In the future, competitiveness will depend more than ever on companies’ and workers’ willingness and ability to bring about “The New.” Cries for innovation, for revolutionary developments and radical inventions are louder than ever and it seems like there has never been such intensive transformation. And modern society has learned to expect the unexpected, accepting that the only constant is change. Aware of prevailing disparities, at this year’s Steinbeis Innovation Arena, which took place in the SpardaWelt events center in Stuttgart on April 22, 2015, Steinbeis posed a simple question: What is the Value of “the New”?
The format chosen for the event, which took place as part of the Max Syrbe Symposium, is based on the successful premiere of the 2014 Steinbeis Transfer Arena, with a strong focus on interaction. The inner circle of the discussion area was formed by representatives of science and academia, major companies, and SMEs, who were invited to take a critical look at whether innovation results in something better or simply something different. Joining in the discussion was a second circle surrounding the inner circle, contributing their own comments and discussion points. The outermost circle of the arena was made up of an invited audience, who was also allowed to take an active part in the discussion. The arena was moderated by Marcel Wagner (BR/Regio TV) and Tina Kraus (SWR).
Steinbeis is organizing the Innovation Arena in collaboration with the industrial association of the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg (LVI), with support with the content and concept coming from Beate Wittkopp (Steinbeis Transfer Center TransferWorks BW). The arena was taking place against the backdrop of the recent Steinbeis Edition publication InnovationQuality. The Value of the New.
The third Steinbeis Entrepreneur Forum, which will take place on June 19, 2015, will focus on recognizing and developing core competences at SMEs. Organized by the Steinbeis Center of Management and Technology (SCMT) at the House of Commerce (Haus der Wirtschaft) in Stuttgart, the event will be an opportunity to discuss different experiences, supported by presentations organized in tandem.
The forum is open to anyone working for an SME, especially Steinbeis clients and partners, but also students and Steinbeis University Berlin graduates. The idea is to invite people to bring their own ideas relating to current issues so that the day in Stuttgart can be used as a communication platform.
Presentations will be made in tandem to explore each topic from different angles with an examination of the principles underlying a particular topic from a Steinbeis expert, directly followed by a report on the practical aspects of the same issue from a Steinbeis project partner. This will be followed by round-table sessions with the speakers to discuss the topics in more detail. The moderator for the event will be Dr.-Ing. Walter Beck, director of SCMT.
Among the topics on the agenda are the following:
Protecting company know-how is key to successful competition. By sharing sensitive knowledge with third parties, companies often unwittingly endanger their existence. The fourth Steinbeis Symposium on Security in Business took place on May 12, 2015, in the convention center at the Schwenningen Health Insurance Company. The aim was to examine ways to effectively protect business know-how.
Even a failure of business partners to adhere to security guidelines can have a detrimental impact on everyday business. It is therefore important to identify security loopholes early and introduce the required measures. The symposium was attended by legal and business experts with national and international experience. They showed how small and medium-sized companies can effectively protect their trade secrets and patents.
The event was being organized as part of a collaboration between Infothek, the Steinbeis Transfer Center, the IHK chamber of commerce in Schwarzwald-Baar-Heuberg, the Constance Chamber of Crafts and the German Aerospace Center.
For more information go to www.siz-wt.de.
Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and Steinbeis have been working together successfully in the field of knowledge and technology transfer for many years. This is evidenced not only by the number of joint projects, but also by their strong presence on the university campus. The Steinbeis House Karlsruhe (SHKA) is now ready to provide a home for activities at the university, as well as for Steinbeis transfer enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses working in the field of technology and know-how transfer. The new premises will be opened during the Transfer Day in Karlsruhe, which will take place on June 11, 2015.
The building offers over 5,000 square meters of floor space, acting as a center of innovation not only for researchers at the university but also for SMEs. The building was commissioned by Steinbeis, who has worked on the concept in partnership with Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences alongside the local SMEs that will be tenants. The building spans five stories and also contains a cafeteria, a seminar room and a modern equipment hall.
The construction of the Steinbeis House Karlsruhe has further intensified the partnership between Steinbeis and Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. The first tenants moved in at the end of 2014. The building will be opened during a visit from Theresia Bauer, the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Science. It promises to be a highlight for the Transfer Day on June 11, which will provide insights into collaboration between Steinbeis and the university.
Startups with green business ideas frequently lack the resources to make their products a success in the market. Companies at the Green Innovation and Investment Forum (GIIF) in Stuttgart were virtually handed help on a silver platter, thanks to valuable new contacts with investors and business partners. All they had to do in return was present their idea as convincingly as possible. The forum was organized by bwcon and Umwelttechnik BW, a state agency that promotes environmental technology and resource efficiency in Baden-Württemberg. The GIIF provides support to startups with green business ideas, even while they are still getting their business off the ground.
