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Hidden Champions – an Engine for Economic Success

3rd May 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm



The German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI), EUCOR- The European Campus, and the ESMT Berlin cordially invite you to a panel on: Hidden Champions – an Engine for Economic Success

SME’s with focus on Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain Technologies

May 3, 2018

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Networking reception to follow.


Belén Villalonga

Professor, Management and Organizations

Stern School of Business New York University


Christoph Burger

Senior Lecturer

ESMT Berlin


Johannes Habel

Co-Director Hidden Champions Institute

ESMT Berlin


Markus Lemmens

Director Liaison Office

Eucor North America, New York


Dietmar Rieg

President and CEO

German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc.


moderated by


Gerrit Roessler

Program Manager

German Center for Research and Innovation New York



Cubico Soho

433 Broadway,New York, NY 10013

(Howard St. entrance)


Small and midsize companies and corporations dominate the German economic landscape and serve as backbone for a resilient and stable market. Long-term business strategies tend to motivate business decisions rather than chasing short-term shareholder value. Specialized enterprises, known only to an initiated few, dominate the world market with expertise and quality, rather than household brands with massive corporate structures. The US private sector and the academe are increasingly aware of this fundamental systemic difference. What can the two economic powerhouses on both sides of the Atlantic learn from one another? Where is the room for cooperation? What are the long term effects of this dynamic? On the US side, researchers at the Stern School of Business at NYU have been examining these questions for a long time. On the German side, the Hidden Champions Institute at the Management School ESMT Berlin is hitting the global stage of economic research and consultancy.

What better way to highlight challenges and opportunities of the Hidden Champions model, than to test is against two of the most cutting-edge technologies and their trail of start-ups, small and mid-size businesses and industries. With best use cases from the areas of Blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence the panel discussion will examine the economic, scientific and societal foundations of our transatlantic relationship.




Belén Villalonga is professor of Management and Organizations, a Yamaichi Faculty Fellow, and a Professor of Finance (by courtesy) at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Between 2001 and 2012 she was a faculty member at the Harvard Business School. Villalonga’s work focuses on family business, corporate strategy and corporate governance. She has written several articles on how family ownership and control influence firms’ governance and strategy and, ultimately, their performance. She has also extensively studied the area of corporate diversification. Villalonga’s award-winning research has been published in leading academic journals and cited over 1,800 times in scientific publications (per ISI Web of Science) and over 9,300 in research papers (per Google Scholar). Her work has also been featured on CNBC, NPR, The Economist, Bloomberg Business Week, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes and many other international business publications. Villalonga serves as an independent director at three companies that are global leaders in their industries: Grifols (hemoderivatives)—where she chairs the audit committee—, Acciona (renewable energy and infrastructure), and Talgo (high-speed trains)—where she chairs the strategy committee. Villalonga holds a Ph.D. in management and an M.A. in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. She also holds a second Ph.D. in business economics from the Complutense University of Madrid.

Christoph Burger is a senior lecturer at ESMT Berlin. Before joining ESMT, he worked five years at Otto Versand and was vice president at the Bertelsmann Buch AG,. Burger spent five years at the consulting practice Arthur D. Little, as well as five years as an independent consultant focusing on private equity financing of SMEs. Burger’s research focus is on the energy sector/ innovation/ blockchain and decision-making/negotiation. He is co-author of the dena/ESMT study on “blockchain in the energy transition”, the “ESMT Innovation Index – Electricity Supply Industry” and the book “The Decentralized Energy Revolution – Business Strategies for a New Paradigm”. Burger directs and teaches in open enrolment programs courses on decision-making, blockchain technology, innovation as a corporate model and customized programs in the energy and banking industry. He also holds programs for international senior executives such as the Yale Global Executive Leadership Program, CKGSB CEO/ EMBA program or the supervisory board program for Deutsche Telekom. He is a speaker in conferences of dena, eco-summit, energinet, IAEE, KAPSARC, OMIE, a member of the jury of the GreenTec Awards and a mentor at accelerators such as the startupbootcamp or GTEC. Burger studied business administration at the University of Saarbrücken, Germany, the Hochschule St. Gallen, Switzerland, and economics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

Johannes Habel is an associate professor at ESMT Berlin and co-director of the Hidden Champions Institute (HCI). In his research and teaching, Habel focuses on sales and marketing strategies of so-called hidden champions. He has cooperated with hidden champions in industries such as machine-building, automotive, construction, power tools, and imaging. Habel’s research has been published in some of the world’s most renowned academic management journals, such as the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and the International Journal of Research in Marketing. Furthermore, Habel has published case studies with Harvard Business Publishing and The Case Centre. Before joining ESMT Berlin, Habel worked as strategy consultant for Booz & Company and was a radio journalist for several years. He studied business administration at Mannheim University, Germany and completed his doctorate in sales management at Bochum University, Germany.

Markus Lemmens has worked in both Germany and internationally as a publisher and CEO for over 30 years. He brings additional expertise as consultant, trainer and lecturer at universities in the fields of governance and management of higher education, science, research and technology. Since 2000 Lemmens has expanded his activity as a shareholder in start-up ventures like Fusion Technology at KBHF GmbH (on campus at KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) or Edutron GmbH, Berlin, an IT company in academic knowledge management. He runs Atlantic-Innovation.org which will offer a support for university start-up companies in the summer of 2018. In December 2015 Lemmens was named Director of the North America Liaison Office, New York, for the University of Freiburg and Eucor – The European Campus, a partnership between the University of Basel, University of Freiburg, University of Upper Alsace, KIT Karlsruhe and University of Strasbourg. His academic focus is on political science and law.

Dietmar Rieg has served as President and CEO of the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) in New York since July 2013. Prior to joining the GACC New York, Mr. Rieg held various banking positions for Bayern LB starting in 1991. Since 1993, he served in multiple senior roles in Corporate Banking and Project Finance in New York. From 2006 to 2008, he re-located to the bank’s headquarters in Munich, where he was responsible for the corporate banking business in multiple industries, including energy, manufacturing, and telecommunications. He returned to New York in mid-2008 to take the position of General Manager of Bayern LB’s Branch office which he held until June 2013. Rieg is an economist with a degree from the University of Tuebingen, Germany and holds an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Gerrit K. Roessler is the Program Manager of the German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) in New York. The center facilitates transatlantic collaboration by bringing together leaders in science, the humanities, and technology. The DWIH provides a platform to foster creativity and enhance innovation in a rapidly changing world. Previously, Gerrit served as the director of the German Academic International Network (GAIN), the network for German researchers working in the United States and Canada. He has published essays on building and maintaining international networks and support structures for mobile researchers in various journals in Germany and abroad. His goal is to specifically help early-career scientists and serve them as a resource and connector. He received his Ph.D. in German literature and culture from the University of Virginia in 2013 and an Erstes Staatsexamen in music and English from the University of Dortmund, Germany in 2007.