You’ve probably already been to our website and seen our promotional film Early Birds. Who is it that ensures research finds its way into everyday life? Who injects real value into knowledge? People who think entrepreneurially, who act entrepreneurially. People we need, because they become innovators, they seize new ideas and make them happen, they’re prepared to stick their necks out, and they have no problems dealing with uncertainty – true entrepreneurs!
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) offers an innovation program called the ZIM, which is primarily targeted at the broad German Mittelstand (SMEs). Its aim is to foster the innovative flair and competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies. This year’s annual ZIM event again included an SME Innovation Day, which was staged on the grounds of the BMWi and was co-organized by AIF Projekt GmbH. In his opening speech, Sigmar Gabriel, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, described ZIM-backed excellence as a shining example of innovation, an attribute that is valid throughout the world. Being one of the 350 exhibitors at the annual SME Innovation Day means walking proud in markets as a pioneer with all the hallmarks of a “process innovator.” For the third year in succession, Rüdiger Jung and his team at the Mannheim-based Steinbeis Innovation Center for System Solutions in Measuring and Automation Technology were eligible to take part in the event and showcase their special exhibit: a solution developed in collaboration with research partners as part of a project backed by the BMWi.
Professor Dr. habil. Andreas Aulinger describes how the definition of entrepreneurship has changed over time and discusses the issues examined in entrepreneurship research. In an interview with TRANSFER magazine, he also explores the impact of digital technology in business on entrepreneurs.
Disruptive changes resulting from the digital revolution do not just have an impact on business processes and business models, they also change working practices. There is an opportunity for Germany to go its own way in the long term by managing these historic changes in industry. A key factor in making the transition a success will be the people, who will need the tools to actively shape digital business and working practices, plus the confidence to do so and the right skills. It’s never too early to start training in this area. One of the key issues is which specialist and personal skills we should hand on to the next generation to prepare them for “Working World 4.0.”
Professor Dr. Orestis Terzidis talked to TRANSFER about research into entrepreneurship, the nature of technology entrepreneurship, and the impact that the current trend toward digitalization will have on future entrepreneurs.
Innovation & Business Creation, the Steinbeis Transfer Institute based in Gräfelfing just west of Munich, has developed a checklist method called Seven Key Questions (SKQ), which helps assess business concepts and innovations with just a short list of controls. It also highlights whether concepts are implementable with respect to target customers, the value they add, differentiation from the competition, and financial viability.
Professor Dr. habil. Achim Walter speaks to TRANSFER magazine and explains what six blind men and an elephant have to do with the term entrepreneur. He also explores the factors that are essential for the success of an academic spin-off.
A number of factors dictate the success or failure of a business startup, as has been understood for some time now. But what role does the actual personality of the business founder play? And how can this role be defined? Are you born an entrepreneur or is it something one can learn? This and many other questions have been examined as part of research carried out by Prof. Dr. Werner G. Faix and Jens Mergenthaler at the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin.
Thomas Link founded his own startup with Philipp Pfundstein and Karl-Bang Gottlebe. It was based on the concept of a drivable transportation table called FTT and the team was supported by Ruben Maier, director of the Steinbeis Research Center for Simulation, who works for Steinbeis as a startup advisor. The project was backed by an ESF funding program which awards EXI startup vouchers. In a joint interview with Thomas Link and Ruben Maier, they talk about their experiences on the project.
Founders Markus Matt and Arne Sauer are old hands in their leisure sport, rock climbing and bouldering. On the other hand, they are completely new at the business of running indoor rock climbing facilities. Three years ago, they had the idea of opening a bouldering center in Freiburg, thereby turning their hobby into a job. But before the idea could even get off the ground, two competitors popped up, who were already in the middle of the construction phase for a similar project. Just in the nick of time, it became clear to the founders how important it is to know your market, keep an eye on the competition, and seek professional support. With the help of Steinbeis consultant Peter Becker, this ambitious endeavor would finally become a reality.
Sustainable, fair, authentic. New entrepreneurs are looking for meaning. They want to found a business that feels right. The key factor: slow growth derived from little startup capital. The Steinbeis Consulting Center Sustainability – Strategy – Innovation has developed a “sustainable business design concept” for this special kind of business founder.
Companies that want to keep pace with the constantly changing and increasing demands of the market have to constantly change and develop themselves. The directors of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence have started to question what a typical business development process should look like in order to achieve success, and why failure can happen even despite careful preparation.
When we embarked on our startup, the only thing we were actually clear about was the concept, but we didn’t realize that until afterwards – looking back. The concept was about setting up a platform for experience-based learning, which would be fundamentally different from what was on the market. It was a long and sometimes challenging road to turn this idea into a reality but we had the professional support of Steinbeis along the way. When I say “we,” that’s Sonja Johanna Döring and Alex Müller, the founders of no/academy in Stuttgart.
