verrocchio – The Fellows

Driving innovation knowledge forward together

The verrocchio Institute awards personalities, who contribute in a unique way to the institute's work, the title "verrocchio Fellow". Unique contributions may be:

  • new innovation methods
  • new insights in innovation research, which will influence the development of innovation culture within an organization
  • decisively special competences, which complement Verrocchio's services in an ideal way.

Besides the professional achievement, another pre-requisite is commitment to the „verrocchio principles“ which are the basis for cooperating with the verrocchio Institute.

The person is authorized to hold the title verrocchio Fellow throughout the period of cooperation with the verrocchio Institute. He or she will obtain a written certificate and a seal, which might be used on his or her own media like e. g. their own website.

The following persons have been appointed as "verrocchio Fellow" so far:

Luki Huber and Gerrit Jan Veldman

The two innovative designers Luki Huber and Gerrit Jan Veldman from Barcelona have been developing excellent products for international customers from industry and economy for many years now. Incidentally, so to speak, they created the visual creative tool "Manual Thinking", which caught attention also in Germany since 2016. 

Luki Huber (1973) founded his product design studio in Barcelona in 1999 after finishing his academical career in the field of industrial design at the Higher School of Design Luzern and later on at the Escola Massana in Barcelona. Between 2001 and 2005, he worked exclusively for the creative team surrounding the famous cook Ferran Adrià and his restaurant elBulli. Besides the use in the restaurant, the products of this unique combination from design and catering were exhibited at Centre Pompidou in Paris. Until 2010, Luki Huber was teaching design at the EINA, School for Art and Design in Barcelona.

Gerrit Jan Veldman (Leicester, 1983) joined Luki Huber's studio in 2008 after his studies at the Technological University of Delft and EINA in Barcelona. Since 2009, the studio is located in the city center of Barcelona, where Huber and Veldman create a perfect atmosphere for the mutual product development with their clients.

Parallely to the product design, the two of them developed the tool "Manual Thinking", which enables teams in a unique way to develop ideas.

The contribution of them as verrocchio Fellows:
The verrocchio Institute was one of the first companies to implement the tool "Manual Thinking". Benno van Aerssen as well as Christian Buchholz, Luki Huber and Gerrit Jan Veldman attribute extremely high significance to visual tools in innovation work and they are discussing the subject regularly. In January 2017, the two teams agree on a strategical cooperation in the framework of which the verrocchio Institute acts as "Competence Partner" for Manual Thinking. This way, Manual Thinking has become a component of the Innovation Coach training.

Read more about Luki Huber and Gerrit Jan Veldman here.

Prof. Dr. Nicolas Burkhardt

Prof. Dr. Burkhardt teaches the study subjects of innovation change and leadership. He is the founder and General Manager of Kopfspringer GmbH, a strategical consulting company, which focuses on business model innovations, digitalization and transformation processes.

He is an author, industry insider of the XING platform and popular keynote speaker at different conferences and business forums. From 2008 until 2012, Prof. Burkhardt dedicated himself to the "Lebenshilfe für Afrika" (charitable support for Africa) and promoted the creation of an educational village for orphans in Moduli, Tanzania. He is a co-initiator and jury member of the Wirtschaftwoche-Quantensprung-Award (quantum leap award of the business magazine Wirtschaftswoche), of HR-garage as well as the RoundTable Innovation Management.

During the many years of his career in the industry, he was responsible for building up numerous innovation units in different, internationally operating companies. During his last employment in a DAX group, he was honored by the Ministry of Economy of North Rhine-Westphalia, together with his team as winners of the prize for digital transformation in large-sized companies.

Prof. Dr. Burkhardt completed his broad academic training in Germany, Iceland and Switzerland and finally at the renowned MBA Program of Henley Business School in the UK. He is a passionate extreme athlete and lives with his family in Düsseldorf.

Prof. Dr. Nicolas Burckhardt's contribution as verrocchio Fellow:
During a mutual innovation project in a DAX group, Burkhardt, van Aerssen and Buchholz got to know each other. They have been sharing insights as to the subject of innovation for many years. They are elaborating lectures and tools together. Finally, the "Innovation Performance Radar" arose from this cooperation. The extent of innovation ability of a team or organization can be measured with this tool.

