The Steinbeis entrepreneur Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Mücklich has been honored with this year’s Henry Clifton Sorby Award, an international recognition for outstanding lifetime achievements. The award is bestowed every year by the International Metallographic Society (IMS) to recognize scientists for many years of dedication to metallurgy and metallography research and teaching. It is also a reflection of their international recognition and acknowledgment.
Frank Mücklich holds the chair for functional materials at the University of Saarland and is director of the Materials Engineering Center Saarland (MECS), which is a Steinbeis Research Center. His works involves highperformance functional materials and the development of new functional materials with an emphasis on extreme electrical loads, contacting materials used in electric switch systems, and customized nano-composites. His areas of expertise also include the technical functionalization of surfaces based on micro and nanostructuring, especially with material surfaces and thin layers. This is achieved through laser structuring, laser interference metallurgy, and ion beam technology. Mucklich has developed new methods for analyzing and simulating complex material structures in 2D and 3D for conducting quantitative image analysis and atom probe tomography.
[Translate to English:] Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Mücklich
Steinbeis Research Center Material Engineering Center Saarland (MECS) (Saarbrücken)
In mediaeval times, there were legends of a philosopher’s stone, which it was believed would allow people to turn base metals into gold or silver. The philosopher’s stone was even considered an elixir of life. This idea is being used as an analogy by the Steinbeis experts at Infothek in Villingen-Schwenningen: One never knows for sure whether an idea can be turned to gold or silver, or whether any use will come of it – it’s not always obvious in advance. The Steinbeis team has witnessed this with many products, and this even applies to the inventors and business startups they have consulted, supported, and supervised over the years. Then, in April, the team had three reasons to celebrate, all in the same month.
Despite the inclement weather, a large number of partners and clients of Steinbeis Infothek came to celebrate the opening of the new Steinbeis House, its innovative gardens, and a presentation of the innovation museum. What is special about the museum is that all of the exhibits are the result of projects the consultants have worked on over the past 30 years or so. They are now an integral part of the building’s interior decoration and can be found in the cafeteria area, the stairwell, and the offices. Each is labeled with a QR code to provide more details of the ingenious idea behind the product. The Steinbeis team is now housed in a striking new location on the edge of the old town of Villingen, having moved there from the former offices in 63 Gerberstrasse. Now visitors and clients are welcomed by a building sporting the name Steinbeis House. “We at Steinbeis are proud to work with all kinds of people on their innovations, from part-time inventors to global players. We support the process in a number of ways because the goal of any idea is to become a long-term success in the market. To make this possible, we advise them on everything from registering patents to market analysis and product launches. We sometimes take a critical angle because our stated aim is to minimize the risk for our customers,” said the host for the day, Wolfgang Müller, outlining his team’s main purpose.
Exhibits at the Innovation Museum can be viewed during the opening hours of the cafeteria
on the ground floor of the Steinbeis House.
Security first, risk last – this was the central thought behind the fifth symposium on security in business held in Villingen-Schwenningen in June. The event was organized by the Steinbeis Innovation Center Know-How+Transfer.
The event was particularly important for local companies: “Lots of firms in the Black Forest and Baar region are among the leaders in their industry, so unauthorized parties are often interested in illegally getting their hands on sensitive information,” explains Wolfgang Müller, who heads up the Steinbeis team in Villingen. Muller believes that many people in industry are completely unaware of the risks companies are exposed to when their business processes convert to digital technology, and given the increasingly global nature of business relationships, things are more complex than they have ever been. To combat this knowledge gap, Steinbeis invited highly qualified experts to the event.
In a speech by Dr. Julia Victoria Pörschke (Baden-Württemberg State Office for Data Protection), she asked the question: “Business, Transparency, and Europe – What Changes are SMEs about to Witness?” Pörschke talked about the challenges posed by international data protection law, focusing on the data protection legislation that came into force at the EU level in May. This will lead to a binding harmonization of regulations and what it will mean for SMEs is that their processes will need to be adjusted to these new regulations. Pörschke explained that it is highly likely that this will fuel a rise in expenditures and administration costs, despite the fact that there is no guarantee that those affected by the harmonization will be able to enjoy any degree of legal certainty. The only thing that is certain is that anyone breaching the new laws can expect to face hefty fines.
Threats of a different nature were looked at in a talk on “Attacks from the Internet – Types of Culprits and their Approaches” given by Prof. Dr. Dirk Koschützki (Steinbeis Transfer Center for Cyber and Information Security). Koschützki described the methods and intentions of different groups of perpetrators. This also made it clear that innocuous employees and a careless attitude at work can also result in major damage. Koschützki did nothing to conceal the truth about the often significant cost of minimizing risk.
The issue of risk was also covered by Elliot Papageorgiou (Rouse & Co. International LLP, China) in a speech entitled “Made in China and the 13th Five-Year Plan – The Importance of Chinese Strategies for German SMEs.” European companies face major challenges due to unprecedented developments in China. The chances of international companies succeeding in China are under major threat after implementation of intellectual property measures and competitive advantages given to “domestic champions” as a result of local protectionism. Papageorgiou advises companies looking to do business in China on a regular basis to identify potential security gaps beforehand, along with solutions for dealing with these gaps, which it is imperative to implement. Firms have no choice but to regularly monitor patents, the competition, and technology in order to establish a robust base of information.
Marina Rossi, from the Steinbeis project partner Jülich, provided information on state funding programs for innovative enterprises. In a speech entitled “WIPANO – Knowledge and Technology Transfer through Patents and Standard,” Rossi outlined the principles of the funding program, which can provide financing worth up to €16,575 depending on the anticipated success of an innovation. To qualify, people applying for funding must not have registered any property rights in the last five years and they must apply for the project in advance. Rossi underscored the fact that state programs make a significant contribution to the security of private enterprises with a positive influence on how intellectual property is managed.
“As in all areas of business and society, it’s about improvement, progress, and vision,” concludes Wolfgang Müller, who predicts a rocky ride for companies that are not sufficiently informed about security issues. His view is that the consequences of security breaches can be cataclysmic, with “the threat of competitive setbacks, and these can have a negative impact on the market shares of companies. In the worst case scenario, it will even eventually threaten their very existence.” The audience and speakers used the opportunity after the speeches to network, discuss further topics, and explore other issues relating to security in business.