Entrepreneurs change the world. Forever. They are so enthusiastic about a new idea – or so frustrated with the current situation – that they introduce a novel idea to the world, and in doing so, they come up with new ways of doing things that are better than anything we’ve previously known. They create jobs, they fuel affluence, and they enhance the ability of an economy to innovate. One aspect that is central to this is technological development and the business models it engenders. Just why this is so is described by Prof. Dr. Peter Philippi- Beck of the I/B/N Steinbeis Transfer Center (Internationalisation – Equity Participation – Succession Regulation).
In an interview with TRANSFER magazine, Professor Peter Schäfer outlines why he is so passionate about entrepreneurship education and introduces the services offered by ifex.
An increasing number of firms organize business initiatives to react positively to the threat of changes in the economy and society. In the future, business models will dictate how successful agile companies are. A variety of approaches provide support with systematic development and testing, and one of these is called the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Prof. Reinhold König, director of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Technical Sales and Management, explains the model to TRANSFER.
Why do companies go to so much effort growing healthy bean sprouts in jars or plastic containers? This was the question that led Josef Teips and his startup colleagues Marina Zeisler and Alexander Lier to found a company called Cell-Garden. Their idea was to make a kind of ultramodern “fast reactor” – not like a huge atomic power station, but as part of a quiet revolution in the kitchen. They were accompanied on their journey of setting up a business by the director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Safeguarding Companies.
Bülent Gençdemir had already been working as a successful technical director in radio and TV for ten years when he took the plunge and decided to become self-employed. He set up his own company in 2016 under the name SÜDFILM, offering “film and TV production from the Breisgau city of Freiburg.” He was supported during the startup phase by Johannes Merkel, director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Business Establishment and Development.
For an entrepreneur’s ideas to work, a variety of important questions need to be answered in advance. The Steinbeis Consulting Center Business Start-up is helping entrepreneurs with their first steps into self-employment through EXI startup vouchers. One company that got off to a successful start through the program was KPI GmbH from Tuttlingen.
Know the feeling? The heating breaks down and when the handyman comes around, he whips out a piece of paper for the customer to sign to show they agree to the repairs – sometimes with terms and conditions attached that are as long as your arm. After hopefully successful repairs, he then pulls out another wad of paper detailing exactly what was done – and expects this to be signed as well. And where does all the paperwork end up? It’s still quite common for information to have to be transferred manually onto invoices before filing, sometimes with a yellow carbon copy going to accounts, a blue one going to the warehouse, and a variety of other copies going to other departments. Standard everyday procedures, it seems. But if this isn’t the heating, but repairs or maintenance for a huge industrial plant instead, things can really get complex. Some firms seem to treat their after sales function like a forgotten relative. When digital solutions come along, they’re the last ones to know. Yet the potential offered by digitalization is there for all to see. This was the motivation for a team of experts at the Göppingen-based Steinbeis Transfer Center Processes in Motion, spearheaded by its directors Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ben Marx, Prof. Dr. Christian Cseh, Prof. Dr. Rainer Elste, to work together on the development of a comprehensive digital service system. Its name: 4tfs (for technical field services).
The car of the future will have to meet a growing number of expectations from society in terms of energy efficiency, fuel consumption, environmental protection, safety, driving comfort, and sustainability. One key focus will be reducing vehicle weight by using innovative materials and introducing multi-material systems to the production process. To exploit the full potential to reduce weight, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe has developed a state-of-the-art composite material called Litecor®. A team of experts at the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Intelligent Functional Materials, Welding and Joining Techniques, Implementation has now created a process for joining the materially thermally.
Digital transformation across entire sectors of industry, the intensified convergence of key enabling technologies, and the increasing degree of networking being witnessed in markets and commerce – trends that are a central challenge to the effectiveness of any modern business. There is strong demand for more information on current trends and the skills profiles that companies and consultancies will now need to deal with. Around 300 visitors attended this year’s Steinbeis Consulting Day, which looked at the topic of Business 4.0 from a variety of angles. The event took part on June 29, 2016 at the Haus der Wirtschaft (house of commerce) in Stuttgart.
Production errors are an unwelcome feature of business. Not only do they raise costs, if nobody notices until the product arrives at the customer’s, it can have a long-term impact on client relationships. It’s all the more frustrating if the knowledge the company needed to prevent the mistake was already somewhere within the business, but nobody thought about telling production. This was the starting point for a degree project carried out by Christian Casar, who recently completed his studies toward a Master of Science in Innovation and Technology Management at the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE), part of Steinbeis University Berlin (SHB). Casar worked on the project on behalf of TRUMPF Hüttinger GmbH & Co. KG, the leading producer of process energy supply solutions and manufacturer of products such as semiconductor chips.
