württembergische Bank.

We are already looking forward to Innovation Day 2022! If you have any praise or suggestions for Innovation Day, please feel free to email us at

The Innovation Day NEULAND 2021 was supported by:

Banner with logos of sponsors

2021, visitors could get to know selected research projects of KIT students and employees as well as founding teams in the virtual 3D exhibition.

A Path Towards Resilient Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Insights From Current Research

Ralph Henn (EnTechnon, KIT).

Start-up ecosystems and their framework conditions have a significant impact on the sustainable success of start-ups. Start-ups are crucial for innovation-driven structural change, the creation of sustainable jobs, and lead to increased resilience of the regional economy in the long run. The presentation will focus on current research as well as a diagnostic tool developed at KIT to assess start-up ecosystems.

Gravity Challenge – How Deloitte joins the Space Economy

Jil Hammerschmidt (Senior Manager & CoLead Innovation, Deloitte).

Jil Hammerschmidt will present the Gravity Challenge initiated by Deloitte. This is a global technology innovation program for companies, entrepreneurs and universities to design and implement solutions to real-world industrial, social and environmental problems using space data and capabilities. Find out how you can participate in Gravity in the future!

Industrial digitalization – the way to a sustainable economy

Dr. Kai König (Senior Scientist Optimization & Control, ABB AG Research Center Germany) & Dr. Marco Ulrich (Head of Department Software Technologies).

Advances in IT and communications technology are the main drivers of digital transformation in areas such as industrial automation and energy. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics will have a strong impact on the new digital industries and will be important cornerstones to achieve a fully sustainable economy.

What connects KIT, the capital market, and mechanical engineering?

Univ. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sven Matthiesen (IPEK, KIT) & Dr. Thomas Schneider (Managing Director Development, TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG)

In addition to the challenges in data, IT and mechanical engineering, it is particularly important to integrate the opportunities of a European financial economy into the business model of the future with a view to the circular economy and sustainable production. With the construction of the Learning and Application Center Mechatronics (LAZ) together with TRUMPF Machine Tools, an international lighthouse is being created at KIT.

Thinking locally - delivering globally: How tomorrow's products emerge from collaborations

Dr. Thomas Schneider (Managing Director Development, TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG)

Dr. Thomas Schneider is head of development at TRUMPF in the Machine Tool Business Division. Born in Ludwigshafen, he studied mechanical engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and earned his doctorate in electrical engineering materials. In his presentation, he will provide an insight into his work in the Lifecycle Engineering/Product Quality and Production Platforms division at TRUMPF.

Empowering German Startups to Scale Globally

Lena Esseln (Startup Scout & Advisor, German Accelerator).

"When does international expansion make sense for my startup?" or "What should I consider before internationalization?". Company Scout Lena Esseln answers these questions and introduces the German Accelerator's new "Kickstart International" offering. The virtual Kickstart International program equips German startups early on with the necessary skills and tools to build an internationally successful and scalable company.

Learning from crises: Our path to sustainability

Prof. Dr. Johannes Orphal (Head of Department Natural and Built Environment, KIT Climate and Environment Center).

In his lecture, Prof Orphal will give an insight into the work of the KIT Climate and Environment Center. Since its foundation, the Center has been developing basic and applied knowledge on climate and environmental change and using this knowledge to develop strategies and technologies for safeguarding the natural basis of life.


Dr. Michael Marthaler (CEO and Co-Founder HQS Quantum Simulations) & Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wernsdorfer (Institute of Physics, KIT).

Prof. Wernsdorfer and Dr. Marthaler will give an insight into the computer world of tomorrow in their double lecture on the topics "Quantum computers in the present - the current state of research" and "Simulations for the future - quantum computers in materials research". They will shed light on the supercomputer from a theoretical and practical perspective.


Innovation Campus Mobility of the Future

Prof. Gisela Lanza (WBK, KIT), Dr.-Ing. Sandra Kauffmann-Weiß (Managing Director InnovationsCampus Mobility of the Future, KIT) & Prof. Nejila Parspour (IEW, Uni Stuttgart).

The Innovation Campus Mobility of the Future is a platform to promote the exchange between different scientific fields but also between science and industry. The partners of the two research locations of the University of Stuttgart and KIT combine their competences in research and innovation to quickly and flexibly develop new technologies, to test new approaches and to create the basis for innovations.

Offers of the KIT Gründerschmiede and Deep Tech Hub

Thomas Neumann (Head of Foundations and Investments Innovation and Relations Management, KIT).

KIT-Gründerschmiede (KGS) is the first point of contact for all people interested in founding a company at KIT. With its Global Horizon Program (GHPro), KGS expands its offer and, together with its partners from the Deep Tech Hub, supports the internationalization of startups from Baden-Württemberg and the cooperation with international partners and companies. In his lecture, Thomas Neumann will present the multifaceted offer of the Gründerschmiede.

With innovation for more resilience - requirements, ambivalences and perspectives

Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald (Head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, KIT).

The Corona epidemic has made modern, globally interconnected and highly mobile society aware of its vulnerability. Increasing its resilience, the ability to deal with crises, has become the order of the day. Technical and economic, but also social innovations are needed, e.g. in the use of digital technologies.

Pandemic Learnings

Prof. Dr. Marianne Reeb (Head of Society & Mobility PIONEERING, Mercedes-Benz AG).

Post-Corona scenarios - What will the business environment look like for Daimler after the Covid19 pandemic in 2025? This is the question a small team of futurologists asked themselves in April 2020 and answered using the scenario method. How and where will we work, how will mobility and the role of the car change, what impact can we expect on the social sustainability discourse?

Artificial intelligence

Dr. Michael May (Head of Company Core Technology Data Analytics & AI, Siemens Technology) & Dr. Johannes Barth (Innovation Manager and Intellectual Property, Siemens Digital Industries Process Automation).

Dr. May and Dr. Barth will provide insight into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is increasingly finding its way into process automation, in their double talk on "Scalable AI in Industrial Applications" and "Combining Multisensors and AI for the Smart Factory". They highlight industrial applications and present the trend based on a concrete IIoT use case.

ZEISS ZX1 - Innovation in a mature market

Ulrich Wagemann (Director Digital Imaging Devices, Carls Zeiss AG).

The ZEISS ZX1 is the first full-frame digital camera from ZEISS. The ZX1 combines the optical quality of a full-frame camera with the intuitive user interface familiar from smartphones, offers the possibility of professional digital image editing on the camera, as well as an upload of images directly to cloud services. The presentation provides insight into the genesis of the concept, the design process and the agile integration of networks into the product development process.

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