You shape the change

How men and women make the future tangible with ideas, commitment and the courage to find unusual solutions.

Reading time: 5 Minutes

Who has the bright idea? In Lusatia, many creative minds are ensuring that structural change can succeed. Photo: Adobestock

How men and women make the future tangible with ideas, commitment and the courage to find unusual solutions.

The optimistic

Torsten Ruban- Zeh, Mayor of HoyerswerdaHe wants to talk about what succeeds, not about what is lacking, such as skilled workers. "I want to give people a reason to come to Hoyerswerda and not scare them off," he says. Ruban-Zeh has built up an entire department with six employees in the city hall for project development. The Saxon Agency for Structural Change praises the positive external communication as exemplary.
The most important project for him is the research campus with the TU Dresden for autonomous driving, flying and autonomous agriculture. Investments are planned for 90 million, and the development plan has been approved by the city council.

Torsten Ruban-Zeh. Photo: Gernot Menzel

The networker

Katharina Hentjes-Kunst is the woman who will put the German Center for Astrophysics on track administratively in Lusatia. She has the money to rent laboratories and premises, hire staff and purchase the equipment for the planned drillings in the Lusatian granite. She keeps in touch with the mayors and district councils in the region. It is striking how well she is networked after such a short time. Hentjes-Kunst keeps the DZA bosses Hasinger and Stegmann on their toes. In mid-March, she and her team moved into office space in the town hall in Hoyerswerda, from where they are preparing to set up the large-scale research center for the time being.

Katharina Hentjes art. Photo: PR

The bioeconomy pioneer

Romann Glowacki, 45, a native of eastern Westphalia with a degree in wood science, brings young companies for new products and processes in the bioeconomy to the coalfield: The enterprising manager was innovation coordinator at the German Biomass Research Center in Leipzig, today he is managing director and owner of the agency "PiC Innovation Culture" for innovation management and product development. He advises the BioZ, an alliance for biobased innovations from Zeitz and Central Germany. It drives new value chains with biobased raw materials and new alliances, sets up research projects, acquires funding and prepares industrial productions. More than 70 partners belong to the project.

Romann Glowacki. Photo: PR

The economic development

How can straw be used to save plastics in the automotive industry? That's what a consortium of 100 companies from Lusatia will be investigating over the next three years. Under the leadership of plastics professor Sebastian Scholz from the Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences. Also present are the VW-Group and Siemens Mobility in Vienna. The impetus for this project came, among others, from Heike Schleussner from the business development company Eno in Görlitz. She had become aware of the RUBIN federal program, which promotes regional entrepreneurial alliances for innovation. For the 32-year-old, this is her first major success. The award from Berlin came a few days after she started at Eno.

Heike Schleussner. Photo: PR

The voice of Lusatia

Christine Herntier, since 2014 non-partisan mayor of Spremberg, was the voice of the cities and communities in the Lusatian coalfield in the Coal Commission. She is regarded as determined, combative and assertive, but is less "poltrig" than some of her colleagues. She is a co-initiator, co-founder and one of two spokespersons for the Lausitzrunde, an association of 23 counties, cities and municipalities. Herntier does not oppose change; she has accepted structural change. However, she is against a coal phase-out before 2038, and there are those who say that she has played a decisive role in ensuring that there is a lot of money to mitigate the coal phase-out.

Christine Herntier. Photo: Thomas Kretschel/kairospress

The Innovative

At the Saxon State Exhibition in Zwickau in 2020, Christoph Scholze was one of the 20 Future Makers of Saxony. At the time, the 40-year-old mechanical engineer had just helped to preserve the Siemens plant in Görlitz with its 750 employees. As vice chairman of the works council, he drafted the strategy of a Innovation Campus at the Siemens site. In the meantime, Fraunhofer is setting up a hydrogen laboratory here and Deloitte has settled down. The now 43-year-old is one of the most sought-after idea generators and networkers in the district of Görlitz. He is responsible for Energy Saxony on the road and soon also for the start-up funding program of the Leipzig School of Management active.

Christoph Scholze. Photo: Martin Schneider

The intransigent

Torsten Pötzsch, Lord Mayor of White Wateris the other spokesman for the Lausitzrunde. He ticks rather left, in any case cosmopolitan, conditionally green, because he knows about the importance of coal for Weißwasser. But it is important to him to leave the world "fit for grandchildren. He is a doer, and does a lot of things himself. Pötzsch is a voting member of the Regional Monitoring Committee for the Lusatian Coalfield, which helps distribute the coal millions. In the meantime, he had already threatened to resign because he sharply criticized the allocation of the funds. He insists that the core coal regions in particular should be supported in their structural transformation.

Torsten Pötzsch. Photo: Wolfgang Wittchen

The scientist

For the rector of the Dresden University of Technology (TU)Prof. Ursula Staudinger, shaping structural change is a strategically important issue. This is because scientific excellence and the associated innovative strength can be achieved through research centers like the German Center for Astrophysics or the Smart Mobility Lab in Hoyerswerda in the region. At the same time, she sees the university as having a responsibility to actively accompany the transformation process in Lusatia as a social and scientific player. She is also a frequent guest at meetings of the Innovation Advisory Board, which Minister President Michael Kretschmer established to accompany structural change.

Ursula M. Staudinger. Photo: M. Rietschel

The epicure

Christine Klauder, 50, a Thuringian and trained porcelain designer, brings culinary and cultural enjoyment to the coalfield: The publisher of the Central German Enjoyment Guide heads the "Unternehmen Revier" (Business in the coalfield) project, which is funded by the federal program. Association Heimatgenuss Central Germany. The team networks local and cross-border producers, restaurateurs, chefs, manufacturers, food artisans, vintners and traders and organizes local food festivals, picnic safaris, culinary walks and other regional events. Klauder wants to whet the appetite of locals and tourists to discover and enjoy the old brown coal areas in a new and different way.

Christine Klauder. Photo: private

The advertiser

Three letters stand in Bischofswerda for the future: LUA, usually spoken in one word. This is faster than National Institute of Health and Veterinary Inspection. The authority is still at home in Dresden, but from 2025, work will begin on new laboratories and offices on the outskirts of Bischofswerda. Cost: 165 million euros. This is associated with a name: Holm Große (57). The non-partisan mayor is convinced that the LUA will bring jobs, especially for women, as well as purchasing power and an influx of people to the city. That's why he's fighting for the project - and against prejudices among the 300 LUA employees, not all of whom are enthusiastic. During city tours especially for them, the mayor advertises daycare centers, schools and building sites for homes.

Holm Große. Photo: Uwe Soeder

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