Daniel M. Ziegler

Daniel Maurice Ziegler is a musician, team coach and speaker and has been working with Benno van Aerssen since 2014. He talks about innovation subjects from a musician's point of view and has been working successfully with non-musicians in all aspects of creativity for many years.

The composer and jazz piano player was born at Neuss in 1973 and was studying jazz and improvised music in Amsterdam/NL from 1993 until 1999. From 1999 until 2015, he was the leader of the „rhythm & groove factory, School for Jazz and Popular Music“. He was the head of several own ensembles, for which he was composing the music, as well as for other independent ensembles up to big band line-ups.

He can be heard as multi-instrumentalist on CDs as well as in live performances. He expanded the musical teaching occupation already in 2003, when he started to conduct creativity trainings for teams in companies. This lead to the format "team in sync" and later on to "Sounds Like Innovation" together with Benno van Aerssen. The two coaches implemented their mutual workshop concept for instance in a two-day workshop with a huge German automotive group.

During his solo performance with his piano on the stage, Ziegler talks about different aspects of innovation in his lecture "Composition - Improvisation - Innovation". Underpinned by music examples, which he is playing live on stage, he talks about courage, risk, curiosity, finding ideas and change management. In doing so, he bears the European corporate landscape in his mind and reveals transfers from artistic creativity to business.

Daniel M. Ziegler's contribution as verrocchio Fellow:
The creation of sound and music has a lot in common with business innovation. Daniel M. Ziegler and Benno van Aerssen developed a the format "Sounds Like Innovation", which enables also non-musicians to use the quality of music and improvisation. Sounds Like Innovation has been implemented already with several verrocchio-projects and contains the idea of verrocchio Fellowship in a particularly inspiring way.

Prof. Dr. Holger Simon

The art historian Prof. Dr. Holger Simon is an innovator and entrepreneur. He is the founder and managing director of Pausanio GmbH & Co. KG. Pausanio develops digital applications in the cultural sector, advises cultural institutions in the field of digital transformation and supports them in change processes.

Prof. Dr. Holger Simon looks back on over 20 years of experience in digital cultural management and initiated innovative projects such as the prometheus image archive in 2001 and the Digital Historical Archive Cologne in 2009.

In 2014 he was awarded the "Digital Head of Germany" by the Gesellschaft für Informatik and the BMBF.

Prof. Dr. Holger Simon researches and publishes on topics of digital transformation, innovation management in cultural institutions and cultural entrepreneurship.

Through the Pausanio Academy, which he founded in 2013, he prepares the staff of cultural institutions for the digital world and offers a certified course to become a Digital Officer & Data Scientist in Cultural Heritage.

The contribution of Prof. Dr. Holger Simon as verrocchio Fellow:
Benno van Aerssen and Holger Simon are currently conducting research to identify principles of action for managers that have repeatedly proven to be successful over the centuries.

They started their studies at the time of the Renaissance. The Renaissance epoch triggered unique developments in economic, technical, religious, social and cultural fields. It produced artist scholars such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who did not see themselves "only" as craftsmen, but created the "godlike" new worlds that their recipients had never seen before.

Global players, major banks, and mass communication are phenomena that emerged as early as the Renaissance. The modern world would be unimaginable without the innovations of the Renaissance. 

Rainer Kiefer

"Movement turns into experience - trying it out turns into skill - being active turns into fit - training turns into success." Rainer Kiefer

Rainer Kiefer holds a Master of International Studies in Sport Sciences from the University of Konstanz and is a member of the expert list for sport psychology of the Federal Institute for Sport Science.

In addition, he is a member of the Association for Sports Psychology in the Federal Republic of Germany (ASP e.V.) and Sports Psychology Consultant at the Olympic Training Center Freiburg.

His special references include the biathlon national squad, Nordic combined, wrestling national squad athletes, women's curling national team.

He is a DSV ski instructor & DSV A trainer competitive ski Nordic and has the leadership of the teaching team Nordic in the ski association Black Forest.

