#ZEWPodcast: Young, Vibrant, and Innovative


ZEW Podcast with Professor Hanna Hottenrott

Instead of covering an economic topic as usual, this episode is all about our special guest who has recently joined ZEW. We are talking about Professor Hanna Hottenrott, who took over as head of the ZEW Research Unit “Economics of Innovation and Industrial Dynamics” in April 2023. In the ZEW podcast, she explains how the International Motor Show Germany (IAA) shaped her youth, which topics she will research at ZEW in the future, and what advice she has for young students. On top of that, she also reveals which so-called green start-ups are actually green and what sets these apart from the others.


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Even from a young age, Hanna Hottenrott was passionate about technology: “I grew up in Frankfurt, where we had the IAA every year. I don’t know how many children went to the IAA, but I definitely went because it fascinated me. And it also fascinated me to see that many years ago already, the IAA had the first hydrogen-powered motor vehicle.” Her curiosity for transformative technology still continues on today and influences her research agenda. Among other things, she examines green start-ups “that offer products or services that directly contribute to protecting the environment, for example, conserving resources.” But not everything is green that pretends to be. Tetrapack packaging that looks like recycled paper doesn’t count, but “packaging that looks like a plastic bottle, for example, but is actually made from material that is self-decomposing when it is left somewhere.”

Education policy as innovation policy

Another exciting research field is “especially the area of ‘new innovation indicators to measure the driving forces and the effects of transformative innovation’. It’s such an important concern to be able to measure these things maybe even a little better than with traditional metrics like patents.” Aside from that, what appeals to Hanna Hottenrott about her work at ZEW is “quite clearly the interaction between research and the transfer of research findings beyond the scientific community. Such as in politics, for example,” from which she hopes to see more risk-taking and more endurance to deal with the challenges of the upcoming decades. Here, she banks on education policy that is “in principle innovation policy in a very long-term sense.”

Hottenrott has a few tips prepared for those who are still at the beginning of their studies. “Enjoy it, because it will rarely be this nice again. Maybe also that you shouldn’t rush through your degree in record time, but instead collect practical experience alongside it. Maybe do an internship, get a side job, or get around a little bit. You don’t necessarily need to go abroad, but you should try to experience somewhere new somehow, for example with a part-time job during the semester break.”