The Volksbank Weinheim Stiftung and ZEW Mannheim have given the “Future of the Working World” research award 2021 to Dr. Jan Kinne. In his work, Kinne demonstrates that with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), company website contents can be evaluated online with high-frequency and in a fully automated manner. Currently, such searches are mainly done manually by specialised companies, i.e. by humans. He applies this method to analyse, for example, the innovation activity of companies and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses.

Picture of the award ceremony.
In 2021, the Volksbank Weinheim Stiftung and ZEW Mannheim presented the “Future of the Working World” research award for the ninth time. (v.l.n.r. ZEW Managing Director Professor Thomas Kohl, award winner Dr. Jan Kinne and Carsten Müller, pokesman of the board of Volksbank Kurpfalz)

Kinne transferred his scientific findings into practice and founded the start-up istari.ai together with his business partner and co-author Dr. David Lenz. ZEW economist Kinne sums up their experience so far: “It is really exciting to further develop our research approach by putting it into practice as a start-up company and bringing it to the market as an innovative product. The response has been very positive so far, and we are optimistic that our start-up will take off further in the coming years.”

Jury member and ZEW Managing Director Professor Thomas Kohl commented on Kinne’s award: “It is particularly noteworthy that Jan Kinne was successful with his spin-off based on his work. This once again demonstrates the innovative and practice-oriented nature of the research conducted at ZEW.”

Carsten Müller, spokesman of the board of Volksbank Kurpfalz and also a member of the jury, emphasises: “The research award and the cooperation with ZEW enable us to transfer scientific work and research into practice. Dr. Kinne’s work shows this in particular in the field of AI, which is becoming increasingly important for us.”

Overall, the jury consisting of representatives from the Volksbank Weinheim Stiftung and ZEW Mannheim emphasised that Kinne’s use of AI enables him to provide and detail up-to-date, statistically reliable information much more quickly. For example, Kinne was able to show clear, regional differences in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on companies in April, May and June 2020.

The annual award by the Volksbank Weinheim Stiftung and ZEW Mannheim aims to honour outstanding doctoral and master’s theses in economics and has already been presented for the ninth time.

The selection from the many submissions was made by a jury that included, on the part of the Volksbank Weinheim Stiftung, Carsten Müller (chairman of the board), Klaus Steckmann (member of the board) and Professor Rolf-Jürgen Ahlers (honorary professor at TU Darmstadt) and, on the part of ZEW, Professor Achim Wambach (ZEW President), Professor Thomas Kohl (ZEW Managing Director, visiting professor at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing and the Shandong University of Finance and Economics (SDUFE) in Jinan), Professor Irene Bertschek (head of the “Digital Economy” Research Department and member of the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI)), PD Dr. Friedhelm Pfeiffer (acting head of the “Labour Markets and Human Resources” Research Department) and Professor Wolfgang Franz (until February 2013 president of ZEW and chairman of the German Council of Economic Experts).