"The best is yet to come!"
Daniel Bloemers worked at Fraunhofer IMW from 2010 to 2015, and has now moved on to become a European Union official. In this interview, he talks about how his work at Fraunhofer IMW shaped his career path and what his plans for the future include.
Where do you work now?
I am a European Union official, currently serving in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) in Brussels, Belgium.
What is your current position title?
Policy Officer: Innovation Policy and Investment for Growth
When did you work at Fraunhofer IMW?
August 2010 – March 2015
What unit did you work in?
I joined Fraunhofer IMW (at the time, Fraunhofer MOEZ) as Executive Assistant to Professor Posselt. I was later entrusted with the management of the institute's strategy process and appointed as Head of Strategic Development. Eventually, I became Head of Business Development and Strategy Planning.
Where did you study and what degrees did you achieve?
In 2008, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, European Studies, and Spanish from Universität Bremen, Germany. During my Bachelor's studies, I spent an Erasmus semester at Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. In 2010, I obtained a Master of Arts in International Relations, International Economics, and International Law at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Bologna, Italy, and Washington, DC, USA. Recently (May 2017), I finalized my doctoral research in business economics (international innovation management) under the supervision of Professor Posselt at Universität Leipzig. My thesis is currently undergoing Evaluation.
What did you find particularly interesting about your work at Fraunhofer IMW? What did it teach you and how did it prepare and help you pursue and fulfill the position you are holding now?
I loved my work at Fraunhofer IMW/MOEZ, and sometimes I still miss it. My responsibilities concerned the management of the institute's internal and external interfaces, in very close collaboration with Professor Posselt. Every day, I dealt with a large number of different topics and challenges, both short-term needs and long-term strategies. Working in such fast-paced and dynamic environment, in close cooperation with many passionate and visionary colleagues, shaping a young institution and contributing to its success was very inspiring.
Internally, I supported the refinement and linking of competences and service propositions across organizational units – in response to specific client demands, and notably as part of the institute's strategy process. This challenging work taught me a lot about leadership and the management of diverse teams.
Externally, I was in charge of promoting the institute's services, forging new partnerships, and deepening existing ones. At a time of actively expanding beyond the institute's initial focus region of Central and Eastern Europe, I travelled a lot to different world regions. South Korea and Turkey as well as projects in collaboration with the World Bank turned out to be my focus areas, but I also represented the institute in Thailand, the U.S., and India, among others. This exciting and demanding work deepened my understanding of international business practices and what to pay particular attention to in forging professional partnerships across cultural borders.
In brief, both streams of my work at Fraunhofer IMW/MOEZ were highly instructive, and I am applying the competencies and skills I acquired and strengthened there every day in my work for the European Union; sometimes consciously, sometimes as part of intuition-driven routines.
What are you working on currently and what do you really enjoy about this job?
My current work is focused on the performance assessment of national and regional innovation systems. Most importantly, I guide the methodological development, production, and dissemination of the European Innovation Scoreboard and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard. These very well established tools assess relative strengths and weaknesses of national and regional innovation systems, helping policy-makers identify areas they need to address. In the same vein, I am a member of DG GROW's European Semester Steering Group, Eurostat's Community Innovation Survey Task Force, the European Commission's Research and Innovation Observatory (RIO) Steering Group, and the OECD-Eurostat working group for the revision of the Oslo Manual (Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data).
In brief, my current work is about evidence-based policy-making. Contributing from an analytical perspective to competitiveness, value creation, and thus better living conditions for 500 million Europeans is very satisfying. At the same time, I get to engage in very interesting dialogues with policy-makers and stakeholders from EU Member States and beyond.
In my free time, I am a visiting lecturer on competitiveness in the global knowledge economy and European affairs at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. Sharing my experience with other young people, explaining them why today's global challenges can only be addressed in international partnerships, and sparking their enthusiasm to become active members of society is very close to my heart.
Did you ever expect doing this while you were at Fraunhofer IMW?
Contributing to the project of European integration by working for the European Union had been my dream for many years, and my exposure to related issues at Fraunhofer IMW/MOEZ confirmed my respective resolution. Once I had succeeded in passing the challenging competition to become an EU official, the knowledge and experience I gained at Fraunhofer IMW/MOEZ on issues of innovation and value creation in an internationally competitive knowledge economy paved my way into my current position.
What was your most memorable moment as a team member of Fraunhofer IMW?
Inside the institute, my most memorable and satisfying moment at Fraunhofer IMW/MOEZ was the successful completion of the 2013 strategy audit by external experts, which I had managed. In terms of business development, I take some pride in successfully concluding a first consultancy service contract with a South Korean government agency, which we achieved after three visits to the country, and which led to a number of additional partnerships.
What is your lasting impression of Fraunhofer IMW?
Fraunhofer IMW is a great institute with wonderful people and huge potential. I am very happy to see it grow and prosper from afar, and I am sure that the best is yet to come!
What are your future goals you are working towards?
My passion lies in diplomacy and global partnerships, i.e. at the external interfaces of the European Union. This is where I would like to continue making contributions, trying to make a difference in harnessing globalization for society and to continue exploring the world.
How do you see the field you are working in change in the future?
My field of work is all about change. Innovation policy is about fostering new or significantly improved solutions to societal challenges. The world is undergoing profound transformations – technologically, politically, and socially – and it will continue to do so. We therefore need continuous change to ensure opportunities and security for Europe and the world community as a whole. There are exciting times ahead of us.