“Fraunhofer IMW contributes to the national as well as transnational innovation ecosystem with the goal to drive innovation – the basis of tomorrow’s wealth.”

Sören Wortmann worked at Fraunhofer IMW in 2016 and 2017, where he contributed to the Innovation Financing Unit's crowdFANding project. He now holds a position with Deutsche Bahn at their Berlin and Frankfurt locations in the corporate digitization field. 

Sören Wortmann

Where do you work now?

I am currently employed at Deutsche Bahn AG (DB) at their locations in Berlin and Frankfurt.

What is your current position title?

My position title is “Business Innovation Analyst” as part of a one-year program (traineeship) that aims at developing specialists in the field of new digital businesses. In this context, I was given the chance to work in three different corporate digitization initiatives.

When did you work at Fraunhofer IMW?

My job as a research assistant started in March 2016 and ended in February 2017.

What unit did you work for?

Innovation Financing. 

Where did you study and what degrees did you earn?

I hold an undergraduate degree (BA) in Economics and Social Sciences from the University of Erfurt. My graduate degree (MSc) is from Leipzig University, where I studied Management Science with a focus on Innovation Management. During the master’s program, I had the opportunity to study abroad at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) for six months.  

What did you find particularly interesting about your work at Fraunhofer IMW? What did it teach you and how did it prepare you to pursue and maintain your current position?

During my time at Fraunhofer IMW, the Innovation Financing Unit dealt with alternative financial instruments – e.g. crowdfunding and venture capital – to boost innovations. It was educating to collaboratively identify difficulties that both innovators and capital providers face, and how they can be overcome by providing a common operational framework that suits both parties.   

In my daily business today, I closely work with the group’s venture funds. Therefore, my deep theoretical understanding of financing options on the one hand and its practical execution on the other hand is a well-suited basis for effective task fulfillment. Besides that, I gained a higher level of creativity, social intelligence, and flexibility.

Fraunhofer IMW contributes to the national as well as transnational innovation ecosystem with the goal to drive innovation – the basis of tomorrow’s wealth.

What are you currently working on and what do you really enjoy about your job?

For me personally, passenger transport is the prerequisite for social exchange and advancement. However – in light of climate change, urbanization and rising traffic congestion – it is vital to implement smart mobility solutions.

In my position as a Business Innovation Analyst, my job is to drive digitization at Europe’s biggest mobility and logistics company: DB AG. Therefore, my focus is on identifying, creating and eventually establishing digital (asset light) business models in cooperation with responsible business areas. This is not only valid for the group’s current core business (railway transportation), but also for new mobility products (e.g. drones and hyperloop) as well as services (for example, ride-hailing). 

I hope I can contribute to the group’s intended paradigm shift toward providing sustainable and customized mobility solutions.

Did you ever expect to end up in your current position while you were at Fraunhofer IMW?

I’ve always been interested in mobility. When I first started my job at Fraunhofer, I initially thought I would like to work for one of the German car manufacturers sometime after my studies. But that dream changed fundamentally when I lived in South Africa; I realized that motorized private transport should be replaced by public transport systems, which are accessible for everyone. Thus, I am more than happy that I ended up at DB.

What was your most memorable moment as a team member at Fraunhofer IMW?

There were many memorable moments. Being a member of such an ambitious, experienced, and collegial team was always enriching.

Nevertheless, I best remember the day when we won the innovation award for crowdFANding, probably the biggest crowdfunding project in the history of German fan culture so far. 

What is your lasting impression of Fraunhofer IMW?

I am convinced that Fraunhofer IMW is an entrepreneurial hotspot where researchers meet with stakeholders to provide tailored solutions in various fields of science. Through its close connection to the private sector, politics, and other research institutes, a holistic as well as detailed scope is ensured.

Moreover, I appreciated the warm atmosphere throughout the IMW.

What are your future goals?

My goal is to be part of the implementation of sustainable and connected mobility solutions for everyone.

How do you see your field of expertise changing in the future?

Our society finds itself moving toward a critical tipping point: either it can break with the status quo and move forward to a new way of transportation (green, efficient, connected), or it will face avoidable, but irreversible consequences. I am convinced that a lasting success depends on the cooperation between existing and new players.