Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. oec. habil. Katharina Hölzle, MBA

© Kay Herschelmann

Digital technologies are at the core of profound changes in society and economy. The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and its partner institute, the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management IAT at the University of Stuttgart, contribute to making this transformation a positive process. As a renowned professor of IT Entrepreneurship at the Hasso Plattner Institute at the University of Potsdam, vice-chair of the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI) and a former member of the Federal Government's High-Tech Forum (HTF), Katharina Hölzle combines scientific expertise and practical experience in central issues of strategic technology and innovation management. In her new role as director, she is therefore in an ideal position to actively shape and drive this change.

The best of both worlds: University teaching and practical research

Univ.-Prof. Katharina Hölzle holds a diploma in industrial engineering and started her career in business working for Infineon Technologies, Cap Gemini and an American startup company. In 2008, she completed her PhD at TU Berlin where she became a junior professor before receiving her habilitation in 2011. From 2011 to 2019, she held the Chair of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Potsdam, before joining the Hasso Plattner Institute, Faculty of Digital Engineering at the University of Potsdam in November 2019 where she headed the IT Entrepreneurship research group. It was her role as a member of the Federal Government's High-Tech Forum that led to her initial contact with Fraunhofer.

“The digital transformation of our working environment has a significant impact on industry and society. For this reason, we urgently need strategies, business models and solutions for digital transformation that have a scientific basis. With its research in this key area, Fraunhofer IAO empowers customers to deploy new technologies quickly and efficiently for long-term, sustainable success,” says Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.” I am very pleased that we could win Prof. Hölzle, an accomplished expert in the field of innovation research and entrepreneurship, as a member of the institute management at Fraunhofer IAO. With her technical and international expertise, she will make a significant contribution to the further development and expansion of Fraunhofer IAO.”

On top of research and transfer, the IAT also focuses on university education in engineering and technology management. Over the years, Univ.-Prof. Hölzle has successfully taught all aspects of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology management at bachelor, master and executive level across various universities in Germany and other countries. She has received multiple awards for her teaching and is looking forward to establishing innovative teaching formats at the University of Stuttgart.

“A new understanding of technology and work will be a key element in the future of human factors and technology management. We will have to find answers to a number of questions, such as: What role will technology play in the context of society and economy? What will work between humans and machines look like in the future? And what skills and expertise will be required? As the new director of the IAO and IAT I’m looking forward to working with students and researchers to find answers to these questions both in education and practice,” says Univ.-Prof. Hölzle, looking to the future.

Cooperations and networks

In connection with assuming a professorship at the University of Stuttgart and becoming a member of the steering committee of Fraunhofer IAO, Prof. Hölzle was awarded comprehensive startup funding by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the University of Stuttgart to drive the topic of “The future of product development — Hybrid New Product Development”. The topic will focus on the future of work and the context of the product development process in particular. The aim is to set up a laboratory focusing on the topic of “Hybrid working in product development” at the IAT, where leading international scientists from various disciplines (engineering, business and human sciences, design thinking and creativity research) will work together to research new technologies and ways of working as well as the effects of digitalization and the use of AI-based technologies in day-to-day research and development. Testing and implementation will be carried out jointly with and within the extensive IAT and IAO network.