The GIIF works with two partner organizations: KIC InnoEnergy and the EU-backed Alpine Space project FIDIAS. The GIIF’s aim is to link up startups with investors and business enterprises to make it easier to enter the market. Over the course of two days, 20 startups from the whole of Europe were given the opportunity to showcase themselves and their business concept to an audience of specialists at the Steinbeis House of Management and Technology (SHMT) in Stuttgart. Dr. Jürgen Jähnert, managing director of bwcon (a Steinbeis enterprise): “Before investors open their wallet, they want to be sure the technology actually works. So the founders have to provide a certain amount of reassurance – or at the very least be able to roll out a prototype ready for mass production.”
On the first day of the event, the startups could gain free advice on startup issues such as funding, patent protection and business planning. “For us, getting feedback from the experts was extremely useful,” says Dr. Günter Schneider, managing director of the Bietigheim company Storasol GmbH, which develops high-temperature energy storage devices. “After the coaching session, we overhauled our presentation again.” On the second day, the entrepreneurs had to present their startup project to investors and business enterprises in a pitch lasting 10 minutes. The event was also attended by leading companies such as Bosch, Mahle and EnBW. “We’re always on the lookout for technologies that Bosch can help on their way,” says Heribert Uhl, Senior Investment Director at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. Uhl’s company introduces startups to key players at Bosch subsidiaries. It also makes targeted investments in promising projects. There were also a number of investors at the event in the SHMT. “As a European investor, we’ve always got our eyes peeled for promising business concepts,” explains Dr. Christian Müller, CEO of KIC InnoEnergy Germany. “We already got to know some interesting startups while the shortlist was being drafted for GIIF.”
In a keynote speech, Prof. Eicke Weber underscored the potential that innovative ideas have to enjoy market success. “For new technologies to be competitive and make it to the market at a reasonable cost, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit have to go hand in hand,” said Weber, who is director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE). “Photovoltaic technology has developed along these lines in recent years and other technologies will follow in the years to come. This opens the door to exciting new possibilities for future investors.”
When it came to market-readiness, there were major differences between the developments presented at the GIIF. The projects also covered a wide spectrum of areas. But one thing they all demonstrated to the same degree is that green business ideas are not just good for the environment, they also make sense from a financial standpoint. Many of the technologies that were presented save valuable resources and thus make companies more competitive.
This first Green Innovation and Investment Forum achieved its objective of bringing together investors and business partners without the hindrance of red tape. “We’ve forged a number of valuable contacts through the bwcon and Umwelttechnik BW network and hopefully they’ll help us succeed with our market introduction,” says Nadine Antic, CEO of Global- Flow. Her startup, which produces premium quality vermicompost in large volumes out of organic waste, went to the GIIF to find investors for its project. Two companies were honored with an award for the “Best Business Idea,” which was also bestowed at the GIIF. The award comes with prize money worth €1,000 for each winner.
Be they cars, smartphones or clothing, an increasing number of products are now customized – one of the actual reasons for Industry 4.0, just so products can be made profitably in batch sizes of one. Additive production processes (3D printing) play an important role in this respect – one reason for the 3rd Steinbeis Engineering Day, which took place on April 15, 2015, in the Stuttgart House of Commerce (Haus der Wirtschaft). The day examined the impact additive manufacturing may have on business processes, IT systems and even business models.
Thanks to additive manufacturing, it is now possible to make small batches of products to high standards and still keep technical know-how inside the company. It also accelerates product development for individual customers, taking customer feedback into account throughout the entire product life cycle. Steinbeis has been examining the impact of additive manufacturing as part of a study conducted with the University of Stuttgart and Aachen University of Applied Sciences. The study aimed to answer the following questions:
Experts from trade and industry took a stance on these questions as part of the Steinbeis Engineering Day and attempted to look at the topic of additive manufacturing from a new angle.
The editors of TRANSFER would like to thank everyone for the response to our reader survey, which far exceeded our expectations. We received around 800 responses and are currently sifting through the results. We will be able to say more about the findings in the next edition of TRANSFER.
For now, we can already announce the winners of the survey. Claudia Pülicher, a graduate at Steinbeis University had lady luck on her side and the Berliner can look forward to her new digital companion – an iPad Air2. The article that received the most votes (by a long shot) was the interview with Professor Dr.-Ing. Jörg W. Fischer, project manager at the Karlsruhe-based Steinbeis Transfer Center for Computer Applications in Engineering. The interview entitled “The Innovation Process Needs Flexibility and Freedom!” appeared in Edition 4/2014 as part of a feature on information and communication technology and is still accessible online by going to www.steinbeis-transfermagazin.de.