In Formula 1 and touring car racing, changing tires in a matter of seconds is decisive for the win. In most workshops they use pneumatic tools powered by cylinders of compressed air mounted on trollies. If the trolley topples over during use, which is conceivable considering the job it must do, there is a major risk of accidents, especially through damage to the exposed fittings. DK Edelstahldesign, a company specialized in stainless steel design based in Pfullingen, Baden-Württemberg, has been working with the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Process Development in Reutlingen and its director Prof. Karl Schekulin to develop a new type of secure transportation trolley for all kinds of compressed gas cylinders. Not only did their solution withstand the acid test of being used in Formula 1 racing, it also proved absolutely viable for everyday use in standard workshop environments. The project was supported through an innovation voucher offered by the state of Baden- Württemberg.
Around 70% of demographic change in cities and communities is the result of short-distance flows of people between cities and rural districts. It is the single largest influence on future developments. The level of migration and its nature in demographic and social terms are just some of the factors affecting population growth, so this has an influence on fundamental economic and social aspects in society – for example, it affects tax revenues, the need for hospitals, jobs, housing requirements, and thus land prices and rent. At the same time, the degree to which people are willing to move depends strongly on their age. Apprentices and students are around ten times more likely to move than old people. The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Applied System Analysis (STASA) has been analyzing these trends with a “regional opportunity monitor” called RCM.
A shining example of knowledge transfer: In 2010 Timo Marks graduated from the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin (SHB) with a Master of Science in International Management; five years later, he has just set up his own company: Schuhleister GmbH & Co. KG.
Every year, large numbers of young Germans start an apprenticeship. This is an important first career step, also for firms hoping to grow their next generation of managers. Around the same time (usually in August), the press is full of headlines about open apprenticeships with no applicants. Demographic change, lower student numbers, and shifts in perception regarding vocational training are just three factors journalists point to when this happens. While politicians, trade associations, and the trade guilds look for ways to make young people more interested in vocational training, the companies themselves have been rolling up their sleeves and have thought up their own, future-oriented training concepts. Their investments are worth it. At many companies, apprentices become committed workers that stay much longer with the company than average. The Steinbeis Transfer Institute for System Science, Management, and Consulting, which is part of Steinbeis University Berlin, has been working on a modular training scheme aimed at improving everyday vocational skills in collaboration with the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Strategic Management – Innovation – Cooperation.
If anyone has an eye for quality – literally, including for plastic piping systems – then it has to be the experts at the Steinbeis quality assurance and image processing enterprise Qualitätssicherung und Bildverarbeitung GmbH. The team from Ilmenau has developed an innovative testing process for checking plastic pipes. It’s a tube dimension testing device called PipeTest that makes it possible to run random checks on pipes and ascertain internal and external diameters, wall thickness, ovality, and random anomalies in wall thickness. The experts also have a quality testing device that works “inline” (during live production) called PipeScan, which makes it possible to run 100% checks on external diameters as well as surface defects on plastic pipes.
25 years in business and a countless number of successfully completed projects – reason enough for the Göppingen-based Steinbeis Transfer Center for Microelectronics (TZM) to celebrate in style. TZM is now one of the biggest enterprises in the Steinbeis Network. It has developed into a powerful and agile engineering services provider employing around 100 people working across a variety of sectors of industry.
In 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched a partnership project as part of a funding initiative aimed at supporting digital technology strategies within SMEs and the digital transformation of business processes. The project was named Use-PSS (usability of commercial product service systems among SMEs). The background for the project is the sea change affecting the role played by manufacturing companies. Previously, manufacturers focused primarily on the development, production, and selling of premium quality tangible goods, but in the future, customers will expect end-to-end solutions. A particularly effective way to provide such 360° solutions is to adopt a “product-service system” (PSS), with one element being the product and the other being its related services. How much emphasis is placed on each element depends largely on the area of application. The aim of the project is to provide SMEs with support in setting up such a PSS. This is being achieved by working on real application scenarios with SME partners in order to develop and then test an innovative usability template for creating a PSS. The organizations that worked as partners on the project include the Pforzheim-based Steinbeis Innovation Center 2 Digital Business, Pforzheim University, bwcon GmbH (Stuttgart) – all of which belong to the Steinbeis Network – and their partners from industry, doubleSlash Net-Business GmbH (Friedrichshafen), NETSYNO Software GmbH (Karlsruhe), and teXXmo Mobile Solution GmbH & Co. KG (Böblingen).
All the talk in Germany at the moment is of Industry 4.0 – or smart manufacturing, which describes the growing use of digital technology in production and digital connectivity between humans, machines, and objects, all made possible thanks to cyber-physical systems. The door is opening to entirely new scenarios that will affect the world overall and the world in which we work. To research the impact this will have on workers, the Karlsruhe University of Education and Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences are currently conducting a study with the support of the Steinbeis Transfer Center SITIS (Institute for Transfer Technologies and Integrated Systems) and rst IT Consulting GmbH.