Four Questions for Martin Setzkorn

Headshot of Martin Setzkorn

The DWIH New York had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Martin Setzkorn, Head of the Center of Digital Innovation and Head of Center of Entrepreneurship at the University of Rostock. The University of Rostock has been one of two new associated supporters of the DWIH New York since May 2024.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work at the University of Rostock.

Hi, I am Martin – Head of the Center of Entrepreneurship at the University of Rostock and Head of the Center of Digital Innovation. Since 2011, I have been developing and implementing projects and instruments to promote start-ups at the University of Rostock as well as joint projects to promote start-ups in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (MV). Besides being a lecturer for entrepreneurship, I am personally committed to supporting people who want to realize their dreams. During this time, I witnessed how ideas grew into successful companies and how innovative concepts created new jobs and economic stimulus for MV.

As the strategic coordinator for the development and operation of the Center of Digital Innovation Rostock, my team and I strive to advance the digital transformation in Rostock by connecting, supporting and showing potential to the various target groups when they have questions and in their digitalization efforts. Together we are shaping our Rostock of the future and are door openers to the newest and most modern laboratories and to the network of the smartest minds. Some of the main focuses include artificial intelligence, life science, smart cities and the expert community.

The University of Rostock recently joined the DWIH New York as a new associated supporter. Could you share with our readers what prompted your organization to join our network and how you foresee transatlantic exchange will flourish with you as part of the DWIH?

Our university is one of the oldest in the northern part of Germany and Europe, founded in 1419. Our region is predestined for tourism with its beautiful beaches and endless coastline. But we face challenges as any other region as well and we believe that only innovative ideas will foster economic growth, competitiveness and collaboration. Besides that, we figured out that not too many institutions in the North-East of Germany faced the challenge and took the opportunity to become an associated supporter. With our special history, as being part of East Germany (former GDR), and the various challenges we have overcome, we believe that our perspectives can be of benefit in understanding different systems. This includes not only the way business works, but also how countries and communities access new technologies and solutions that will help to close the digital divide and improve access to information and services for everybody. For the past 30 years, we have lived transformation and with that we gained a special kind of resilience which makes us even more eager to strive for opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.

How does the university plan to utilize its membership as an associated supporter to enhance its visibility and engagement in international research and innovation ecosystems?

The international exchange between scientists and researchers is an essential driver of innovations that help to overcome the global challenges of our society. This exchange is more meaningful and beneficial for countries and regions that have similar geographical characteristics and face challenges, as they share a common goal and thus benefit even more from each other. We also believe that collaboration between academic and research institutions in different countries helps to promote the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and expertise, leading to a deeper understanding of various subjects and disciplines. In addition, by working together on research projects, our academics and researchers combine their skills and resources to tackle complex problems and drive innovation and discovery in a wide range of fields, such as medicine, technology, and energy. Building academic and research collaborations between Germany and the United States will help us to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the two countries, and to foster closer ties in areas such as science, technology, and education.

As Head of the Center for Entrepreneurship could you tell our readers which start-up sectors you cover and how they can benefit from internationalization? In what ways does the university plan to foster entrepreneurship and support startups through its international connections?

I am a start-up enthusiast. I see the local startup scene from many different perspectives. For me, innovation and transformation are not only the drive and motivation, but rather the opportunity to pursue new approaches and solutions in order to rethink products, services and their commercialization in a new and sustainable way. I see the local start-ups of today as the nucleus for the MV of tomorrow! We hope to promote economic growth. Understanding different cultures will help us expand local businesses into new markets and reach new customers which will contribute to economic growth and job creation in Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania. Regarding the sectors, we foster the transformation from science into deep-tech and cover life-science, engineering, food-tech and artificial intelligence.