He is also a lecturer for cross-country skiing at the University of Constance and a lecturer for training theory and biomechanics at the isba University of Cooperative Education in Freiburg.

He draws his deep experience as an adventure pedagogue from 10 years of many hundreds of trainings with groups and teams.

The contribution of Rainer Kiefer as verrocchio Fellow:
Currently, the verrocchio Institute is developing the "Professional Athlete Training for Innovation Teams" (PATI) together with Rainer Kiefer.

After innovation expert Benno van Aerssen had completed a biathlon training with sports psychologist Rainer Kiefer and shortly afterwards Rainer Kiefer had started training as an innovation coach at the verrocchio Institute, one thing was clear to both of them - "We immediately knew why so many innovation and design thinking teams only had sporadic but no sustainable innovation successes or even performance improvements."

The PATI now combines principles, methods and exercises from competitive sports into innovation work in a target-oriented way, for a long-term increase in innovation capability.

The publication is planned for 2018 - let us surprise you or let us explain the details of PATI to you in a personal conversation.

Sven Tollmien

For 15 years Sven Tollmien has accompanied his customers into the future. Strategy and innovation workshops, inspiring lectures and individual trend sparring were daily tasks at TRENDONE in Hamburg, the market leader for trend research

Sven Tollmien helps companies to make innovations become reality by means of idea sparring, prototyping and accompanying the go-to-market. For him, the most important point or task at the beginning is to take away the uncertainty of the customers before the first step towards implementation. Sven takes up the topic with lectures and publications. In the process he accompanies the participants by sharpening the idea and transferring it into a first prototype.

The contribution of Sven Tollmien as verrocchio Fellow:
Quickly getting into the real testing of the idea is a central step to initiate the idea implementation. With the possibility to develop first prototypes overnight, Sven Tollmien is optimally integrated into the idea processes of the customers.

Both as integration into the Design Thinking process for a first visible prototype or the iterative development of the idea to innovation, Sven Tollmien brings the necessary experience and implementation power.

The objective assessment of the technical possibilities and challenges also enables the customer to choose the right way of implementation and to maintain it through continuous sparring.

Armin Schobloch

Armin Schobloch, who studied law, has (almost) always been involved with ideas and new products. Whether it was copyright law and the legal evaluation of newly created works, getting to know new people and cultures around the globe or the development of new products... "New" and "innovation" are parts of his DNA.

He participated in the international cultural program Up With People and experienced the power of interdisciplinarity and the connection of different cultures. Numerous excursions into the world of theatre have taught him how to achieve extraordinary things together as a team.

He has over 13 years of experience as a product and business developer. He knows what it takes to establish successful innovations, which obstacles and blockades are pure poison for innovations and why a culture of innovation is so important for a sustainable work on innovations.

It is particularly important to him to always keep the customer in view and, if possible, to use him to bring the product into the world.

As an ideas enabler and consultant for innovation projects, he helps companies to consider all aspects and remove the obstacles on the road to success.

The contribution of Armin Schobloch as verrocchio Fellow:
Always again promising innovation projects were slowed down or even stopped due to legal concerns and hurdles. In the joint analysis, Benno van Aerssen and Armin Schobloch realized that early consideration of legal knowledge in the idea generation phase and during the evaluation can contribute significantly to the success of an idea. The basic knowledge of the legal connections in connection with the active idea work saves time, often a lot of money and in any case a lot of nerves.

From this the BLT - Basic Legal Training was developed. Everyone who goes through this training receives the knowledge advantage to observe regulations, to initiate procedures in time and to enable the idea to be born successfully.

verrocchio Notes

Are you willing to make yourself familiar with new innovation methods? Are you wondering what the job of an Innovation Coach looks like? Are you willing to be up-to-date as to the subject of innovation?

We will send you hand-picked innovation know-how in the monthly verrocchio Notes. Free of charge and geared to practice. At first hand from Benno van Aerssen and Christian Buchholz, the founders of verrocchio Institute.

Just fill in the form, send it to us and confirm the response e-mail - that's how easy you will become a recipient.

By the way: We don't like spam mails and, certainly, neither do you. For this reason, your data will be safe with us and we will never pass them on to third parties.