Despite numerous important methodological advancements in all areas of chemistry, still most organic synthesis as well as the industrial production of chemicals can be improved. Currently, more than 80% of all products of the chemical industry are made via catalysis. In this regard, the development of new and more efficient catalysts constitutes a key factor for achieving a sustainable production of all kinds of chemicals today and in the future. Here, several major challenges will be presented in the talk; e.g. the selective reduction and oxidation of multi-functionalized substrates in the presence of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts. In this context, it will be shown that recently developed molecular-defined as well as nano-structured cobalt and iron catalysts enable us to perform catalytic hydrogenation processes with high yields and unprecedented selectivity. Specific examples which demonstrate the potential of catalytic processes with bio-relevant metal complexes as well as graphene-modified nanocatalysts will include hydrogenations and dehydrogenations as well as applications in the energy sector. In the future, also for industrial processes improved economics based on the presented novel catalysts might be expected.