DIHP Pitch 2023: Leibniz-HKI Team wins research budget

Five teams awarded at the Ideas Pitch 2023 at the "Digital Innovation Hub Photonics" (DIHP)

| Based on a press release of DIHP

Several white men stand on a green carpet holding up certificates
The award winners of the DIHP Pitches 2023 (from left to right): Dr. Sebastian Händschke (Head of DIHP), Tobias Gebhardt and Marcel Walz, Dr. Günter Weber, Dr. Tino Schenk, Dr. Robin Bürger (Head of "Crowd Innovation"), Dr. Jan Sperrhaake, Philipp Landwehr and Albert Dehne, Dr. Johann Kufs (Leibniz-HKI). Source: DIHP

To support start-ups and fresh ideas in the field of optics and photonics: That is the goal of the "Digital Innovation Hub Photonics" (DIHP). On January 12, for the fifth time, the Hub invited photonics fans and (prospective) founders to present their innovative research and business projects in an "Elevator Pitch". Awards were given for research ideas that aim to stem the death of bees, for example, but also for projects in bioanalytics or medical technology.

The winning teams will receive research budgets of approximately € 55,000 each. This provides a full-time position for a PhD student or postdoc for six months. In total, a budget of over € 275,000 was thus awarded at Pitch 2023. In this way, researchers can now further develop their award-winning ideas in the five research institutes that belong to the "Digital Innovation Hub Photonics".

The Leibniz-HKI team of Christin Reimer, Johann Kufs and Falk Hillmann — now a professor at Wismar University of Applied Sciences — won with their project ProDICAN. They are working on producing cannabinoids in cultures of slime molds under controlled conditions. ProDICAN is dedicated to observing and controlling this process using optical methods.

DIHP Pitches: Space for exchange and networking

The award-winning teams were selected by a jury of experts. It was made up of representatives from various institutions from business and science - including companies such as JENOPTIK, associations, transfer experts from the participating institutions - but also, in particular, experienced founders such as Peggy Bärenklau (heracle GmbH) and Dr. Peter Miethe (Posanova GmbH). Dr. Claudia Reinlein, who herself presented her ideas for the first time at the DIHP pitch in 2020 and later founded ROBUST AO GmbH, was also a member of the jury. She says of this year's pitch, "It's especially exciting for me to now sit on the jury myself after three years and hear so many interesting topics."

On the idea of DIHP Pitches, Dr. Sebastian Händschke, DIHP project manager, explains, "With the pitches, we make it easier for internal and external idea teams to work together with university and non-university institutions. Participants benefit from the feedback, and the jury is pleased to see many interesting projects. The exchange is helpful for all sides - pitchers (applicants), institutes and other partners. It is particularly pleasing that several SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) also applied this year."

About the Digital Innovation Hub Photonics (DIHP)

The Digital Innovation Hub Photonics (DIHP) is a consortium project, funded by the Ministry of Economy, Science and Digital Society (TMWWDG) of the Free State of Thuringia. Launched as a pilot project by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (Fraunhofer IOF) in 2019, the DIHP was joined by other partners at the beginning of 2022: the Abbe Center of Photonics (ACP) at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI), the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technologies (Leibniz-IPHT) and the Helmholtz Institute Jena (HI-Jena).

The DIHP aims to promote the transfer of technology from science to industry, in particular through start-ups and cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It works closely with other partners in Jena and Thuringia, such as the start-up and transfer services of Ernst Abbe University and the University of Jena, as well as the Thuringia Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research (STIFT) and the Thuringia Center for Start-ups and Entrepreneurship (ThEx). In the current phase, the TMWWDG is providing funding of around € 1.2 million for the DIHP project until the end of 2023.


Falk Hillmann
Johann Kufs
Christin Reimer